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Submission to the Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI) following consultation process by the New Israel Fund Australia

Foundation (NIF Australia) in Australia during February and March 2014 seeking views about Israels character as a Jewish and democratic state

Pages A: B: C: Introduction Contributors in NIF Australias consultation process What constitutes the participants vision, as Australian Jews, of a "Jewish and democratic state? - What are the main characteristics that should define Israel as Jewish? - What are the main characteristics that should define Israel as democratic? - What rules should govern Israels balancing of its wish clearly to express its Jewishness and its desire to be a state that grants equal rights to all its citizens? Some other specific proposals or recommendations re Israel as a Jewish democratic state Should the special relationship between Israel and world Jewry be officially expressed and, if so, how? 1-2 2-5 5-9 6-8 8-9 9

D: E:

10-11 11-12

A: Introduction The directors, executive director and advisory council members1 of NIF Australia thank Professor Ruth Gavison and the JPPI for this historic opportunity to participate in their survey of views of world Jewry about Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. NIF Australia participated in this process by: a) preparing a briefing paper and making that and further reading material, including material distributed by JPPI, available on its website; 2
2 The briefing paper was also provided for information to the Executive Director of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) and to Executive members and the CEO of the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies.

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b) sending invitations to everyone on its Australia-wide database to submit views; c) arranging professionally facilitated workshops in Sydney and Melbourne. 108 people responded to the invitation by accessing the online materials. 49 written submissions were received and there were 44 attendees at workshops. People who contributed are listed below, as requested by JPPI, but, as suggested by JPPI, Chatham House rules have been applied in our process so as to prevent attribution of any particular view to any individual.3 Many participants expressed appreciation for being consulted and said that their knowledge and their engagement with Israel has been deepened as a result. As requested by JPPI, this submission reports both views agreed by a majority of contributors and any notable dissenting views. B: Contributors in NIF Australias consultation process Michele Alberth Dr Ted Arnold Registered practitioner Chinese Medicine; former member Zionist Youth movement in Switzerland Medical practitioner; former student Zionist activist, including Mefaked Betar Sydney and Chairman of NSW Zionist Youth Council Retired professional engineer; Sculptor; Foundation chairperson of Jews for Social Action, the social justice group of North Shore Temple Emanuel Journalist, writer and editor (radio, film, print); former Deputy of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies and one of its current representatives to the Sydney Alliance Director of the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation at Monash University Director of NIF Australia, Associate Professor of Law, La Trobe University, Adjunct, Graduate Programme in Critical Disability Studies, York University Canada Vice-president of NIF Australia; former CEO of Foodbank Victoria; immediate past president of Jewish Aid Australia Former High School teacher and Head of History at Masada College; former board member and president of SDN Childrens Services (providing early intervention in a range of areas, for vulnerable children and families) Manager, Children Family and Community Team of JewishCare (NSW) Former company director; philanthropist; supporter of inter alia JewishCare, NIF Australia, Jews for Social Justice Retired Associate Professor of Education at Macquarie

John Balint

Elizabeth Ban

Associate Professor Mark Baker Associate Professor Lee Ann Basser Ric Benjamin Susan Braham

Dr Ilan Buchman Stephan Center Associate Professor


Three participants preferred not to be listed.

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Yola Center Miriam Feldheim Professor Raimond Gaita

University; philanthropist; supporter of inter alia JewishCare, NIF Australia, Jews for Social Justice Research student at Australian Centre for Jewish Civilization, Monash University Professorial Fellow in Melbourne Law School and Faculty of Arts at the University of Melbourne; Emeritus Professor of Moral Philosophy at King's College London; Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities; author of many articles, essays and books, including Romulus My Father and A Common Humanity: Thinking about Love and Truth and Justice Executive Director of NIF Australia; former national chair of Australian Zionist Youth Council and Australasian Union of Jewish Students Teacher, journalist Solicitor University student, part-time mechanical engineer, madrich at Hashomer Hatzair, member Hashomer Hatzair Parents and Friends Committee Company director Constituent Deputy and Executive member of NSW Jewish Board of Deputies and chair of its Membership Committee Manager Relationships and Promotions, Asia Pacific Centre for Social Investment and Philanthropy, Faculty of Business, Swinburne University of Technology, formally Executive Officer of Australian Jewish Funders, Melbourne Community Foundation and other senior roles in the philanthropic sector Workshop leader, judicial educator, senior mediator; member of the WIPO (Geneva) Panel of Neutrals, the Centre de Mediation et dArbitrage de Paris and Singapore Mediation Centres international panel; member standards commission of the International Mediation Institute and co-chair of its intercultural accreditation committee; formerly Director of Community Relations at the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board, member of Federal Administrative Appeals Tribunal, member National Native Title Tribunal; past chair of Foodbank and LEADR Australia CEO of Together for Humanity, inter-faith based diversity education Director of NIF Australia; legal and governance risk specialist in financial services sector; former chairperson of Australasian Union of Jewish Students Victoria; committee member and now co-chair of Limmud Oz Melbourne; secretary of Shira Chadasha synagogue Technology professional

