Yesterday (Tues, 11/12), the Im Tirzu movement held two panel discussions related to the international celebration of “Human Rights Day.” Prominent activists from the right attended and made it clear that the left doesn’t have a monopoly on issues of human dignity, freedom of speech and human rights.

First panel discussion

First panel discussion

First Panel Discussion: Social Activists for Jewish Rights

Opening remarks were made by Im Tirzu chairman, Matan Peleg. He alluded to the long history of Israel’s conservative movement standing up for human rights despite allegations to the contrary by the international press and liberals. He introduced a panel of renowned activists: Pini Badash, who has served as mayor of the Omer local council since 1990 and as member of the Knesset for Tzomet between 1992 and 1998, Oved Hugi, grass-roots activist for Jewish rights in Southern Tel Aviv, Temple Mt. activist, Arnon Segal and renowned attorney, Yoram Sheftel, widely considered one of Israel’s top defense lawyers and an authority on Israel’s judicial system.

Badash spoke about the growing problem of Bedouin unrest in the Negev. He called for Israel’s government to take tougher measures dealing with continued violence against Jews living in the South and the courts’ incompetence cleaning up problems they helped create. He remarked that “judges are afraid to convict Bedouins who openly threaten them in court sessions,” and that “Israel’s judicial system is biased towards Jews.”

Hugi spoke about increased lawlessness in Southern Tel-Aviv where Sudanese and Eritrean illegal immigrants have all but taken over swaths of neighborhoods adjacent to downtown Tel-Aviv. He said that authorities have designated a border separating between the better neighborhoods and those overrun by illegals.

Segal talked about the segregation at the Temple Mt., Judaism’s holiest site and location of both Temples where Muslims erected the Al-Asqa mosque, claiming it as theirs. He told listeners that Jews are personas non-gratas there and that while Muslims incite violence against the West , Jews face humiliation as they wait for hours to enter the compound.

Sheftel spoke of the Supreme Court and how it has become an impediment to free speech since 1975 when Aharon Barack was inaugurated Israel’s Attorney General. He lamented that prior to the 1980’s as many as 95% of Israelis thought favorably about this institution. That number currently stands at only 65%. He spoke of the Court being the single biggest threat to Israel’s well being and ability to maintain its national character.

Second Panel Discussion: Minority Religious Leaders in support of Israel

2nd panel discussion

2nd panel discussion

The second panel featuring Rabbi Yuval Sherlo, Druze spiritual leader and IDF general (ret) Jihad Kablan and outspoken Israel advocate Father Gabriel Nadaf was introduced by Bayit Yehudi candidate and founder of Im Tirzu Ronen Shoval. Shoval spoke of the role religion has played in the conflicts in the Middle East and the importance of minorities in Israeli society.

Rabbi Sherlo talked about the importance of the Jewish character of the State of Israel and related to the fact that Judaism stresses minority rights. Nadaf addressed the audience with a touching plea to help Christians in the Middle East who’ve been the subject of mass murder at the hands of ISIS. He said Israel is the home of the Jews and that Christians support its right to self determination.

Kablan told his personal story and how his father fought along the Jews to create Israel. He said he’s proud to be an Israeli and would give his life for the country. His son, the first Druze in the Israeli Air Force was in attendance.

The second panel was followed by a speech by Arab Muslim Zionist leader, Anett Haskia, who recently announced her candidacy for Habayit Hayehudi, Israel’s foremost right wing party. She gave an impassioned speech urging Israeli Arabs to take responsibility for their actions. She said she represents the true interests of Israeli Arabs and will fight to give Israel a better name in the world once elected. She spoke in favor of the Jewish State Law, whereby Israel would be officially recognized as the “Jewish State,” the Ha’tikva as the official national anthem and Hebrew as the primary language. Anett called on people from all walks of life to support her Knesset bid.

Anett received flowers and an achievement prize for her activism on behalf of the State of Israel.

Anett Haskia addressing supporters

Anett Haskia addressing supporters

Anett’s speech was followed by a break after which Temple Mt. activist Yehuda Glick who was was the target of an assassination attempt on Oct. 29th ago and is still recovering from his wounds addressed the audience. He was greeted enthusiastically with people chanting his name. Rabbi Glick gave thanks to G-d and those who had prayed for his recovery. He spoke of the increased need for freedom of prayer on the Temple Mt.

Rabbi Yehudah Glick thanks G-d and those who prayed for his recovery

Rabbi Yehudah Glick thanks G-d and those who prayed for his recovery

There was an interesting statement made by a member of the audience who blamed the founder of the religious Zionist movement, Rabbi Avraham Kook for Israel’s inability to allow Jews prayer on the Temple Mt. He alluded to Rav Kook’s ruling that it was not time to create a Beit Din (religious court) on Har Ha’bayit.