19 November 2019
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s latest incitement against Palestinian citizens of Israel and Members of Knesset is an affront to democratic norms. His warnings on Saturday night, that, "We are facing an emergency that is unprecedented in the history of the State of Israel," are racist: plain and simple. But we also know they are part of a deliberate campaign to delegitimize Arab political participation and the possibility of Jewish-Arab partnership.
The Prime Minister knows that the greatest threat to his rule is Jewish-Arab political partnership. That is why he warns about Arab citizens “voting in droves” – why he fabricates widespread voter fraud, why he sends party operatives to intimidate voters using cameras in Arab polling places, and why he defames Arab citizens and Members of Knesset as an “existential threat.”
That’s why Israelis are speaking out and standing up against Netanyahu’s racism and incitement.
Today, in light of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s latest comments in which he defamed Arab citizens and Knesset Members as an “existential threat,” a group of 18 civil society organisations in Israel sent a letter to President Reuven Rivlin denouncing the Prime Minister’s incitement to racism. The letter is below:
TO: The President of Israel, Mr. Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin
SUBJECT: The Prime Minister’s intolerable incitement towards Arab citizens and their representatives in the Knesset.
Honorable President Rivlin,
We, civil society organizations and activists for equality and shared society between Jews and Arabs, appeal to you following Prime Minister Netanyahu’s inciting comments at a Likud Party conference (Sunday, November 17) at the Tel Aviv Exhibition Gardens. On prime-time television, Netanyahu made false claims about Knesset members from the [Arab] Joint List. He claimed that they seek to destroy the state and that any government that they support would constitute “an existential threat to the State of Israel.”
These words constitute serious and dangerous racist incitement. The Prime Minister has embarked on a dangerous campaign of incitement for political purposes, knowingly endangering the lives of representatives of the Arab public and attempting to delegitimize twenty percent of the country’s citizens, all while shirking his duty as prime minister for all.
We now turn to you, as the President of a state for all its citizens who recognizes the importance of the full and equal status of Arab citizens in the State of Israel, with a request that you denounce these inciting remarks from Prime Minister Netanyahu and send a signal that the path of incitement and vilification is illegitimate. This is a defining moment for Israeli society as a whole. We refuse to be silent in the face of this incitement. To do so would be akin to perpetuating it. We therefore urge you to strongly and publicly oppose this intolerable incitement.
Abraham Fund Initiatives
AJEEC – Negev Institute
Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI)
Bimkom – Planners for Planning Rights
Council of Unrecognized Villages in the Negev
Hand in Hand Schools
IDEA – the Center for Liberal Democracy
Negev Coexistence Forum for Equal Citizenship
Neve Shalom – Wahat al Salam
New Israel Fund (NIF) – Shatil
Rabbis for Human Rights
Tag Meir – Light Tag Coalition
Zazim – Community Action