Yair Lev

Thank you for putting democracy first

The power of community activism lies in its ability to effect change. For months, a concerned group of Israeli and American Jews gathered outside Arthur Dantchik’s office and residence to protest his funding of the right-wing Israeli think tank, Kohelet Policy Forum. These were not mere acts of protest, but rather, sincere appeals, anchored in the hope that Mr. Dantchik would genuinely hear and understand our message. We are heartened by Mr. Dantchik’s recent public announcement that he is discontinuing his funding of Kohelet Policy Forum and calling for healing and national unity.

Israel, recognized as a beacon of democratic values, is now facing significant challenges to its democratic norms, increasing the threat of political dictatorship and creating intense internal divisions throughout society. Kohelet Policy Forum, which created the divisive framework to overhaul Israel’s judiciary, stands at the center of these challenges. This overhaul, along with other initiatives undertaken and proposed by the most right-wing government in Israel’s history, are seen by many as directly threatening Israel’s core values of inclusivity and equality, and its historical commitment to democracy. As is evident every week as hundreds of thousands of Israelis take to the streets across the country to the calls of “De-mo-crat-ya!”, the country’s societal fabric is now at risk of coming apart.

We are very grateful Mr. Dantchik has now chosen a path that resonates deeply with those who advocate for a united, pro-democratic Israel: “…When a society becomes dangerously fragmented, people must come together to preserve democracy. I stopped donating to think tanks in Israel, including the Kohelet Policy Forum. I believe what is most critical at this time is for Israel to focus on healing and national unity,” he said in his announcement. His decision to cease funding Kohelet Policy Forum is not merely a financial decision. It stands as a profound commitment to preserving the unity of Israel’s intricate tapestry of identities. Amid worrisome, deepening divisions throughout the country, Mr. Dantchik’s stance emerges as a powerful call for unity and restoration.

In an era in which Israel grapples with divisive forces aiming to undermine its democracy, unified voices and collective action to preserve it become critical. The battle being undertaken by the Israeli people and Jews worldwide is meant not only to preserve our shared values and norms, but also and more urgently, to defend Israel’s democracy, bridge the divides, and heal the wounds that are tearing at our dynamic, but fragile, society.

We, as a collective of concerned Israelis and Jews in Greater Philadelphia, offer our profound gratitude to Mr. Dantchik for his insightful decision to cease support of the Kohelet Policy Forum. This choice signifies not only a commitment to the well-being of Israel but also to its democratic character and the unity and long-term wellbeing of its people.

Together with the local Israeli and American Jews whose names appear below, we will continue to work collaboratively throughout the Greater Philadelphia Jewish community towards restoring and promoting our common values and strengthening the people of Israel. Am Yisrael Chai!


Eli Albalancy

Karen Averill

Norman Back

Dr. Tali Mazar Ben-Josef

Anna Blumenthal

Golan Brunson

Dr. Nurit Glaser Chodik

Danielle Gutman PhD

Rabbi Dr. Joel Hecker

Yael Heyman PhD

Shiri Eshed Jerner

Maya Jacobs

Yuval Katz PhD

Dr. Maayan Lawental

Dr. Yair Lev

Rabbi Sue Levi Elwell PhD

Dr. Dafna Ofer

Dr. Yael Porat-Mosenco

Tsipora Razon

Iris Shamir

Hanna Shapira

Amichai Shdaimah

Dr. Corey Shdaimah

Lisa Schiffman

Liat Schrift

Reuven Shiloh

Zippi Arazi Shiloh

Sheryl Sitman

Rebecca Stein

Sharone Trager-Hanoch

Adam Wishkovsky

Cynthia Wishkovsky

Na’ama Dekel Yarden

About the Author
Dr. Yair Lev holds dual citizenship in Israel and the US. For the past 15 years he has resided in the US, first in New York City and now in the Philadelphia area. He lives in Lower Merion township with his wife and two children.
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