The Istanbul Convention is a human rights treaty that was drafted by the Council of Europe and was opened for signature on May 11, 2011, in Istanbul, Turkey. The treaty aims to prevent violence, protect victims, and end the impunity of perpetrators. The treaty is based on the premise that tackling domestic violence requires international cooperation. Recently, there have been voices in the Israeli government calling on Israel to join the treaty. Should Israel do so, it will obligate Israel to make rules that meet the requirements of the Council of Europe.
Perhaps the treaty is indeed a sincere attempt to deal with the escalating violence around the world, but Israel must decide its own rules. We should not adopt cultures or rules that do not belong to Israel, but conduct ourselves the way a Jewish state should conduct itself in every aspect of its life, including when it comes to violence of any kind—from domestic violence through abused migrants, and to every other form of mistreatment.
The people of Israel were given morally just rules thousands of years ago, which have become the basis of Western ethics. However, when our sages established them, they were based on our ancestors’ profound understanding of human nature and its whims and dispositions. When other cultures adopted Jewish law, they twisted and warped it to the point where it has become unrecognizable and, worse, worthless.
The result is that these ethics do not work. For all the rules and regulations by which the world has tried to curb violence and make people more humane toward each other, the opposite has happened. We have become more violent, unjust, and abusive.
Therefore, in order to understand how to deal with human nature and prevent abuse, we should not look outward, but into our own past. Our sages teach us how to reign human nature successfully. They tell us that we should not suppress any trait or try to eradicate it, but only use it for the common good. In this way, we become masters of our impulses instead of letting them drive us into mischief.
The social rules of our ancestors teach us how to rise above our ego and become considerate. They help us transform from individuals who feel separate from others into people who feel deep sympathy with, and empathy for every created being. People who have been transformed in this way will not hurt a soul.
This is why maintaining our unique characteristics is imperative. And the most unique characteristic we must preserve, cherish, and nurture is the rule, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” This should be the supreme law to which everything and everyone aspires. It should be the lighthouse that shows all of humanity the road to safety.
The law of loving others as ourselves is the only treaty that humanity will ever need. It pertains to all religions, all belief systems, all faiths, doctrines, and ideologies. It is the basis of any relationship and the bedrock of every sustainable and thriving society.
This should be the law that the State of Israel embraces, and in this we should be an example to the world. If we accomplish this, the whole world will be convinced that no other treaties are necessary but to love our neighbors as ourselves, and that accomplishing it is not only the ideal, but that it is an achievable aspiration.