The Dilemma of Jewish Sovereignty and Democracy.

I am intrigued about the future of Jewish sovereignty in Israel, an often controversial topic that most Jews rapidly retort to support, often without any real understanding of its implication. They mean Israel should never fall into the hands of any non-Jewish religious group or nations that don’t identify themselves as Jews. But, how can such an outcome be assured given the democracy Israel’s modern state claims in it’s Basic Law of 1948. Surely a democracy means that people living within a nation’s borders must enjoy an equal right to vote, if so how long will Israel hedge as it defines its borders?

This thorny question is most perplexing and often the root cause of extreme disagreement among Jews. Some of the most religious claim Israel does not require a state, that Israel is a spiritual concept defined in the psyche of its people, further reliance on international law to define borders is meaningless and unproductive. On the other hand those that rely on Israel’s State law and its response to International Law focus on the physical definition of national borders as determined by the laws of consensus. The diversity presents the dilemma of a nation seeking a sovereign guarantee for their Jewish ‘democratic’ Israel.

Under the two-state-solution, once the dream of Israel’s President Shimon Peres and his supporters, Israel would have been divided into a Jewish and a non-Jewish state under the Palestinian Authority. However, the internationally sponsored idea has formally been felled by the election of Reuven Rivlin Israel’s new President who for the next 7 years will promote his vision, a unified state of Israel, a democracy in which all citizens have the right to vote. In the midst of the furor in the middle east, Israel will begin to grapple with the eventuality this single state idea poses to its Jewish ideal.

The pressure exerted on Israel to adopt the two state solution with a partner who is ill defined, ideologically opposed and does not accept Israel’s Jewish status will continue to be formidable. No matter which way Israel’s future population forecasts fall, the risk to Jewish sovereignty in a single state appears to be too much for the Israeli electorate to bare. However, giving up security control to an enemy occupying land, not presently annexed by Israel is daunting and impractical. The status quo can only last so long without Israel moving in one direction or the other, but the untenable advance of regional terrorism and rhetoric will be more alarming to Israel’s Jewish electorate than the prospect of losing its Jewish majority in a future single state.

The question, who will guarantee Jewish sovereignty is fast becoming serious for the future state of Israel. Existing mechanisms within the states legal construct are limited, but there is one which I favor and which fully satisfies the essential guarantee of Jewish sovereignty.Comparative states to a Jewish Israel are the Vatican, Iran and the present possibility of an Islamic State. Although other states may identify themselves as religious, they do not base their constitution on a religion and swear behind it, most separate church and state. Jews also believe a Jewish state is necessary to avoid a future holocaust. The good news, is that there is a model that works.

Jewish sovereignty, guaranteed by national rabbinical representation in a Senate or Upper House of Israel’s government may be a confronting prospect to many, but the national benefits for all groups are presently misunderstood and overlooked. The majority of Israel’s Jewish secular or religious electorate presently participate in the religious services of a local synagogue. Municipally appointed Town Rabbis are periodically nominated by members of community synagogues to represent their communal religious interests. Elected Town Rabbi’s[1] are self-motivated to empower their framework and elevate it to take its place on Israels national political stage. Parliamentary representation in a bicameral government of a single Jewish state may be difficult to comprehend, but societal change can often be orchestrated through grass root participation. Town hall meetings, community activity and representations organized by appointed Town Rabbis and leaders will be hallmarks that signify the success of this future movement.

Simultaneously, shifting governmental priority from its present emphasis on energy and technology to labor intensive domestic industry is essential to satisfy Israel’s growing constituent underclass. Political parties that prioritize development of sustainable industries capable of employing a significant portion of the unemployed and non-participating[2] workforce will benefit. Israel’s indigenous cultural prerogative, including for the optimal growth of tourism is a principle that will serve Jewish and non-Jewish population groups of a single state. As such this is directly tied, specifically as the means to develop skills[3], economic benefits and ultimately deliver financial re-distribution to the broader population.

Jewish objectors may struggle to digest such a prospect, a democracy that stacks its constitutional sovereign deck in favor of its religion. But, the importance of Jewish sovereignty looms so large that the mountain placed over Jewish heads will spur them to embrace unexpected models inspired by their ancient past.


About the Author
Kevin Bermeister is the founder of, a master plan for Jerusalem through the year 2050. Bermeister is a technological innovator, developing substantial businesses in the computer, multimedia and Internet industries. Among his many accomplishments, he was a founding investor of Skype in 2002. He is also an active investor in Israeli real estate.