WASHINGTON (JTA) – The leader of the Reform Jewish movement urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to preserve religious pluralism in a message congratulating him on forming a new government.
“We hope that as this new government moves forward, it will take into consideration the values of inclusion and pluralism for all of Israel’s citizens – values that are at the core not only of our movement, but of Israel’s founding declaration,” Rabbi Rick Jacobs, the president of the Union for Reform Judaism, said in a statement May 7, a day after Netanyahu announced his governing coalition.
“Both a Jewish and a democratic state are at the heart of Israel’s mission, and we urge the prime minister to insist on the balancing of both as he moves forward,” Jacobs said.
Netanyahu’s narrow coalition sees a return to influential government posts of haredi Orthodox Jews who have rejected a number of reforms aimed at accommodating other streams of Judaism.
Additionally, the junior partner in the coalition, Jewish Home, champions limits on nongovernmental groups that the party says harm Israel and favors policies that it claims would enhance Israel’s character as a Jewish state. Critics of those policies say they would come at a price of freedom of expression for minorities.