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Hiddush CEO Rabbi Uri Regev & Chairman Stanley P. Gold

A message from Hiddush

August 16, 2018
5 Elul 5778

Dear Friends,

We could not agree more with what Ronald Lauder, President of the World Jewish Congress, wrote just a few days ago in a New York Times op-ed. Under the title of "Israel, this is not who we are" Lauder states: "Orthodoxy should be respected, but we cannot allow the politics of a radical minority to alienate millions of Jews worldwide."

The specifics Lauder refers to are very familiar to Hiddush's readers: the withdrawal from the Kotel agreement, the refusal to grant equal rights to same-sex couples, the illegal detention of Rabbi Haiyun, the disruption of secular life by Minister Deri's Shabbat policies, as well as the Nation-State Law that "damages the sense of equality and belonging" of Israel's non-Jewish citizens.

It should be stressed, although Lauder may not be aware, that Israel's government policies on Jewish affairs (often dictated by the extremist ultra-Orthodox political parties) not only alienate the majority of world Jewry but also run contrary to the clear will of the overwhelming majority of Israeli Jews. Similar sentiments to Lauder's, seeing the harsh consequences of an unholy alliance of religion and politics in the Jewish state, were already foreseen by Theodor Herzl, the founding father of modern Zionism, and Chaim Weizmann - Israel's first President.

Weizmann wrote: "Whereas the state will treat the true religious feelings of the community with the highest respect, it cannot turn the clock back to making religion the cardinal principle in the conduct of the state… it shall not control the ministries of state…. There will be a great struggle… "

Herzl wrote: "We shall keep our priests within the confines of their temples in the same way as we shall keep our professional army within the confines of their barracks. Army and priesthood shall receive honors high as their valuable functions deserve. But they must not interfere in the administration of the State which confers distinction upon them, else they will conjure up difficulties without and within."

On the right, you will be able to the most recent expression of Israelis' strong rejection of the ruling politicians' artificial insistence that the notion of a Jewish state is incompatible with establishing constitutional status for the core democratic principle of equality. Indeed, most Israelis support the notion of a "Jewish state" and see no problem with enshrining this in a constitutional bill. At the same time, they also overwhelmingly support granting constitutional status to the promise of Israel's Declaration of Independence for social and political equality for all Israelis and for freedom of religion and conscience... two specific principles that Israel's political powers have refused to include in a Basic Law.

Hiddush will continue putting a mirror before Israel's ruling parties, challenging them on their betrayal of Israel's founding principles, as well as of their own constituencies and the overwhelming majority of both Israelis and world Jewry. This and other educational and advocacy measures that Hiddush is pursuing on its own and in concert with like-minded leaders and organizations in Israel and in the Diaspora will be the focus of our agenda in the coming months.

Sincerely,

Stanley P. Gold,
Hiddush Chair

Rabbi Uri Regev,
Hiddush President



 

84% want to enshrine the principle of
equality into a Constitutional Law

Contrary to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s refusal – 84% of the public wants to anchor the principle of equality into a Constitutional Law. Also: parties that herald giving the Declaration of Independence constitutional force would receive additional public support.

There is no contradiction between a ‘Jewish State’ and equality. The Coalition misleads the public and prevents constitutional protection for this principle, as well as for religious freedom.

Following recent pronouncements by PM Netanyahu and senior ministers and MK in the Government Coalition, stating that the principle of civil equality is safeguarded in Israel and therefore needs not be included in the Nation-State Law or other Basic Law. Hiddush – For Religious Freedom and Equality surveyed the views of the adult Jewish Israeli population.

