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The Israeli Election

March 23, 2015

Israel Election Follow Up

Reconstructionist Movement Statement on the Israeli Elections
March 23, 2015
The recent, hotly contested Israeli election and its high voter turnout are laudable evidence of the vigorous democracy that has characterized the State of Israel since its beginning. In a part of the world where no other country has managed to sustain a full democracy, this is a noteworthy achievement.

Several events during the election are nonetheless matters of great concern.

Prime Minister Netanyahu’s eleventh-hour cry that people should rush to the polls to counteract that “Arab voters are coming out in droves" was one such event. Twenty percent of Israel’s citizens are Arab. It is laudable that Arab citizens turned out to vote in large numbers. It is good for the future of Israel as a democracy that Arab voters will have an expanded bloc in the Knesset. Netanyahu’s words are an attack on the democratic and pluralistic values long advocated by the Reconstructionist movement. Those values are enshrined in the Israeli Declaration of Independence, which states that Israel “will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex.”

The longtime exemption from military service for ultra-Orthodox Jews was rescinded by Israel's Supreme Court. During his campaign, Netanyahu promised to reinstate it. That reinstatement would be a blow to religious pluralism and equal treatment of all citizens. It should be resisted by all possible legal means.

Netanyahu’s attacks during the campaign on non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that support civil rights, equality for all citizens, a stronger safety net, and the development of a vigorous not-for-profit sector undermine his credibility as someone committed to every citizen. We call upon him to repudiate those remarks.

Perhaps most serious was his statement on the eve of the election that if he were to be elected, there "will not be a Palestinian state." While he has attempted to backtrack since the election, his commitment and that of his allies to continually build and expand settlements in the West Bank and beyond the area that can reasonably be accommodated by “land swaps” puts the lie to his backtracking. The Reconstructionist movement has been on record for decades as supporting a two-state solution. We call upon the government of Israel to freeze its settlement building in order to preserve a two-state option.

Mr. Netanyahu’s appearance in Congress placed him into an alliance with Christian evangelicals and Republican Conservatives who are allies of Netanyahu’s ambitions for a Greater Israel. At this time, when Israel needs American bipartisan support more than ever, we urge a return to embracing the historic basis for the United States-Israel alliance.

As a new government is formed, the Reconstructionist movement calls upon its members to join together with like-minded Israelis in demanding a return to Israel’s democratic values, to a relationship with the United States that rises above partisan politics, to active pursuit of a two-state solution, and to a path forward characterized by statesmanship and a commitment to equality for all of Israel’s citizens.

Rabbi Deborah Waxman, President, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College


David Roberts, Chair, Board of Governors, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College


Rabbi Nina Mandel, President, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association


Rabbi Danielle Leshaw, Interim Executive Director, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association


Rabbi Jonathan Kligler, Chair, Israel Task Force



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