By Josef Kuhn
Religion News Service
WASHINGTON (RNS) More than a thousand rabbis from around the world have signed a statement denouncing the burning of an Israeli mosque as police arrested a suspect who is alleged to be a Jewish extremist.
"We condemn those in Israel who exacerbate conflict and strife, and who insist that only one people or religion belongs to this land," said the statement, which organizers say was overwhelmingly signed by U.S. rabbis.
The statement was presented on Thursday (Oct. 6) by a delegation of dozens of rabbis and peace activists to the imam of Tuba-Zangria, the Galilean village where the mosque was torched.
The statement was initiated by the New Israel Fund (NIF), an organization that promotes human rights and religious pluralism in Israel.
David Rosenn, the chief operating officer of NIF and a Conservative rabbi, called the mosque arson "a flagrant challenge to Jewish history and values."
The envoys to Tuba-Zangria were led by a coalition established in 2009 in response to a book that argued that, in times of war, Jewish law permits the pre-emptive killing of noninvolved gentiles, including children.
The arson has been condemned by Israel's chief rabbis and a host of Jewish groups in the United States, including the Anti-Defamation League, which said the attack represented "the violence and hatred among fringe groups of Israeli Jewish extremists."
Israeli officials have arrested a suspect in the arson, described by The Associated Press as an "18-year-old seminary student with ties to one of the most hardline Jewish settlements in the West Bank."