Thursday, 15 January 2015
The New Sanhedrin; Israel and the Diaspora need each other
1. Whether we like or not the fate of the Jewish People and our own future are intertwined with Israel. Without a strong Israel no Jew can stand tall and safe anywhere. So the continued existence of Israel is as essential to the Israelis as it is to any Jew wherever he is. However equally without a strong rational Jewish voice in the Diaspora it will be difficult for Israel to keep a backing for its very existence vis-à-vis a hostile public in Europe today and may be in the Americas tomorrow. The political leaders of Israel do not seem to see it that way. To them the size of Israel's territory is everything and Jewish wealth backed by a strong army is the only way to secure their objective. The time has come for a sober and wise Jewish Voice which is detached from the Israeli internal politics to be heard to save all of us, inside and outside Israel from the existential dangers facing us, all of us.
2. But before discussing where to find such Jewish voice we need to understand the context of events inside Israel now. Netanyahu declared after his most recent meeting with President Obama that he is the Prime Minster of the Jewish People! How? Who elected him? Who empowered him? At the time he represented only 18 out of 120 Members of the Knesset ! And following the recent tension he created with the White House and few of the governments of the EU especially that of France following the tragic events in Paris he seems to interfere more and more with the delicate relationships of the Jewish Communities in the Diaspora countries with their public and authorities. Netanyahu's internal politics and those of the messianic extreme Right in Israel have become weapons in the hands of our enemies in the region and our critics in Europe.
3. My friend James Leek, a prominent member of the Jewish community in Wimbledon ventured the question " Here in our Jewish community and in public meetings at our local Synagogue criticism or dissent from some of Israel's Government's policies tend to be stifled under the mistaken banner of loyalty to the State of Israel" and he asked what is the solution. And how to voice our justified concerns without being attacked as disloyal ? It is legitimate and even obligatory owing to our situation in the world to defend Israel in every way possible. But that should not include or imply defending the government policies of Israel. Within Israel itself, and even within the Knesset itself many groups do dissent from and criticise government policies without being called disloyal. So what to do. Not being citizens of Israel participating in its taxation and defence system the Diaspora can not dictate to Israel what to do. But it can advise.
4. And may be one way to do that is to set up a recognised new forum of delegates drawn from the entire Jewish communities of the world similar to the way that the Zionist Congress was initiated. Let us call this forum The New Sanhedrin to serve as a popular accredited watch group to review the policies pursued by the three Arms of State of Israel (Knesset, Government and Supreme Court) and their impact on the Diasporas. Such group can be made up of 69 Members drawn from and elected by the three locations of Jewish populations : with Israel providing 27, the USA 27 and the other Diasporas including UK France Germany South America and the Far East etc another 15. The Bloomsbury Zionists produced the Balfour Declaration . Let Wimbledon announce the birth of The New Sanhedrin.
5. Some would say that we already have a plethora of Jewish institutions world wide what with the Jewish Agency, Aipac, Saban, J Street, the variety of Jewish funds for Israel etc etc etc. Unfortunately all these institutions are led by wealthy, super rich Jews in Europe and America linked with their counter part wealthy Israelis dominating Israel's main Parties. And with the weakening and almost demise of the JNF, TheJewish National Fund representing the whole spectrum of all levels and ideologies of the Jewish people everywhere in the past, the voices of the ordinary Jews of the Diaspora now stopped to be counted and even heard. And yet these ordinary Jews who are not represented today are the groups that are exposed to and are the first to suffer from the dangers inside and outside Israel.
6. The failure of Israeli Democracy to reform itself by changing its dysfunctional Electoral System is causing much harm to the future of Israel inside and damaging its image abroad. Three Knessets, the 16th 17th and18th, through 3 Draft Laws (TROMIT) could have rectified this situation and yet failed to debate let alone adopt the new system of Total Representation TR ( in Hebrew Yitsug Shalem YESH ) a System that fuses the First Past The Post and Proportional Representation PR. This is a system that guarantees the accountability of the MK, confers dynamic representation of all sectors of the population including the Arab minorities while at the same time ensures the stability of governments by creating bigger political parties. The function of the proposed new forum is to debate such issues and new ideas and see if they can help to make Israel more cohesive inside and united in solidarity with the Diaspora vis-à-vis a hostile world outside.
7. And of course the New Sanhedrin need to put at the top of its agenda the urgent solutions of our relations with the Arabs on its three levels, the Arab minority in Israel (over 20 per cent of Israel) the future of Gaza and the West Bank and above all our relations with 350 million Arabs surrounding us. Future Iran's Bomb and present Pakistani Bombs are not the immediate threat today even if they continue to tick. The Arabs and Muslims don't need nuclear power to threaten our existence. Hamas, Hezbollah, the violent Muslim crowds in and around the Mosque in Jerusalem are portending new massacres. And yet our wealthy Jews in and outside Israel, are more concerned by the fluctuating fortunes in the Stock Exchanges. The extreme messianic Right in Israel calling for all the Jews in the world to settle in Israel is shifting the emphasis back to the Thirties and defining our Diasporas as alien implants and not full rightful citizenships. Let us not allow the 1930s in Europe to spill by default into the 1940s. It would be too late even for our grand children.
Aharon Nathan, Wimbledon, 15th January 2015