By Yaron Sideman

Throughout the next week, Jewish families around the world will come together and embrace freedom by celebrating Passover. Passover reminds us of when our ancestors gained their freedom some 3,000 years ago, and we have been passing the concept of freedom from one generation to the next, imbuing our children and grandchildren with the same sense of respect for others that we inherited.

And so, as I witness displays of disrespect toward others that spread hatred and animosity, such as the ads slandering the Muslim community that will be running on Philadelphia buses as of this week, I feel compelled, as an Israeli and a Jew, to voice my objection and to join those denouncing such messages that perpetuate a vicious cycle of hate.

For me and for all Israelis, fighting for religious freedom is personal. The Jewish people have spent thousands of years in exile. The value of freedom and all that derives from it - equality, respect for others, human rights, freedom of religion, pluralism - is engraved in our personal and collective psyches. It is part of our DNA as a Jewish people. This strong sense of freedom underpinned the creation of Israel. Our forebears came together to establish a democracy that is today characterized by its stability, vibrancy, and love of freedom.

Freedom does not only apply to the Jewish people of Israel. One-fifth of Israel's population is Arab Israelis, and the vast majority of them are Muslim. Not always do Israel and its Muslim neighbors agree on everything. Not always does the Israeli Arab population see eye-to-eye with the Israeli government. Israel has had its share of differences and tensions, both with our neighbors and in our own midst, for many years.

If there is one lesson that we have learned over the years, it is this: Only if we respect one another, embrace one another, and talk to one another can we resolve disagreements, eliminate biases, and remove prejudices that often exist between people, cultures, and nations.

Israel chooses peace: peace with our Muslim neighbors and harmony with the Israeli Arab citizens in our midst. We live together and share and shape a common future. Recently, Israel held elections in which the third-largest political party turned out to be an Israeli Arab party. I am proud of the fact that the Israeli Muslim population has a stake in the country's future and has a voice in determining that future. At the end of the day, they are my neighbors.

And so, as I encounter displays of disrespect and hatred toward the Muslim community, toward my neighbors, I feel compelled to stand up and cry:

This is wrong, this is not our way, and this is not Israel's way. I invite all freedom-loving people to join me.

Yaron Sideman is the consul general of Israel to the Mid-Atlantic Region. cga@philadelphia.mfa.gov.il