A long-time proponent for the drafting of a constitution, former president and former Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin says that although he believes in compromise when it is possible, “this is not the time to play around.”
In an interview with The Jerusalem Post on Sunday, Rivlin said: “People are trying to bring about compromise, but it’s not a good idea. We have to, once and for all, decide on the character of our nation.”
I will go to the next protest, former president admits
In the present crisis of national discord in which there is alienation and hostility instead of unity and harmony, Rivlin sees compromise as a weakening of democracy.
As yet, he has not participated in a demonstration for the salvation of democracy, but if the present situation persists, “I will go to the next one,” he said.
During his presidency, Rivlin launched a project to unite what he called “the four tribes” – Israeli Arabs, Haredim (ultra-Orthodox), Religious Zionists and Secular Zionists who he believed should all work together for the common good, but who should be able to practice their own traditions and customs while respecting those of others.
Now there’s a fifth tribe, he says – Diaspora Jewry, including Israelis living abroad, who in Hebrew are known as 'yordim.'
Not so long ago, ‘yordim’ was a pejorative. But Rivlin says they are important because “they are connected to Israel despite having left us, and they close the gap between Israel and Diaspora Jewry.”
During his seven-year term as president, Rivlin visited 17 countries on three continents, and wherever he went, he spoke of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. He sees no contradiction in terms, because in his view, Jewish migration to Israel is by way of repatriation to the ancient homeland.
Fearful that the proposed reforms in their present composition will impinge on democracy and civil rights, Rivlin said “I cannot live in a state which is not democratic and which does not respect civil rights.”
Rivlin is strongly opposed to any form of racial or gender discrimination or discrimination against members of the LGBTQ+ community.
While he is in principle in favor of some kind of judicial reform, he insists that it must include a Basic Law Act with clearly defined boundaries and division of authority. Without defining the boundaries between the legislative, executive and judicial branches of power, there is no democracy, Rivlin declared.
In the interim, as far as he’s concerned, Israel’s constitution is enshrined in the Declaration of Independence.