The New Israel Fund (NIF) sends our condolences to the families of those who have been murdered and our wishes for a full and speedy recovery to those injured during this latest deadly wave of terror.
We are witnessing a grave escalation of violence in Israel and in the occupied territories, starting with individual attacks and now progressing to acts of revenge and confrontation. We condemn and deplore this escalation, which also threatens to further damage the prospects for a shared society of Jews and Arabs in Israel, so vital to Israel’s existence.
NIF calls on all political and religious leaders, as well as communal Jewish and Arab representatives, to speak responsibly and with restraint, to calm tempers, and to reject incitement and polarization from their own communities. We especially must not allow extremists on either side to drag us into a religious confrontation that could become catastrophic.
Let us not bury our heads in the sand. When Palestinians have no hope for an end to forty-eight years of occupation, the waves of individual and collective violence will most likely continue. Therefore, despite the pain of the past few weeks, the Israeli government’s most urgent task is to work towards promoting a diplomatic solution of the core issues of the conflict. Neither repression of protest nor boycotts of Israel’s Arab minority nor collective punishment will result in greater peace and safety. Expanding the building of settlements in the occupied territories cannot be the answer to violence, and indeed will only spur more terrorist activity.
Prominent Israeli security figures have long warned us that “managing the conflict” would fail to keep Israelis safe. Now, Israel’s leaders must act to protect its citizens. This must include taking substantive steps to confront Israel’s own extremists, further self-determination for the Palestinian people, and pressing ahead towards peace. And now more than ever, Israel must defend freedom of expression, the right to protest and demonstrate, and the right of minorities to express themselves and be heard.