January 11, 2011, New York -- In response to the Knesset's decision last week to form a parliamentary committee investigating Israeli groups critical of the Israel Defense Forces, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, and Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism issued the following statement:
We in the Reform Movement are deeply concerned by the recent initiative approved by Israel's Knesset that calls for a parliamentary investigation of Israeli organizations that have been critical of Israel's military operations.
The recent initiative undermines Israel's place in the global community and is a source of concern to the Jewish community throughout the world and to Israel's friends everywhere.
Israel has always been a vibrant democracy that supports the right of every citizen to speak freely and that encourages volunteer organizations to express their views, critical or otherwise, about all aspects of Israeli society. The activity of human rights organizations in Israel is a tribute to Israel's democratic values and strengthens her democratic character.
The Reform Movement takes great pride in the State of Israel and in her democratic traditions. We join with those in Israel including Cabinet Minister Benny Begin and Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein who have expressed concern about this legislation. We urge that political and partisan considerations not be permitted to intimidate potential government critics from the left or the right or to discourage the vibrant debate of which Israel and her supporters are justly proud.
We urge the Knesset to reconsider its actions. If action should be necessary to assure transparency and accountability of volunteer associations in Israel, we urge that it be done in a non-partisan manner and include review of all organizations across the political spectrum.