Yaakov Salame, director of the Israeli Ministry of Interior’s department of religious communities spoke at the most recent IJCIR Advisory Committee meeting that took place on June 11, 2019 in the AJC offices in Jerusalem. Yaakov explained that the 400 people working in the department are present throughout the different religious communities in Israel.
One of the goals of his department is to find ways to work together and accept the other in our midst. Mutual tolerance is essential for the work. The framework for the work in his department mandates interreligious work and he is therefore in favor of there being representation of IJCIR Rabbis in the future departmental activities.
Yaakov explained that his activities takes him into Israeli schools so that work can be done on an educational level with the specific goal of encouraging tolerance of the other. The department has also worked with Tag Meir in Har Nof and elsewhere. When incidents of ethnic hatred develop, a priority has been given to deescalating difficult situations. The idea is that if the heads of ethnic sectors get to know one another, the personal relationships will contribute to positive developments in the relations between the sectors themselves.
Strictly interreligious activities also take place. An example is inter-ministerial work that recently took place with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs helped his department send Israeli Qadis (official Muslim leaders) to Belgium to learn about other communities but also to show how they were successful in Israel when it comes to managing relations between the Muslim minority community and the larger community they are living in. Understanding the Islamic understanding of Israel is very important for ensuring positive future relations with that sector.
The first week of November is the Week of Tolerance supported by his department and this would be a good time to integrate IJCIR representatives into the work. There will also be a conference sponsored by his department during the last week of November, beginning of December to which IJCIR representives were also invited.
אנו רואים בגירושם ממדינת היהודים – מדינת ישראל, של אלפי פליטים מהגרי עבודה – גרי תושב – הננו להבהיר ולהצהיר כי הדבר נוגד את הדת היהודית
תורת ישראל ומוסר הנביאים מצווים עלינו לזכור בכל יום את יציאת מצרים, ולציווי נילווה הצו "ואהבת את הגר וזכרת כי עבד היית בארץ מצרים" דברים י', יט
ההיסטוריה של עם ישראל רצופה רדיפות וגירושים של יהודים והגלייתם. לנו כיהודים אסור על פי הדת והמוסר לגרש את הגרים החיים בתוכנו
אין אנו רשאים לא לנהוג כפי שאנו מצווים על פי מצוות דתנו
We see in their expulsion from the Jewish State - the State of Israel, of thousands of refugees and migrant workers - Ger Toshav - we make it clear that this is contrary to the Jewish religion.
The Torah of Israel and the morality of the prophets command us to remember the Exodus from Egypt every day, and to the command accompanying the decree, "Love the stranger and remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt" (Deut. 10:19).
The history of the Jewish people is full of persecution and expulsion of Jews. We Jews are forbidden by religion and morality to expel the living among us.
We are not permitted not to act as we are commanded according to our religion.