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US reform rabbis: Loyalty oath undemocratic
US Reform rabbis issued a statement Sunday condemning the loyalty oath bill, an amendment to Israel`s Citizenship Law that requires all new non-Jewish immigrants to pledge allegiance to a Jewish democratic state.
The Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), which authored the statement, warned that forcing Arab citizens to take a loyalty oath will strengthen Israel`s enemies and harm the State`s security.
CCAR claimed that the oath, proposed by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman of Yisrael Beiteinu and supported by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, creates `one law for Jews and another law for non-Jews.` The amendment was approved in the Knesset on October 10.
`It would turn Israel into the very kind of country which historically Jews themselves have rightly cursed for their unequal treatment of non-Christians and non-Muslims,` CCAR stated.
According to CCAR, which represents nearly 2,000 Reform rabbis, the loyalty oath denies non-Jewish citizens the political rights and the freedom of conscience guaranteed by Israel`s Declaration of Independence. The organization quoted the declaration promising full and equal citizenship to Arab Israelis, and asserted that the loyalty oath goes against this provision.
`Our deep conviction that Israel is and must remain both Jewish and democratic is precisely what compels us to oppose this oxymoronic law,` CCAR stated. `For in requiring non-Jewish citizens to pledge loyalty to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, this legislation greatly diminishes Israel`s Jewish character and compromises its democratic commitment.`
The organization was especially outraged that the loyalty oath might send a message that co-existence between Jews, Muslims and Christians in a Jewish state is impossible.
`More than symbolic loyalty statements, Israel needs its non-Jewish citizens as partners in peace, equally invested in the future of the state,` CCAR said.
Moreover, the Reform leaders wrote that the loyalty oath defies the Torah, which commands the Jewish people not to oppress others living amongst it.
`If this legislation comes to the floor of the Knesset,` the statement concluded, `we implore all those who themselves would be loyal to Israel`s democratic and Jewish character to oppose and vote down once and for all this un-Jewish and un-democratic legislation.`
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