Protesters hold Israeli flags and signs Saturday evening in Tel Aviv. (Eyal Warshavsky via Getty Images)
I received an email from a friend in which he said that he viewed with shame the failure of our leadership to speak out against the current policies of the Government of Israel and its determination to destroy the democratic Jewish State.
I was able to respond to him that our leadership and the Jewish leadership globally, as well as in Israel, was starting to speak out very loudly and express its deep concern about the crisis in Israel which is causing so much pain in the Jewish community worldwide.
Last week I quoted the U.S. ARZA leader, Rabbi Josh Weinberg, which you may recall. He said that “Being here in Israel I felt the impending doom of the judicial revolution as if the legislative process has been shot out like a cannonball and is pummelling its way through the Knesset”.
This week the Zionist Federation of Australia and the ECAJ published a statement expressing serious concern at the Israeli Government’s proposals to make fundamental changes without public support and which risk damaging Israel’s relationship with the Diaspora Jewry.
Some thought the statement not strong enough and the criticisms not sharp enough. The worry is that it doesn’t let the government know how worried we are about its “legalised corruption”. Others were relieved that at last Jewish leaders in Australia are standing up and speaking out.
Also in Melbourne, one of our Progressive Rabbis, Allison Conyer who is President of the Assembly of Rabbis and Cantors for Australia, spoke at the “Saving Israel Democracy Demonstration”. She said that what began as a small grassroots initiative by Israelis living in San Francisco has now evolved into a global movement in over 30 cities and is an outcry from the Jewish world in solidarity with our Israeli family conveying our outrage at the proposed reforms threatening our core Jewish and democratic values upon which our Jewish homeland was built.
Rabbi Conyer went on to say that surely fighting for a Jewish homeland to uphold our values is not just permissible but obligatory and according to Benny Gantz a “civil duty”.
Finally, today I read an essay by an author, Matti Freeman, who made Aliyah from Canada in his teens. He has consistently defended Israel, so it was a rare thing for him to write with such alarm about the Netanyahu Government and the spiralling political crisis. He describes how he has seen many crises in Israel come and go, but he’s never seen politics seep so alarmingly into the psyches and private lives of his friends, with so many losing sleep and seized by fear.
He quoted a career army officer friend who is religiously observant and a political centrist who said “I’ve had governments I disagreed with, but never one that was out to get me” .
Progressive Jewish communities around Australia will be gathering next week to hear about these important issues from the UIA/Progressive Appeal guest speaker Lesley Sachs. Click here for dates/times and how to make a donation.
Helen Shardey OAM
ARZA Australia President
UPJ Vice President