Former Knesset Speaker Avraham Burg spoke at the Jerusalem rally. In his speech he criticized the rabbis. "Don't say these are weeds in the garden, they are rabbis who are not weeds, they are malicious, and they are the gardeners themselves. They study the Torah and their word is followed with zeal.
"You who have put your name on this letter, and all your supporters, you the leaders of nationalist, fundamentalist religious movements, you cannot claim that you would remain silent if the same were done to our Jewish brethren. This is not a religious issue, this is an issue of humanity; no man should be allowed to speak in this way."
Burg addressed Benjamin Netanyahu's response to the letter and said: "Mr. prime minister, don't talk, do – fire them and their students and those that follow their teachings. They are public officials, they represent us."
Avner Inbar from the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement, who initiated the protest, said, "The people who should have been here are Likud members, Kadima members, and all those who consider themselves sane liberals. There are plenty of people throughout the country who feel that a dangerous and foul wind is gaining speed and starting to endanger the foundations of the Israeli regime and our capabilities to live here, Jews and Arabs together.
"Today people dare to express opinions that just a few years ago would have been condemned as defamation. I expect the establishment and its liberal foundations - like Dan Meridor and Benny Begin - to be the first to demand the dismissal of the 50 rabbis who declared a war on democracy in Israel."
An additional protest is being held in the city of Carmiel. The organization behind the protest is 'Brit Chosech Le'garesh,' an anti racism group which brings together 15 Israeli secular organizations.
Alon Kaplan, one of the protest's organizers told Ynet: "We are a group of 30 activists and tonight we have come together, dozens of citizens, to light the Hanukkah candles and mark the expulsion of racism from the city of Carmiel."
Hagai Einav contributed to this report
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