Liam Getreu

Ori Golan David Gordon Simon Green

Amir Harel Kati Haworth Helen Imber

Joanna Kalowski

Rabbi Zalman Kastel Mandi Katz

Harry Kestin

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Herschel Landes Ilona Lee AM

Former company director; involved in Jewish communal organisation Director of NIF Australia; Deputy of NSW Jewish Board of Deputies and member of its Social Justice Committee; former president of the Shalom Institute Company Executive, Founder Matana Foundation for Young People, Director of NIF Australia; Director Rotary Club of Sydney President of NIF Australia; barrister and mediator; immediate past president of NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, member Committee of Management of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry Lecturer, Business School, Griffith University Medical practitioner Supporter of inter alia Yiddish Australia, Kadimah, Bund, Sholem Aleichem College Retired Former lecturer and tutor in social sciences and community development at TAFE and Victoria University Professor in Department of Hebrew, Biblical and Jewish Studies, University of Sydney; Trustee and Academic Chair Mandelbaum House; member Education Sub-Committee of NSW Jewish Board of Deputies; Hon Secretary, Fund for Jewish Higher Education; member Conference Committees and Editorial Board, Australian Association for Jewish Studies; editor of the Australian Jewish Historical Society Journal Acting Judge of Appeal, Supreme Court of New South Wales; Visiting Professorial Fellow, University of New South Wales. Formerly Judge of the Federal Court of Australia; Dean, Faculty of Law, University of New South Wales; Chair, Co-ordinating Committee of Jewish Day Schools Artist; formerly Chair of Women's Division, Jewish Communal Appeal CEO of Jewish Aid Australia; formerly Hillel Director in New South Wales Advisory Board NIF, Chair Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation Monash University, Australian Press Council Member, Formerly President Jewish Care Victoria Psychiatrist; Life Governor JewishCare (Victoria); Chairman Jewish Mutual Loan Fund; member Mental Health Review Board (Victoria) Partner in leading global law firm

Karen Loblay

Robin Margo S.C.

Paul Norton Dr Sam Perla Dr Doodie Ringelblum William David Rooseboom Les Rosenblatt Professor Suzanne Dorothy Rutland OAM

The Hon Ronald Sackville AO QC

Pamela Sackville Gary Samowitz Robyne Schwarz AM

John Serry

Oscar Shub

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David Singer

Australian Lawyer, Foundation Member of the International Analyst Network; Convenor of Jordan is Palestine International; has written extensively on the Jewish-Arab conflict and been published online and distributed through news services in many countries Teacher, animated film writer, producer, director; Constituent Deputy for the Great Synagogue and Honorary Returning Officer of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies; former president of Womanpower, an Australian Jewish Women's organisation Medical oncologist Professor, Faculty of Education, Monash University Director, PhD. Director, Rosh White & Associates, Social Science Consultants. Retired academic with the special interest in the media and social policy. Deputy and Executive member of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, member Sydney Inner West Chavura, director Filling the Gap (provides dental services for indigenous Australians) Associate Professor of Journalism at La Trobe University. Editor in chief of @upstartmagazine. Documentary maker. Computer software engineer; member of a modern orthodox synagogue and former member of its board; member and former executive member of the Australian Jewish Democratic Society. Professor, social researcher, author Senior Manager, marketing modelling

Debbie Sleigh

Dr Raymond Snyder Professor Ilana Snyder Peter B. White

Uri Windt

Lawrie Zion Harold Zwier

Each requested name privacy

C: What constitutes the participants vision, as Australian Jews, of a "Jewish and democratic state? Although this question was divided for analytic purposes into three sub-questions, and is similarly divided for reporting in this submission, contributions tended in fact to range across all of them, and back and forth between them, treating them as related, interdependent aspects of the overarching, complex question.4 The reporting that follows has tried to capture that.

