Australia, home to one of the most actively pro-Zionist communities in the Diaspora, has broken their silence regarding the judicial reforms in Israel.
"We express our serious concern at the governing coalition’s proposals to make fundamental changes to the relationship between the Knesset and the judiciary with undue haste and in the absence of broad-based public support," a joint statement by the Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA) and the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECJA), Australia’s two representative roof bodies of the Australian Jewish community, said on Monday, expressing their concerns about the proposed Israeli judicial reforms.
Other concerns than judicial reform
They also voiced their concerns on issues regarding religion and state as well as Israel Jewish Diaspora relations.
The statement begins by explaining that "the Australian Jewish community is a deeply Zionist community. Israel is at the core of our Jewish identity and a focus of our schools, youth movements, synagogues, communal institutions and, in many cases, our family connections."
"We celebrate Israel’s successes and achievements. When Israel is under attack, we share the pain and suffering of our brothers and sisters. We defend Israel against the irrational hatred that is sadly increasingly pervasive throughout the world."
"We recognize and respect that, being in the diaspora, we have different rights, but we are also deeply invested in Israel’s survival and the wellbeing of all Israelis and the Jewish people.
"We believe that Israel must forever remain a Jewish and democratic state, rooted in the vision of the prophets. Despite the incomparable challenges that Israel has faced since its inception, the Jewish homeland has admirably upheld those principles as set forth in its Declaration of Independence."
The statement, therefore, suggested that "from this position of unconditional love and connection that we express our serious concern at the governing coalition’s proposals to make fundamental changes to the relationship between the Knesset and the judiciary with undue haste and in the absence of broad-based public support."
They also voiced concerns of the "other proposals in relation to religious pluralism and the law of return that risk damaging Israel’s precious and unique relationship with Diaspora Jewry.
The two representative bodies said that they "call on the governing coalition to heed the call from Israeli President Isaac Herzog for genuine dialogue, based on his five principles for judicial reform, and to pause all of these controversial proposals so that constructive dialogue can occur and a national consensus can begin to emerge."
Probably for the first time ever, the statement was also written in Hebrew and distributed to the Israeli media, in order to create an impact in Israeli society.
This statement is one of many from representative Jewish organizations in the Diaspora, yet most Jewish communities outside of the US have been pretty quiet up until today.
The statement is a product of a ZFA Executive meeting held on 14 February. They held a broad-ranging discussion in relation to some of the initiatives of the new Israeli Government and the role of the diaspora in these issues.
About 70 people representing the affiliates from all sides of the political spectrum engaged in the discussion. According to those who participated in the discussion, what emerged during the meeting was a clear consensus to issue a statement.
Australian Jewish Association (AJA), a membership-based community organization "guided by authentic Torah values, as well as centre-right, conservative Australian values," has criticized the ZFA and the ECAJ for their statement. The AJA said in a statement on social media that the two organizations "have joined hands to publicly launch an attack on the Israeli government over its proposed reforms of Israel's judicial system."
The AJA emphasized that the "attack is extraordinary and is a gift to local anti-Israel activists and antisemites alike. It shows a jaw-dropping failure to understand political strategy and advocacy in the volatile and highly contested public space concerning Israel."
The AJA related to the statement, explaining that it comes from "unconditional love," and criticized them, stating that this is as if they said, "we love you but we're still going to humiliate and bash you publicly." The AJA concluded that many in their community "who support Israel," will "be shocked and outraged," by the ZFA and ECAJ statement.