Rafael Castro

Open letter to our Israeli friends

As friends of Israel and the Jewish people whose fondness for Zionism and Jewish civilization is rooted in respect and admiration for the enlightened and humanitarian values both historically embody, we are concerned.

We are concerned by the rise of political and religious forces in Israel whose increasingly aggressive and violent rhetoric against Palestinians is matched by disdain and indifference towards Israel’s friends. We are concerned by the rise of voices calling for Israelis to not self-identify with the Western world and what are colloquially labelled “Western values”.

We believe that such an estrangement, motivated by an alleged conflict between Jewish and Western values, serves neither the Jewish people nor the State of Israel. And that it will hurt humanity as a whole.

The spectacular success of Zionism and of the Jewish people, which rose from the ashes of the Holocaust to build a cultural, economic and scientific powerhouse in their historic homeland, was largely owed to the strength of Israel’s political and judicial institutions. And to the admirable fact that these institutions never gave up on liberal democratic ethics even during the most trying moments the Jewish State endured.

The sanctity of all human lives, equality before the law and respect for minority rights are not just values Jewish and contemporary Western civilization share. They are values that the Jewish people bequeathed to the West through Biblical scriptures and a national narrative soaked in blood and tears, but also brimming with humanitarian ideals and moral heroism.

It is these ideals and this heroism that we hope Israel continues to embrace in order for the Jewish State to remain a role-model in the region and to shine as a proverbial light unto the nations.

If our hopes are dashed, we will not cease to be friends of Israel. Nevertheless, it will be unavoidable that the share of your friends who support humanitarian and enlightened values sinks and the share of those who support Israel and Zionism out of sheer animosity towards Muslims, sympathy for religious-racial jingoism and disdain for the values the Jewish people championed throughout the 19th and 20th centuries surges.

It would be a pity if any of this occurs. And it would be a tragedy if contemporary Israeli political and religious leaders tarnished through their words and actions the reputation of a state and a faith built upon the self-sacrifice and selfless devotion of countless generations of Jews.

Rafael Castro is a conservative Italian-Colombian whose columns regularly appear on Arutz 7.

Fred Maroun is a progressive Lebanese-Canadian who regularly blogs for the Times of Israel.

About the Author
Rafael Castro was born in Italy and earned a degree in Economics at Yale and a masters degree in Political Science at Hebrew University. In addition to working in the development aid sector, he has years of experience in the German IT industry and has written op-eds for over 10 years at YNET and Arutz 7.
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