Time to battle the racists in our midst

This morning we awoke, in the state of the Jewish people, on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, with huge signs in yellow and black reading “Beitar [Jerusalem’s soccer team] will forever remain pure.”

We are returning to an agenda of racism that is spreading like wildfire in our midst.

How fortunate we are to have Arcadi Gaydamak (owner of Beitar Jerusalem), who was sentenced this week to three years in prison in France for corruption, to teach morals and values in our country!

In contrast, we have his coach, Eli Cohen, who said that so long as there are no Arab players on the team, everything is fine.

And the team chairman, Itzik Kornfein, who rationalized that the players joining the team are not really Muslims, but Chechens.

To add insult to injury on this momentous day, a radio station called this morning, asking me to comment on the news about a young Druze man, Rani Tarif, a student who works as a security guard at a government office, who was repeatedly called out, disgraced and prevented from entering night clubs around Haifa with his Jewish friends.

Just as we require nations of the world on this day, and rightly so, to create a plan of action against anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia, it is not enough for us to say we will not cross over into racism and then do it anyway.

We need a comprehensive plan put in place in the educational and legal systems, and in the entire public sector, and we must show zero tolerance for all forms of racism. “Kee b’Nafshenu hee” — because that is who we are.

About the Author
Rabbi Michael Melchior is a leading advocate for social justice in Israel, education for all, Jewish-Arab reconciliation and co-existence, protection of the environment, and Israel-Diaspora relations. Through his work, Rabbi Melchior seeks to strengthen Israeli civil society so it may catalyze significant social change in the State of Israel. He was a member of Knesset for the Meimad Party. Rabbi Melchior continues to hold the title of Chief Rabbi of Norway.