Two contributions were from Israel-engaged non-Jews, one of whom would qualify under the Law of Return.

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What are the main characteristics that should define Israel as Jewish? With three exceptions,5 all participants who expressed opinions on this aspect accepted that: (a) for historical and political reasons, Israel came into existence and was recognised internationally as a nation state in which the Jewish people are entitled to exercise self-determination, a corresponding right of self-determination for those Arab people who now identify as Palestinians having been similarly recognised internationally, and also now by successive Israeli governments, as part of a twostate solution; (b) the Jewish people comprises in this context not a body of co-religionists but an ethno-cultural entity comprising the whole of the Jewish people throughout the world, including followers of all the different streams of Judaism, Orthodox or not, and also non-observant or secular Jews who identify with the history, heritage and culture of the Jewish people - what it means to be Jewish thus varies from person to person and from one community to another within the totality of the Jewish people. It was also generally accepted that, if and to the extent that that characterisation of Israel as a Jewish state departs from an idealised model of a liberal, Western secular democracy that treats all its citizens exactly the same, the departure is justified on an exception basis, as is self-determination for the Palestinian people in a Palestinian state.6 There was also general agreement that Israel as the nation state for the Jewish people should: (c) be a haven for all Jews from antisemitism or persecution, now or in the future, and retain the Law of Return (but possibly subject to review of the definitional and other aspects of the law); (d) have Hebrew as its primary national language (but with Arabic retaining its present status as Israels other national language); (e) have its weekly rest day and main national holidays defined by the Jewish calendar (but showing respect for the main holidays of other faiths or ethnic groups wherever practicably possible, e.g. in employment law and in other ways); (f) have Jewish national symbols (menorah, flag, anthem) (but subject to review and possible amendment or supplementation to enable greater identification with the state by non-Jewish citizens);

One participant felt that the Law of Return has outlived its usefulness, that immigration should be based on democratic principles, not ethnicity, and that artificially propping up the Jewishness of the state is against democratic principles. Another objected to being described by reference to Israel as a Diaspora Jew, instead of as an Australian Jew. This participant also rejected the possibility of Israel being both a Jewish and a democratic state but would have had no difficulty with the Balfour Declarations favouring a homeland for the Jews in Mandatory Palestine, provided its conditions about treatment of the other inhabitants had been met. A third participant thought a Jewish state inconsistent with a democratic state, because non-Jewish Israelis would not enjoy completely equal rights. The majority further agreed that full justification of Israel as a Jewish state requires implementation of a two-state solution and the end of Israeli military administration of the West Bank. One participant would have dissented from a two-state solution as applied to the former British Mandate territory between the Jordan and the sea, on the basis that Jordan ought be recognised as the Palestinian state.

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(g) recognise and foster the heritage and culture of the Jewish people (but also with respect for and sensitivity to the heritage and culture of non-Jewish Israelis). All participants who expressed a view on this aspect also agreed that, although Judaism is historically an essential part of Jewish culture and heritage, the wide, pluralistic and nonreligious definition of the Jewish people in this context should preclude the Jewish state from preferring - legally, administratively or financially - any particular stream of Judaism or legislating or otherwise supporting any form of religious coercion. Jews should also be free to observe, or not observe, Shabbat or other halachah as they wish. The monopoly of the Orthodox rabbinate over Jewish marriage, divorce and other life events was seen as inconsistent with Israel being a state for all the Jewish people and also as undemocratic. There should be civil options in such matters for all citizens and all streams of Judaism and other religions should be treated equally. 7 Two secondary but supporting considerations for ending the state-sanctioned monopoly of the Orthodox rabbinate were also raised: (h) Any coercion has a tendency to make religious observance less attractive and meaningful. Some participants observed that there is no state support for observance of Yom Kippur in Israel but Yom Kippur is almost universally observed, whereas the state support there is for Shabbat (e.g. limited public transport) and Pesach (prohibition of public display of chametz) does not appear to encourage observance.8 (i) Getting Israeli Jews of different forms of observance, or none, to be more tolerant and inclusive towards each other will hopefully also make them more understanding, tolerant and inclusive towards non-Jewish Israelis. It was assumed by participants that Jews would remain a majority in the state for the foreseeable future. But there was no agreement on what steps in addition to retention of the Law of Return, if any at all, might be justified to preserve that majority.9 Although there was strong majority agreement that, given history to date, Israel needs to be a Jewish nation state if the Jewish people are to be able to exercise self-determination, it was recognised that Israel is still developing constitutionally and many participants were open to the possibility that in the more distant future the need for, or the degree of, exceptionalism in that regard may reduce. If and when there is a Palestinian state, and security and a lasting peace have been achieved, cooperation and trust will hopefully grow,

