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The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil,    but because of the people who don't do anything about it    
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A Holidays Message from ACRI President Sami Michael
Dear Friends,

Throughout generations, the Festival of Spring and Liberty has created a sense of mutual responsibility and social solidarity. The Passover Seder is celebrated with open doors and with lights shining through the windows. The phrase `all who are hungry, come and eat` has a meaning that emanated through the soul of the nation, which drew strength from the belief that we were responsible for one another. But unfortunately, the State of Israel, 67 years after its founding, has become a bastion of the rich and pompous, separate from the abandoned fields of the country`s needy. The socio-economic gaps between those living in the country`s center and its periphery, the housing shortage and the collapse of the welfare system have tarnished the solidarity that serves as the cornerstone of civilized society. The frustration and despair are not being channeled towards an appropriate outlet, but rather towards the poor and helpless. It is sad to see that racism is proliferating among us, that the weak are being alienated from us, and that the chasms between different social groups are widening day by day. Jews do not want to live among Arabs, secular citizens are moving away from religious neighborhoods, light-skinned residents are placing barriers to prevent the integration of those with dark skin, and non-Jewish citizens are subjected to nationalistic incitement against them.

Such violent social rifts as those between the left and right, Mizrahim and Ashkenazim, and Jews and Arabs are rare throughout our history. Those tasked with enforcing Israel`s democracy have themselves fallen prey to the illness that is decaying our values. The revelation that female police officers have become habitual victims of harassment to senior officers induces melancholy thoughts about the moral foundations of one of society`s most important institutions.

In an environment of war and nflamed nationalist passions, there arises an increased tendency to suppress free speech and expression by persecuting those brave souls who declare that there exists another way to resolve conflict. Those who proclaim a path of peace are vilified as traitors, those who raise their voice against the Occupation and violations of human rights are considered enemies of Israel.

As the Festival of Spring and Liberty arrives, we – ACRI`s staff, members and supporters – refuse to give in to despair. Surrendering to a sense of powerlessness or isolation has never solved social ills. In spite of everything, Israel is a rich and democratic country. Laws and democratic institutions still serve to guide her along her path. There are still a plethora of people with good-will who are striving to live a life according to humanistic values. We have the ability to reignite that light in our windows, and open our doors to those in need, to those who are different from us, and to those neighbors who were created in the same image as us. When we wish one another a happy Festival of Liberty, we must recall that happiness will not flourish in a locked fortress of isolation and racism. Most Israeli holidays are celebrated in a universal spirit, and these festivals are a perfect opportunity to renew the social solidarity that has always been a guarantee of our existence.

May the Passover and Easter holidays find you well.
Wishing you a happy festival of liberty.

Sami Michael

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