Speaking at the Jerusalem Post Democracy 2023 Conference, Dr. Yizhar Hess, Vice Chairman of the World Zionist Organization, said that while Jews can live well in non-Jewish democratic countries, they will not be able to live well in a Jewish state that is not democratic.
Hess said that the efforts of the current government to reform the judiciary would remove some of the fundamental checks and balances that are essential to a functioning democracy in Israel, and even those who regularly support Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policies, such as Prof. Irwin Cotler, former justice minister and attorney-general of Canada, and Prof. Alan Dershowitz, have expressed their opposition to the proposed reforms.
“I am afraid that Israel is changing its nature from a democratic country to a country that is Jewish but not democratic,” he told Maayan Hoffman, Deputy CEO - Strategy & Innovation of The Jerusalem Post. “Since we strongly believe in a Jewish and democratic state, I am worried we are losing our soul, and Zionism will not last if the democratic element is removed.”
“We want all Jews to be able to feel that they are part of the Zionist endeavor, even if they don’t make aliyah. This is the essence of Jewish peoplehood,” said Hess. “Israel is such an important component of Judaism today that you can’t live anywhere in the world today without having Israel as part of your Jewish identity. If Israel changes, and it ceases to remain the democracy it has been until now, it will harm Jewish continuity.”