If the state provides financial or other official support for religious entities, such support should be allocated on a fair basis to all streams of Jewish belief, as well as to recognised entities representing Israels other faith traditions. One participant suggested adoption, and extension to other recognised religious communities, of Neemanei Torah vAvodahs model of for government to support religion based on demand and oversight by local communities and to the Religion and State model proposed by the Israel Religious Action Centre. Some participants felt similarly about the Jewishness of Israel, viz. that it is healthiest and most meaningful as a natural expression of the culture of the majority, rather than as something imposed or enforced by the state. There was general agreement however that it was undemocratic to encourage transfer or emigration of non-Jewish citizens. One participant suggested that Israel define Jewish State as Ben Gurion did to the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine on 7 July 1947, viz. in summary as a state where Jews are in the majority but otherwise all citizens have the same status. Another felt that Israels Jewishness should be conditional on there being a Jewish majority and end naturally if that ceased to be the case. A third participant saw no intrinsic reason why a Jewish state could not allow non-Jews to enjoy fully the rights of democratic citizenship, including the right to become prime minister and (perhaps) president, provided there is a constitutional bar to prevent a non-Jewish majority in the Knesset undermining the (pluralistic) Jewish character of the state. One participant suggested that Israel should adopt the formal title of The Democratic Jewish State of Israel or The Democratic Jewish Republic of Israel.

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the emphasis on nation states may reduce, and Israelis may choose to develop new regional or federational or other creative political ways of cooperating with their neighbours, with whom they are already inextricably connected in many ways for geographic, environmental and other reasons. This long term possibility was also seen as a reason of self-interest why Israel should exercise restraint and sensitivity in relation to the elements that characterise it as a Jewish state, and emphasise wherever possible pluralistic and democratic elements that strengthen a shared identity for all its citizens. What are the main characteristics that should define Israel as democratic? In the opinion of all participants who expressed a view on this aspect, the exceptional justification for Israels character as a Jewish state, and for departure from the ideal model of a neutral, secular democratic state, carries with it a corresponding high obligation on the Jewish democratic state to protect minorities from discrimination and disadvantage because of decisions by the majority and to do everything it practically can to demonstrate in concrete ways to non-Jewish citizens not only that they have equal individual rights but that their respective religions, culture and heritage are also recognised and respected by the state. That obligation was regarded as reinforced, if any reinforcement were required, by the condition of the partition resolution that each of the two states adopt a democratic constitution and by the strong assurances expressly given to Arab and other non-Jewish citizens of Israel in the Declaration of the Establishment of the State. Most participants felt therefore that it was not sufficient to define the elements of Israeli democracy as separation of legislative, executive and judicial powers, the rule of law, absence of established religion or religious qualification for public office, and allowing expression of the will of the majority through free and egalitarian elections.10 The general view was that a further essential characteristic of Israel as a Jewish democratic state (the omission of and was suggested by a participant and is deliberate) should be the obligation of the state to guarantee not only full equality of individual human and civil rights but also, to the fullest extent practically possible, respect for the religions, culture and heritage of non-Jewish Israelis. All participants would thus seem to agree strongly with Prof Ruth Gavisons opinion that: Israel should strive to thicken the shared civic identity of all its citizens and to strengthen the feeling of all citizens that it cares to promote the welfare of all. At the same time, it should allow the distinct groups within it to develop their different identities. Both attitudes are compatible with Israels remaining the nation -state of the Jewish people, so long as it has a Jewish majority and protects the human rights of all.11


Some participants raised the need to reform Israels electoral system to reduce dependence on coalitions giving disproportionate power to minority parties and to increase the ability of governments to act effectively.


