Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People
Agenda for the 21st Century
Background: A Perfect Storm
This paper proposes an updated agenda for the relationship between World Jewry and the State of Israel that fully expresses the character of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish People. The context for this agenda and the sense of urgency that propelled its formulation is the ‘perfect storm’ that erupted in June 2017 which is disrupting this historic relationship.
This agenda is based on the conceptual framework published by the Reut Group in March 2017 and was developed with the generous and visionary support of Katie and Amnon Rodan. Our hope is that it will be discussed, improved and eventually embraced by the Government of Israel and World Jewry leadership.
In June 2017, the Government of Israel decided to cancel the so-called ‘Kotel Compromise’ and to promote an amendment of the Conversion Bill so that it would not acknowledge conversions performed by most rabbis outside of Israel. Shortly thereafter, Israel’s Chief Rabbinate was exposed for maintaining a ‘blacklist’ of rabbis who are ‘not recognized’, and later the Government of Israel was slow to condemn the anti-Semitic events in Charlottesville, Virginia. Together, these events created a ‘perfect storm’, which angered many in Jewish communities in the USA and around the world and led to calls for a rethinking of their entire relationships with Israel.
These events revealed a bitter truth: not only that the Israeli Government’s relationship with World Jewry is often shaped by narrow political considerations, but also that the Israeli public is mostly indifferent to this issue.
Furthermore, these events highlighted the tension between the classical conception of Zionism and the contemporary reality of the Jewish People in the 21st Century. Israel was created to serve as the national home for the entire Jewish People, and has been, in fact, its 'central project’ for the past century. Indeed, for decades, this meant encouraging Aliyah and ensuring security, freedom and prosperity for the Jewish community in the Land of Israel. However, now, when Israel is powerful and prosperous, many Jews feel a growing distance and even alienation from it.
Against this backdrop, it is essential for Israel and World Jewry to reimagine the essence of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish People, and to translate this vision into a concrete agenda that can be acted upon.
This is an attempt to offer such an agenda.