By Rabbi Ron Kronish
“Earlier this week, I was invited to attend a meeting of the Committee on Education of the Knesset (parliament) by leaders of a coalition which I am part of
called Tag Meir, Hebrew for “Light Tag,” or perhaps better translated as “A Sign of Light.” The group combats hate crimes that have become endemic in certain quarters in Israel during the last year and a half. We began at Hanukkah to react to each violent act of Jewish ultra-nationalists who desecrate churches and mosques and attack innocent peace activists, who go under the name Tag Mechir, Hebrew for “Price Tag.” Our idea was to light a beacon of peace and reconciliation to show the sane face of the moderate mainstream of Judaism in Israel.
The meeting at our Knesset was chaired by M.K. Amram Mitznah, of the new political party, Hatenuah(the Movement), led by Minister of Justice Tzipi Livni. Tag Meir initiated this discussion within the framework of a meeting of the Committee on Education in order to place this issue firmly on the public agenda. This coincided with the publication of a report by Tag Meir about hate crimes in Israel and the Occupied Territories over the past 18 months. Mitznah opened the meeting by stressing that this issue is a crucial one within Israeli society, one that can no longer be ignored, and it needs to be addressed by the educational systems in Israel, both formal and informal.
Gadi Gvaryahu, who serves as chairperson of Tag Meir, summarized the report, which delineated more than 100 attacks by extremist Jewish groups against Christian and Muslim Arabs, against Jews and against foreign refugees residing in Israel. He reminded everyone in the room that the Torah tells us no less than 36 times that we need to be kind to the stranger. In addition, he told the committee that not one single perpetrator has been brought to justice yet (and that if it had been Palestinians doing this, they would have been brought to justice a long time ago).”
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