Representatives of the Israeli governing coalition and their counterparts from the opposition are meeting now with Israel’s President Isaac Herzog in the wake of the government’s proposed radical legislation impacting fundamental judicial policing and civil rights within Israel and the occupation of the West Bank. That proposed legislation has provoked hundreds of thousands of pro-democracy Israeli protesters to take to the streets in peaceful demonstrations.
Surely we in the international Reform Movement and all who share our core values hope that this moment of deep crisis, even as Israel prepares to celebrate the 75th anniversary of its founding, will provide exciting and forward-looking opportunities to strengthen Israel as a Jewish and a democratic state.
There is a growing chorus of calls for Israel to undertake the challenges of writing a Constitution based upon the principles and aspirations articulated in its Declaration of Independence from 1948. If we are to join in efforts, even from afar, to support this undertaking, we need to reconnect with the dreams of Israel’s founders; and now it is possible to do so.
In 2020, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, through the CCAR Press, published Deepening the Dialogue: Jewish Americans and Israelis Envisioning the Jewish-Democratic State (edited by Rabbi Stanley M. Davids and Rabbi John L. Rosove) with essays by 18 diverse American and Israeli thought leaders (written in English and Hebrew) that address the core challenges confronting Israel as it struggles to be both a Jewish and a democratic state. That vision was embraced clearly and forthrightly within the soaring aspirational language of Megilat HaAtzmaut, Israel’s Declaration of Independence.
As the government of Israel struggles to preserve its democratic and Jewish character, this volume will help us to join the conversation and clarify for ourselves and for others the many complex challenges facing Israel today while offering a clear path forward.