US Reform rabbis issued a statement Sunday condemning the loyalty oath bill, an amendment to Israel's Citizenship Law that requires all new non-Jewish immigrants to pledge allegiance to a Jewish democratic state.
The Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), which authored the statement, warned that forcing Arab citizens to take a loyalty oath will strengthen Israel's enemies and harm the State's security.
CCAR claimed that the oath, proposed by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman of Yisrael Beiteinu and supported by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, creates "one law for Jews and another law for non-Jews." The amendment was approved in the Knesset on October 10.
"It would turn Israel into the very kind of country which historically Jews themselves have rightly cursed for their unequal treatment of non-Christians and non-Muslims," CCAR stated.
According to CCAR, which represents nearly 2,000 Reform rabbis, the loyalty oath denies non-Jewish citizens the political rights and the freedom of conscience guaranteed by Israel's Declaration of Independence. The organization quoted the declaration promising full and equal citizenship to Arab Israelis, and asserted that the loyalty oath goes against this provision.
"Our deep conviction that Israel is and must remain both Jewish and democratic is precisely what compels us to oppose this oxymoronic law," CCAR stated. "For in requiring non-Jewish citizens to pledge loyalty to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, this legislation greatly diminishes Israel's Jewish character and compromises its democratic commitment."
The organization was especially outraged that the loyalty oath might send a message that co-existence between Jews, Muslims and Christians in a Jewish state is impossible.
"More than symbolic loyalty statements, Israel needs its non-Jewish citizens as partners in peace, equally invested in the future of the state," CCAR said.
Moreover, the Reform leaders wrote that the loyalty oath defies the Torah, which commands the Jewish people not to oppress others living amongst it.
"If this legislation comes to the floor of the Knesset," the statement concluded, "we implore all those who themselves would be loyal to Israel's democratic and Jewish character to oppose and vote down once and for all this un-Jewish and un-democratic legislation."
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