We are witnessing unprecedented developments in Israel. Today, hundreds of thousands of Israelis have gone on strike, after weeks of protests in Israel (and across the globe) in support of democracy. Scores of Israeli Nobel laureates, lawyers, business leaders, current and former officials, and others have raised their voices to express grave concern regarding the impact of the proposed radical judicial changes on Israel’s democracy. Israeli President Isaac Herzog gave an impassioned speech last night pleading with Israeli political leaders to accept a set of five principles surrounding judicial reform. He urged the coalition and the opposition to hold negotiations on the proposed legislation to reach a broad consensus in order to prevent political and societal breakdown. President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Tony Blinken have cautioned against advanced reforms without such a consensus, and many American Jewish institutions, lay leaders, and professionals have also expressed heartfelt concerns.  

Israel Policy Forum has analyzed the impact of the relationship between Israeli democracy and the proposed judicial makeover in countless briefings and consultations with American Jewish leaders, next-generation activists, members of Congress, and the administration, as well as through our columnsop-eds, and podcasts.

This week, Israel Policy Forum’s leadership engaged with leaders in the region, and joined with other leading institutions in the American Jewish community for a special webinar to hear from author Yossi Klein Halevi on the letter he recently co-authored alongside Matti Friedman and Danny Gordis calling on North American Jews to make their voices heard on the proposed judicial overhaul.

We believe it is essential not only to decry what we oppose, but to emphasize what we support:

Israel Policy Forum steadfastly supports our vision statement: a secure, Jewish, and democratic Israel.

These three elements—secure, Jewish, and democratic—are the bedrock of support for Israel in the United States and amongst American Jews. All three are being placed into jeopardy by proposals put forward by the Israeli government.

We support Israel’s security.

We stand with the people of Israel as they face threats to their security amidst a deeply concerning rise in terror attacks. It is because of our support for Israel’s security that we unreservedly oppose the Israeli government’s decision on Sunday night to retroactively legalize nine illegal outposts across the West Bank, purportedly in response to the recent attacks.

By pursuing a policy of de facto annexation in the West Bank, expanding settlements, changing how civil matters in the West Bank are administered, and legalizing illegal outposts, the Israeli government’s policy today is aimed at undermining the viability of a future two-state outcome to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—which harms Israel’s security, regional relations, and democracy.

We support Israel as the state of the Jewish people.

History demonstrates the necessity of a Jewish state, and that Jewish freedom and safety are advanced by Jewish sovereignty. By advancing a narrow state-sanctioned conception of Jewish identity, Israel’s government jeopardizes the essential bonds between Israel and the Jewish people and weakens the notion of what it means for Israel to be a Jewish state.

We support Israel’s democracy.

The democratic values enshrined in Israel’s Declaration of Independence have long served as the core strength of the U.S.-Israel alliance. Pursuing judicial reforms that eliminate checks and balances and remove essential protections for individual rights will erode Israel’s democracy and our shared values.

The Israeli government’s proposals have created the perfect storm that simultaneously threatens Israel’s security, democracy, and Jewish character. This is the most consequential moment impacting Israel’s relationship with the United States—and Israel’s ties with American Jews‚ in a generation.

Just as some are denouncing these developments, others in the United States are beginning to re-evaluate their connection and commitment to Israel. This would be a tragic mistake.

As American Jews, we are essential participants in this moment in Jewish history. To respond to concerning developments in Israel by disengaging is to shed our responsibility at this consequential moment in modern Jewish history and to turn away from the millions of Israelis who share our values.

As Americans who support a strong U.S.-Israel relationship based on shared interests and shared values and who recognize the imperative of pursuing a viable two-state outcome to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we have a responsibility to ensure U.S. policymakers are vigilant and not complacent in the face of far-right measures—like yesterday’s Israeli government decision on illegal outposts—that make that goal ever more distant and threaten Israel’s secure, Jewish, and democratic future.

In this difficult moment, we remain steadfastly committed to our organization’s values of forthrightness and partnership.

Just as we will continue to offer clarity as to the magnitude of the challenges to Israel’s secure, Jewish, and democratic future, we will redouble our efforts to partner with, and serve as a resource for, community leaders and policymakers grappling with how to respond to the challenging weeks and months that lie ahead.

Thank you for being a partner to our vital work—for your participation, your voice, your encouragement, and your support.