The findings of the survey are unequivocal:

The public, as opposed to the Government, supports amending the law and granting constitutional protection to the principles of equality and religious freedom promised in Israel’s Declaration of Independence. 84% responded in the affirmative to the question: “The Declaration of Independence promises that in the Jewish State ‘full social and political equality, regardless of religion, race, or gender’ as well as ‘freedom of religion and conscience’ will be ensured. Do you support or oppose the explicit anchoring of these principles in Israeli law and their receiving constitutional protection in a Basic Law?” Among the 84% are majority of the Zionist Orthodox and traditional Jewish Israelis, as well as the majority of those who voted for the non-Haredi Coalition parties.



click HERE for full size


Moreover, following the heightened public and political discourse regarding the question of whether the principles of the Declaration of Independence should be enshrined in a Basic Law, the survey showed that a party, which would turn this move into a central feature of its election campaign would receive increased support from the public: 36% that this would increase the likelihood that they would vote for such a party, and only 15% responded that it would decreased the likelihood.

Netanyahu and his colleagues are misleading the public, stating that the principle of equality already receives constitutional protection in Israel, including in the ‘Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty’. Those who oppose enshrining the principle explicitly in a Basic Law are betraying not only the Declaration of Independence, but also their own voters – the majority of who support the inclusion of the principles of equality and religious freedom in a Basic Law. The only group, the majority of whom oppose it, is the ultra-Orthodox sector, and it is sad to see that once more, the government kowtows to the ultra-Orthodox political parties’ dictates. They opposed including equality when the ‘Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty’ was enacted in 1992, and they have maintained their ultimatum ever since. The position of Netanyahu and his colleagues is hypocritical and illogical – if they genuinely believe that this principle is already protected, why oppose entrenching it explicitly in a Basic Law? If they oppose explicitly legislating it constitutionally – undoubtedly, this emerges from their rejection of the principle of equality!


Additional Survey Details:

The survey was conducted via telephone by the Smith Institute from August 7th – 9th, 2018, among a sample of 500 participants representing the adult Jewish population of Israel. The margin of error is ±4.5%.

In response to the question: “The Declaration of Independence promises that in the Jewish State ‘full social and political equality, regardless of religion, race, or gender’ as well as ‘freedom of religion and conscience’ will be ensured. Do you support or oppose the explicit anchoring of these principles in Israeli law and their receiving constitutional protection in a Basic Law?” 84% responded in the affirmative (43% very much support this, and 41% support, 8% oppose, and 8% strongly oppose). This is among the 90% of respondents who expressed an opinion.

Analyzing the support data based on the respondents’ self-identified levels of religiosity, it clearly emerges that support is very high not only among the secular, but also among Zionist Orthodox (71%) and traditional Jewish Israelis. (Traditional – close to religion: 84%, Traditional – not so religious: 87%, and Secular: 93%). Significant support was measured even in the ultra-Orthodox sector (41%).

There is little variation in support based on level of education: 87% of high school graduates, 80% of those with a post-high school education, 84% of those with higher education expressed their support.

Breaking down the level of support according to Coalition parties voted for in the 2015 elections, shows an overwhelming support of over 87% among voters for the non-Haredi Coalition parties. This includes 87% of Likud voters, 90% of Kulanu voters, 87% of Jewish Home voters, and 88% of Yisrael Beiteinu voters. Even among voters for the ultra-Orthodox parties, 37% support was measured.



click HERE for full size


The survey also asked: “If a party were to declare that legislating the Declaration of Independence as a Basic Law is a central pillar of its election campaign, would that increase or decrease the likelihood that you would vote for such a party?” Among those who expressed an opinion, 36% responded that it would raise the likelihood of their voting for such a party, 15% responded that it would lower the likelihood, and 49% said that it would not impact their votes.

The survey reaffirms the statement made by MK Tzippi Livni (head of the Opposition in the Knesset) that the Zionist Union party will launch such an initiative in the coming elections. It indicates that she correctly read the will of the Zionist Union voters. 67% of these voters responded that this would raise the likelihood that they would vote for such a party, compared to 3% who responded that it would lower the likelihood.



click HERE for full size


 
 

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Hiddush - Freedom of Religion for Israel, Inc.
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