The umbrella body representing Australian Jewry has sent a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin expressing “profound concern” over what it described as “blanket condemnations” by Israeli government leaders of Jewish settlers.
“While we readily acknowledge that there are some extremists amongst the settlers and their supporters who seek to subvert Israel’s democracy, and that some of them have used tactics and made statements against you and the government which deserve the strongest denunciation, we ask you to rise above provocations,” said the letter from the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.
The letter, signed by council President Isi Leibler, also said, “Unfairly writing off all the settlers as extremists and fanatics could easily become a self-fulfilling prophecy, creating only further polarization and forcing the moderates amongst the settlers to the brink of despair.”
Leibler, who also serves as co-chairman of the governing board of the World Jewish Congress, added, “These blanket condemnations go beyond the understandable and commendably vigorous urgency of the democratic debate in Israel.”
The letter was sent after a meeting last week of the council at which concern was expressed about the tone of the political debate in Israel.
During the summer, Israeli security forces repeatedly clashed with demonstrating Jewish settlers, and the rhetoric from Israeli leaders of all political stripes heated up over the issue of expanding Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank.
The letter from the Executive Council of Australian Jewry was noteworthy in light of the fact that the Australian Jewish community is recognized as particularly Zionist and supportive of the principle that Diaspora communities should refrain from public criticism of Israeli governments on security or foreign policy issues.
Leibler, who has residences in Melbourne, Australia, and in Jerusalem, and who has two sons living in Israel, is also an active supporter of Rabin’s.
Leibler expressed this support in the letter and asked the prime minister to “consider it as a constructive plea from heavy hearts who seek only peace for Israel.”