|Written by Keith Hall|
17 January 2013
Fighting Racism During Elections
In a divisive and heated election season, a large number of NIF grantees have joined an important initiative asking Knesset candidates to refrain from incitement to racism, discrimination, violence, and hatred as the election campaign moves into its final days. The "Call for All Israel to Prevent Racism, Discrimination, Hate Crimes, Finding Scapegoats, and Political Violence" in the election campaign was started by a group of leading academics and is being supported by a long list of organizations and individuals, including eminent professors and Nobel Prize laureates.
The initiative comes in the midst of an uproar over a Shas campaign commercial, withdrawn for anti-Russian content, which reflects the incitement in the current campaign. The commercial showed a marriage between a Mizrachi Jew and new Russian-speaking convert. The ad was criticized for denigrating Russian-Israelis as not being Jewish enough.
Another commercial, sponsored by the extremist Otzma L'Israel party, made fun of Israeli Arabs and revived the idea of citizenship conditional on loyalty oaths. A commercial sponsored by the left-wing Meretz party, using a photo of the little girl spat on by an ultra-Orthodox man last year in Beit Shemesh, removed the photo after the girl's mother complained.
Dr. Gadi Gvaryahu, Chair of the NIF supported Tag Meir coalition and a signatory to the initiative, said, "We expect more than 160 candidates for the Knesset to sign the Call - Jews and Arabs, right and left, Secular and Orthodox. The political challenge in our divided society is to maintain a robust dialogue while tolerating views we may dislike. We have had one prime minister assassinated and we cannot afford more such political violence." The full statement can be read (in Hebrew) here.