July 26, 2023
I am filled with hope: First, because yesterday we have taken yet another important step in our protest, for it is now clearer than ever that we are no longer dealing with just a legal reform, or even a regime overhaul, this is rather a struggle for our very identity.
I am filled with hope, for our shared goal has taken a clearer form - we engage, as I have long argued, in a fundamental and just struggle for the identity, leading values and character of the country we want to live in, we want our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren to live in.
And this goal is simple to define:
We want a Jewish, democratic, egalitarian state, in the spirit of the Israeli Declaration of Independence. And I’ll add another two important words: For real!
Such a country can be a home for orthodox and secular Jews, non-jews and even anti- Zionists, who will all be entitled to fully equal rights, duties and opportunities. However, none of these groups, nor any other group comprising the Israeli cultural collage, would be able to change the character of the country, its identity or basic values as they stem from our bill of rights - the Declaration of Independence.
For this to happen we must set an additional goal: the establishment of a constitutive council that will formulate an up-to-date social contract and principles for a minimalist constitution, that will anchor the connection between “Jewish” and “democratic”, on the basis of civil equality in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence.
There is no reason to bemoan on yesterday’s legislation. It did a great service to the goals of our struggle since it clarifies the difference between good and evil, and explains that which we struggle for. Not for nothing, as I was going to Jerusalem yesterday with good friends of mine, I was hoping that there will be no compromise whatsoever. Because the proposed compromises that were on the agenda resemble a band-aid on a bleeding wound and would have legitimized that which is absolutely not legitimate.
Our immediate demand is to stop the legislation, not in order for any side to win, but in order to produce something new, by broad national consensus, that will benefit both sides but can be nothing short of a Jewish, democratic, egalitarian state, in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence.
I returned from Jerusalem yesterday afternoon in high spirits. We have a wonderful and incredibly powerful movement, with more and more young people joining the adults and the elderly. This movement has impressively come together over these past 30 weeks, all thanks to our wonderful protest leaders who also organized, supported and led the exciting march from Democracy Square in Tel Aviv to the Israeli Knesset in Jerusalem. Our movement has deep faith in our cause, as proven by the tens of thousands who marched to Jerusalem, and the many hundreds of thousands who supported and admired from afar.
It is imperative that people continuously understand our goals. They are simple, nothing in them is “too much to ask”, these are simply the agreements which our country was based upon: A Jewish, democratic, egalitarian state in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence. Who can deny them? Only those who want to change the identity of our country and its values.
The struggle against the amendment of the Reasonableness Doctrine, or against the Override clause, or even against changing the commission for the appointment of judges are extremely important secondary struggles, but they are only one part of the struggle for the goals which matter most.
We must realize that our struggle will be long, there will be ups and downs, but the direction, path and basic principles must not negotiable. Our principles are sacred and important to us no less, and even more than those of the other side.
In this struggle we must understand who the real opposition is. It is not the ultra- Orthodox, despite their wrongdoing, their non-participation in economic life and their evasion of military service, which we will have to deal with. Due to their separatism - the ultra-orthodox are not real opponents in the struggle for the image of the state. It is not Likud people because this is a movement that has stripped itself of any content, and is in need of deep revision of its ideology and values. It is not the people of mainstream religious Zionism - because we can still have a dialogue with them and find common grounds. Our true opposition is: the extremist orthodox Zionist party; the messianic nationalism led by Smotritch, The racist, Jewish-supremacist party “Otzma Yehudit” and the Kohelet Policy Forum.
Our struggle must focus on them, and raise awareness to the State of Judah that they are establishing with each passing day; aiming to take over and change the identity, values and image of the State of Israel. All spotlights must be focused on them, to expose their plans. We must understand that they are building, day in and day out, a bi-national apartheid state right under our noses. A country that will be neither Jewish nor democratic, will be neither safe nor equal. This would be the end of the Zionist dream.
For too many years we have allowed them to grow stronger, and today they have a dangerous influence on Israel’s centers of power, they get plenty of public money as well as abundant funding by evangelicals and others like them, they hold important ministries of the Government, they are imbued with a messianic mission and they currently dictate the agenda of the coalition, the government and the State. They must be made illegitimate because they are our real and most dangerous rivals.
There is no clearer indication to the absolute loss of our moral path, than a criminal defendant establishing in Israel an illegitimate, immoral, horrific coalition, comprising of racists, Jewish supremacists, Messianic fanatics, homophobes, misogynists, ex- criminals.
We must resist this coalition relentlessly until we succeed in dismantling it, using every legal and democratic measure, in order to save our country from the destruction of a third Temple. Remember that unusual times require unusual measures, but such measures must be legal, democratic, legitimate, and without even the least violence!
To that end, we need a broad and consensual action-plan. The following is the ten-point plan I propose:
Repeatedly clarify the goals of our struggle: a Jewish, democratic, egalitarian state, in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence.
Strengthen coordination and strategy between all protest organizations and groups and with the opposition parties, through the establishment of a top coordination committee or in any other effective way that will lead to the concentration of forces and efforts at critical intersections.
Maintain the spirit and energy of the struggle: explain to people around us that what happened over the last few days, including the legislation regarding the Reasonableness Doctrine, provides the best justification for the struggle and its escalation to more effective measures.
Take every measure to challenge the legitimacy of the government: first and foremost - continue and extend the suspension of volunteering for the reserves. No democratic act is more worthy of this, certainly in light of yesterday's legislation.
Expand our areas of action: recruit professionals, start planning a widespread tax revolt in the country.
Political action: among other things, continue to reason with the few in the coalition who have any sense left in their heads and try to win them over.
The struggle for identity – also in local government: focusing on municipal elections in order to build a solid infrastructure for the next national elections as well.
Focused propaganda on our real opponents: the people of the Messianic, Kahanist, racist state of Judah, and the Kohelet Policy Forum, with the clear aim of thwarting their plans to change the essence of our democracy and state.
Continued consolidation of our wing and adding more people to it who understand that this is not a fight between left and right-wing but rather a fight for the identity and values of our country. Educating the public, especially the young, is one of the most important goals of the protest and the main resource for all the actions we would like to carry out.
Prepare for the required political change: the political arena is the target for change. Start to think long-term and build an infrastructure for the next elections.
And most importantly, my brothers and sisters in the struggle: do not rely on the High Court of Justice, the Americans or anyone else to save us from ourselves. It is in our hands. Together.
Yuval Diskin is the Former head of Israel Security Agency (Shabak)
Contributed by Yuval Diskin to USA for Israeli Democracy