WASHINGTON (UNA-OIC) – More than 330 rabbis in the US have signed an open letter to ban far-right members of the incoming Israeli government, led by Benjamin Netanyahu, from speaking to their synagogues and communities.
The letter states that the rabbis will boycott members from the Religious Zionist bloc of the incoming government, which includes far-right MKs Itamar Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich.
“We will speak out against their participation in other fora across our communities,” says the letter.
“We will encourage the boards of our congregations and organizations to join us in this protest as a demonstration of our commitment to our Jewish and democratic values.”
The letter was signed by a range of Jewish religious leaders from Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist movements, including some who lead major communities in Washington, Los Angeles, and Chicago. However, it does not include any signatories from the Orthodox movement.
It was organized by David Teutsch, a leading Reconstructionist rabbi in Philadelphia, and John Rosove, the rabbi emeritus of Temple Israel in Los Angeles.
According to Israeli news reports, the letter’s uncompromising tone and the breadth of the signatories is a signal of a burgeoning crisis in relations between Israel and the US Jewish community triggered by the elevation of the far-right parties.
Netanyahu’s bloc won the October elections thanks to an alliance with far-right religious Zionist parties.
The parties’ leaders have secured positions in a future government that may help them push through policies such as annexing large swaths of the occupied West Bank, expanding illegal settlements, and allowing Jewish prayer at al-Aqsa Mosque.
After the Israeli aggression on Gaza in May 2021, 25 percent of American Jewish voters said Israel was an apartheid state, in a poll conducted by the Jewish Electorate Institute. Another 38 percent of voters said Israel’s treatment of Palestinians was similar to general racism in the US.