In Israel, 30 Federation leaders share concern over judicial reform

During special 24-hour fly-in, North American Jewish leaders urge for immediate compromise, say continuing to move the bills forward as currently formulated is causing harm that will not be easily repaired. 

Thirty Federation leaders representing communities across the United States and Canada took part in an extraordinary, 24-hour visit to Israel to express their concerns with Israeli leaders on the proposed judicial reforms and to convey the implications these changes will have on the North American Jewish community. The meetings concluded Wednesday evening, Israel time.

In a joint statement the leaders released, they said, “While each of the parties has, to one extent or another, committed itself to seeking compromise, no process other than President Herzog’s efforts are underway at the intensity required to achieve success.  It is our view that the time for compromise is now.  Continuing to move the bills forward as currently formulated is causing harm that will not be easily repaired.  

They continued, "We did not advocate for a specific plan, but we did note that the essence of democracy is both majority rule and protection of minority rights. This balance is preserved through establishing checks and balances between legislative authority and an independent judiciary.  We urged that a clearly articulated system of checks and balances be in the final plan.

We appreciate the efforts of President Isaac Herzog to carefully develop compromise proposals with leading experts of widely differing views.  His work should form the basis of a final agreement.  We urge all sides to immediately engage with him on this basis.”  

During the fly-in, members of the delegation met with President Isaac Herzog, Minister Nir Barkat, opposition leader Yair Lapid, MK Benny Gantz, MK Simcha Rothman, MK Danny Danon and other members of the Knesset from the coalition and opposition, as well as senior business leaders who oppose the reforms. 

“The fact that thirty leaders representing different communities across the Federation system dropped everything on such short notice to fly to Israel for 24 hours is a testament not only to the dedication of our leaders, but to their deep-love for the Jewish Homeland,” said Jewish Federations of North America Board Chair Julie Platt.  “We find ourselves at a critical time that demands of our leaders to raise their concerns directly with Israel’s senior officials and make our position clear. I am grateful to the members of the delegation for their commitment and leadership during such a pivotal moment.”

“First and foremost, we are here in Israel to show our unconditional and eternal support for the Jewish state, and to emphasize how important the preservation of Israel's democratic institutions are to the North American Jewish community,” said President & CEO of Jewish Federations of North America Eric Fingerhut. “We believe in the importance of holding open dialogue with those who hold positions that we agree and disagree with and in conveying the far-reaching consequences that a dramatic change to the Israeli system of governance will have on the North American Jewish community and in broader society.” 

Last month, Jewish Federations of North America sent a letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu and Opposition Leader Yair Lapid expressing their concerns over aspects of the reforms and urging the two sides to accept President Isaac Herzog’s proposal. 

To read the full text of the joint statement issued by the delegation click here.


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