Like many of us who care deeply about the land and the people of Israel and who have an unwavering commitment to the American-Israel relationship, we are closely observing unfolding events in Israel surrounding proposed judicial reforms with sadness and concern.
The vote that passed in the Knesset Monday rejecting the Supreme Court’s use of a “reasonableness standard” was the first major piece of legislation that many worry will minimize the checks and balances of the Israeli system of government. We hold democracy as a sacred value, both here and abroad. Our shared history reminds us that democratic institutions must be protected for Jews and all historically disadvantaged communities to thrive. Any reforms to the judiciary should reflect a broad consensus of Israeli citizens.
To understand this law and its impact, both in the immediate and the long term, please join us for a special webinar with Professor Reuven Hazan, Former Chair of Political Science at Hebrew University on Tuesday, August 1 at noon. Register here for the link.
As we enter Tisha B'av, a communal day of mourning, remembering the destruction of the first and second temples, this divisiveness and disunity is even more palpable. At the Jewish Alliance, we are committed to building a space for respectful discourse, Jewish pride, and a thriving diverse Jewish peoplehood, as well as support for the State of Israel.
The Jewish Alliance is one of many Jewish communal organizations that fall under the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA). JFNA has been working closely with other international Jewish organizations, including the Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Hayesod, and the World Zionist Organization to promote compromise, but those efforts were unsuccessful.
You can read here the letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu and Minority Leader Yair Lapid cosigned by all these organizations. We have also linked to a letter from Eric Fingerhut, JFNA CEO, and Julie Platt, JFNA Board Chair, written just prior to the vote that adds context to this inflection point in Israel’s complex story.
JFNA leadership is actively working to determine the next steps as the situation unfolds. Please see JFNA’s statement below in response to Knesset’s vote on the Reasonableness Law:
The Jewish Federations of North America are deeply pained over the growing polarization we have witnessed in Israeli society as a result of the judicial reform process. We are also extremely disappointed that the leaders of the coalition moved ahead with a major element of the reforms without a process of consensus, despite the serious disagreements across Israeli society and the efforts of President Herzog to arrive at a compromise.
Our everlasting love for and commitment to the Jewish State and people of Israel transcend any policy or government action. It is clear that the work of building our Jewish State continues, and the Jewish Federation system renews and affirms its commitment to this work. We will continue to support the organizations and individuals who are helping to unite Israelis and to build the institutions of civil society that will allow the diverse populations of Israel and global Jewry to live together in peace and harmony and to resolve our differences respectfully.
We urge the coalition leaders to suspend any further unilateral changes to the judicial reforms, and urge all parties to return to negotiations under the auspices of President Herzog.