Reform, Conservative streams condemn Netanyahu’s warning on Arab ‘droves’

Ron Kampeas

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The two largest American Jewish religious streams criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for an election day appeal in which he warned that Arabs were voting in “droves.”

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indicated that Israel was endangered by Israeli Arabs exercising their right to vote,” the Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly said in a statement Thursday. “This statement, which indefensibly singled out the Arab citizens of Israel, is unacceptable and undermines the principles upon which the State of Israel was founded.”

Netanyahu in a video posted on Facebook urged Likud voters to cast ballots saying “droves” of Arab voters were being bused to the polls in a campaign he said was funded from abroad.

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Rabbi Rick Jacobs, the president of the Union for Reform Judaism, in his criticism also noted Netanyahu’s election eve renunciation of a two-state solution; post-election, Netanyahu has walked back those comments, saying a two-state solution is still his goal.

“The final hours of the campaign Jewish groups look to calm post-election U.S.-Israel tensions — including the prime minister’s renunciation of his commitment to a two-state solution as well as his naked appeal to his hard-right bases’ fears rather than their hopes — were disheartening,” Jacobs said. “Israel deserves better, especially from a prime minister who holds himself out as the leader of the entire Jewish people.”