November 28 -- New York -- AJC is appalled at the verbal and written abuse displayed in recent days toward Rabbi Chaim Amsalem, a Member of Knesset who has fallen out of favor with his Shas party.
Rabbi Amsalem has expressed innovative, courageous and farsighted positions on matters that affect the entire Jewish people, such as conversion to Judaism and the high rate of non-participation of ulta-Orthodox men in the Israeli workforce. As a result, he has been expelled from his party, but retains his Knesset seat, insisting on a direct mandate from
"You may agree or disagree with what the rabbi has to say, and we happen to find some of his views a welcome breath of fresh air," said AJC Executive Director David Harris. “But nothing can justify the Shas newsletter using the term 'Amalek' to describe him. This is language that could incite hotheads to violence since, as the newsletter noted, Jews are commanded in the Torah to erase the memory of Amalek.”
“We would have thought that recent Jewish history alone would be a sobering reminder about the potential dangers of such incendiary language,” said Harris. “We call on Jewish leaders from across the religious and political spectrum, including, yes, from the leadership of Shas,to denounce clearly this incitement to hatred."