New York, NY, March 23, 2015… The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today welcomed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s apology to the Israeli Arab community for comments he made to his supporters on Election Day. ADL sent a letter to the prime minister earlier urging him to apologize to the Israeli Arab community and to reinforce his repeatedly expressed view that Arabs in Israel are fully equal citizens in the Jewish state.
Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:
We welcome the prime minister’s outreach and apology to the Israeli Arab community. While I do not believe the prime minister’s Election Day remarks were intended to be anti-Arab or racist, his words left questions in people’s minds about how the Arab community is viewed by Israel’s leadership and their place in Israeli society.
It is important to remember that under Prime Minister Netanyahu’s watch there’s been a significant effort by the Israeli government to integrate Israeli Arabs into the broader society, particularly by investing billions of shekels in improving education and employment opportunities for Israeli Arabs.
Unfortunately, throughout the recent election campaign, there were too many extreme and divisive statements. We reiterate our call to Israelis of all political affiliations to work to heal these wounds and promote inclusion for all in Israel.
In a meeting with representatives of minority communities in Israel, including Arab local council heads, the prime minister said: “I know the things I said several days ago offended some of Israel’s citizens, hurt the Arab citizens. I had no intention to hurt anyone and I am sorry if I did.... I see myself as the prime minister of each and every one of you, all the citizens of Israel, regardless of faith, ethnicity or gender. I see all citizens of Israel as partners in building a prosperous and secure state, a state for all its citizens.”