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Participants generally agreed therefore that the Jewish democratic state can, for example, still give some support to separate Orthodox or Arab schools, if that is the wish of those who attend them, and can also support education about Jewish heritage and culture in schools generally, provided it shows respect also for the different heritages and culture of nonJewish citizens. But participants who expressed views on this felt also that Israel is already divided into too many silos (Orthodox, Haredim, Misrachim, Ashkenazim, Russians et al) and that a Jewish democratic state needs actively to promote dialogue and mixing across all segments of society in order to strengthen (thicken) shared civic identity. Thus, for example, religious schools should be required to include in their syllabuses the core education necessary for their students to function as citizens of a modern democratic state, Arabic and Hebrew language study should be compulsory in all schools, and there should be some form of national service, military or civilian, for all segments of society. Most participants observed also that it is not enough to legislate for equality for all citizens if court decisions about such legislation are not promptly and strictly complied with or administrative or bureaucratic actions and decisions (e.g. discretionary budget allocations, administration of land, housing, health and education) continue to discriminate against nonJewish citizens. They regarded it as essential for Israels well-being as a democratic state that it make faster progress to eliminate to the fullest extent possible the structural discrimination against Palestinian Israelis that has been acknowledged at least since the Or Commission by successive Israeli governments. What rules should govern Israels balancing of its wish clearly to express its Jewishness and its desire to be a state that grants equal rights to all its citizens? For reasons already mentioned above, participants generally agreed that where tensions or conflicts arise between Israels Jewish and democratic characteristics, law-makers, the executive, judges and administrative and other decision-makers should strive to resolve them by applying the most liberal, pluralist and universalisable Jewish values12 and the obligation to do so should be made explicit in a Basic Law. 13


For example, teachings about social justice, to treat others as one would want to be treated and to treat well even strangers in our midst. Some participants felt Israel needs to complete a constitution that safeguards the rights of all citizens and provides guidelines for resolving conflicts between Jewishness and democratic when they arise. One participant suggested that Israel adopt an entrenched policy objective to work towards an inclusive Israeli state where: the rights and obligations of all Israeli citizens are acknowledged; all Israeli citizens have an incentive to contribute to the development of Israel; all Israeli citizens experience benefits from the development of Israel; and legislate that: all proposed legislation, regulations and procedures must comply with the above policy objectives; the courts can be asked to require the government to review the operation of any existing legislation, regulations and procedures and to bring them into line with the above policy objectives; the courts can excuse non-application of these policy objectives in specific instances in light of security or public safety or related considerations.


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D: Some other specific proposals or recommendations re Israel as a Jewish democratic state Many participants considered in relation to various specific proposals whether the proposal would strengthen Israels democracy and, if so, whether in their opinion it would weaken in any way Israels Jewish character. The following proposals or recommendations were endorsed by all participants who expressed a view on them as likely to strengthen democracy without weakening, and more likely strengthening, Israel as a Jewish state: (a) That the independence of the Supreme Court and its separation from the legislature and the executive be strengthened by further entrenched legislation that prevents political interference in the selection of judges. (b) That state preferencing of, and special relations with, the Orthodox rabbinate cease and all citizens of Israel be free to have recourse to religious services of choice or civil services for marriage and other life events. (c) That state preferencing of, and special relations with, the Jewish Agency and the Jewish National Fund cease and they become non-profit civil society organisations wholly independent of government, like other Israeli non-profits.14 (d) That Israels Basic Law: On Human Dignity and Liberty be further amended to guarantee full freedom of conscience, worship, education and culture and expressly to provide that the rights and protections provided by it, and by other laws conferring rights or protections on Israeli citizens, must be applied to every Israeli citizen without distinction of race, ethnic background, religious affiliation or absence of religious affiliation, gender or sexual preference. 15 The following proposals or recommendations were similarly endorsed by the percentage set against them respectively of all participants who expressed a view on them: (a) 96% - That the Supreme Courts power of review be entrenched or further entrenched in a Basic Law. (b) 68% - That all migrants, under the Law of Return or otherwise, be required to demonstrate basic commitment to and knowledge about Israel and some competency in Hebrew before being allowed to obtain citizenship and participate in Israeli politics.16


Participants expressing views on this all recognised the enormous contribution of the JAFI and JNF to the establishment of the state and the importance of their work since. But they though it inequitable and undemocratic for these Zionist organisations to continue to be preferenced as they are by the state, especially in land and planning matters. As wholly independent NGOs, each organisation would remain free to pursue its particularist objectives. Reflecting equivalent language in the Declaration of Establishment of the State. Some participants suggested that that part of the definition of who qualifies under the Law of Return that is based on the Nuremberg Laws potentially includes people who have no meaningful connection with the Jewish people or Israel and should be amended to be more in line with the pluralistic definition of the Jewish people referred to above. Another participant felt there should be a residence requirement as well before migrants under the Law of Return can obtain citizenship. Some participants also pointed to the need for Israeli immigration law to provide a reasonable and predictable pathway to citizenship for non-Jews aspiring to Israeli citizenship and to recognise the right of family unification for Israeli Palestinian citizens married to Palestinians from the West Bank.

