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Protest Speech, Rosh HaAyin

July 29th, 2023

Horse in Protests Israel
Photograph by Ypssi Zamir, Shatil Stock

This Monday the Knesset passed a law to do away with the Reasonableness Doctrine. This is a significant step in the process aimed at crushing and taking over the justice system!

It is a corrupt law! It creates a situation where government ministers are above the people!

They have absolved themselves of the Natural Duty that obligates every civil servant and, in fact, every citizen and every sensible person! A duty to act in a fair and reasonable way or, in plain language - to use common sense!

This evil government is leading us into an unreasonable and shameless era!

An era where the Declaration of Independence values are considered the values of infidels and anarchists! Perhaps they are Hebrew-speaking gentiles!? Maybe they were "captured as babies" so their sins are unintentional?!

It's a dark and gloomy age!

An era where the king is the kingdom!

Truth is a lie!

Honesty is hypocrisy!

Compassion is racism!

Freedom is tyranny!

It is, therefore, our duty today, to take to the streets and pursue any nonviolent way available to stop this Regime Coup that is turning Israeli democracy into totalitarianism of the mob, led by a corrupt man who is willing to trample everything in order to escape justice!

And to those who ask why we are here today – we are here today to drive out the darkness that threatens to wipe out our Democratic and Jewish identity!

Over 100 years ago, one of Zionism's founding fathers, Aaron David Gordon, said that "there will not be a victory of light over darkness until we recognize the simple truth, that rather than fighting darkness, we must amplify the light”!

So we are here today to say, that along with continuing and escalating the protests, we must acknowledge that victory in our struggle does not mean humiliating and defeating the leaders of the regime coup!

Victory means creating a new reality in which, together, we can continue to shape Zionism – which is the Democratic Jewish State of Israel, in the spirit of Israel's Declaration of Independence.

In order to win – in order to amplify the light, we must continue to ask – "What identity did we seek when we came here to this land!?"

Our founding fathers put the answer to this question in the Declaration of Independence. They go back to the past, to the time when we were born as a nation in the Land of Israel. They remind us of the centuries in which we continued to pray and dream of our return to the land of Israel, where our spiritual, religious and political identity was shaped, where we attained statehood, and created cultural values of national and universal significance that are told in the eternal Book of Books.

An so, as we embark today on a struggle for our values, which are "based on freedom, justice, and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel," "we must start from the beginning – and our challenge today is to formulate the values of the Declaration of Independence, written 75 years ago, into a language that will enable all the tribes of Israel to find their heritage within it.

Addressing this issue, Chief Justice Aharon Barak explained: "It is impossible to discuss Israel's identity as a democracy without discussing the Jewish identity of the state. And it is impossible to discuss its Jewish identity without discussing the religious worldview that allows for democracy to exist alongside it!"

He went on to lay out a course of action: "We must turn to the sources of both Judaism and democracy, take the values that are common to both, and on this basis shape the “social contract” for Israeli society."

Judaism and Democracy – These are not contradictory values! As long as we make it clear to ourselves and to the world what our Judaism is, and what our democracy is.

The process that will lead to the answer will be based on four cultural assets that were created by the Jewish people and that shape the democratic worldview.

The first is – Adam was made in the image of God! In other words, each person is a one-time creation that is priceless and has infinite value! This idea, introduced to the world by the Jewish people, from which it follows that all humans are created in the image of God – and are therefore all equal and different – is the beginning of the story that shaped the values of liberal democracy! The liberty and dignity of individuals – and their right to compose their own life story, originate in the book of Genesis, chapter 1, verse 27.

Second – Every person is part of a community, culture, religion and people from which they originate! People’s view of goodness is derived from their heritage, culture, religion and nation.

Third – Diversity is a virtue. Our ability to see and understand others who are different from us enriches us as a group and makes each and every one of us better. As Rabbi Abraham Isaac HaCohen Kook said: "The Holy One, blessed be He, was charitable with His world, by not putting all the talents in one place, not in one person, not in one people, not in one country, not in one generation, not in one world!"

Fourth – Disputes should be debated in the [more lenient] Beit Hillel way! "which takes precedence over the [stricter] rules of the Beit Shammai school of thought."

This will happen only if we create a civil debate that reflects on the political system, while maintaining the protests.

If we establish – in every city, in every village, in every settlement in the country – conversation circles! If in every circle we encounter those who disagree with our positions, listen to them, understand their fears and remember that victory means proceeding, together, in the Zionist enterprise, in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence!

Will the magnitude of the crisis we face today become an opportunity, which we have, so far, refused to acknowledge!? I believe we have the power to shape our future!

This is the only way we will prevail! It is in our hands!


Ami Ayalon is an Israeli politician and a former member of the Knesset for the Labor Party. He was previously head of the Shin Bet, Israel's secret service, and commander-in-chief of the Navy.

Contributed by Ami Ayalon to USA for Israeli Democracy


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