15 16

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(c) 88% - That a single Israeli citizenship be recognised, instead of ethnic designations on identity cards. 17 (d) 79% - That a verse be added to Hatikvah that does not refer to anything specifically Jewish and can be identified with by all Israelis, Jewish and non-Jewish. (e) 93% - That there be stricter and more effective enforcement of the status of Arabic as Israels second official language, e.g. by more strictly ensuring that to the fullest extent practically possible all national, local government and other public signs, notices, and public address system announcements (e.g. at major transport hubs, national museums etc) are in Arabic18 as well as Hebrew and that Arabic names are not replaced or otherwise Judaised. (f) 87% - That the study of both Hebrew and Arabic be made compulsory in all schools and that that requirement be effectively implemented so that all Israeli students achieve basic competency in both languages. (g) 60% - That Israel introduce legislation making it unlawful for a person to do an act, otherwise than in private, if the act is reasonably likely in all the circumstances to denigrate, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people and the act is done because of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of the other person or of some or all people in the group (but subject to exemptions to protect anything done reasonably and in good faith for any genuine academic, artistic or scientific purpose or any other genuine purpose in the public interest; or in fairly and accurately reporting or commenting on any event or matter of public interest).19 E: Should the special relationship between Israel and world Jewry be officially expressed and, if so, how?

Participants who expressed views on this question agreed that there is a special, strong relationship between Israel and Jews in the rest of the world and they hoped that would always be the case. They felt their very participation in this consultation process manifested their own attachment to Israel and concern for its long term well-being. A few of those participants thought that Israel might consider some form of representation of world Jewry in the Knesset, as occurs in some other countries that have a connection with a Diaspora, but by representatives able to vote in Israel. But most of them opposed creating any more formal framework or relationship by legislation. Reasons given for that included:



Some participants suggested that ethnic categories be combined with Israeli citizenship, e.g. that citizens be described as Jewish Israeli, Palestinian Israeli etc. or that ethnicity be recorded separately from citizenship in the electoral roll. One participant had observed at a museum in Israel that guided tours were available in Hebrew and many other languages, but not in Arabic. We understand that Assembly 200, an initiative of the Israel Democracy Institute, has recently made a similar recommendation. Similar existing Australian legislation is currently being strongly defended by the ECAJ, the federal roof body of Australian Jewish community, and other faith and ethnic groups. Opponents of the Australian legislation say it curbs freedom of speech; but defenders say it does not curb bona fide free discussion of any subject, only vilification on grounds of race, which is as harmful to social inclusion and society generally as it is the persons or groups who are vilified.

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(a) blurring of the distinction between Israelis and Jews;20 (b) world Jewry potentially being wrongly perceived as responsible for policy decisions by Israeli governments; (c) a statutory special relationship with non-citizens being inconsistent with Israel being a truly democratic and independent state. Some participants also referred to the need to review and update the structure of the Jewish Agency to make its operations more transparent and accountable. All participants greatly valued however the opportunity to contribute their views through the JPPI process and would welcome such opportunities in future. Most also believed that, although Israelis alone must make decisions about Israel, Israel should welcome and encourage expressions of opinion and advice, including criticism, from Jews elsewhere in the world, who often have very different knowledge, experience and perspectives that Israel would do well, in its own interest, to take into consideration.21


A participant who works in Asia reported encountering many otherwise educated people who dont know the difference between Jews and Israelis. One participant thought questions about democracy and Jewishness were matters for conversation within Israel, not with the Diaspora. But most participants regarded the convention in some circles that Diaspora Jews should refrain from criticising Israel as wrong in principle and ultimately harmful to Israel as a Jewish democratic state. One participant observed that if Jerusalem had sought and heeded the views of Jewish communities in Alexandria or Spain before challenging the might of the Roman Empire, the Temple might not have been destroyed in 70 CE.