President Isaac Herzog launched an initiative on Monday promoting change in civil discourse and the manner in which people relate to each other surrounding judicial reform discourse.
The initiative, which was launched in partnership with the Israel Association of Community Centers, was titled Machlifim Mila B'Kehilla which literally translates as "exchanging a word in the community" but which has been given the title of Time to Talk in its official English translation.
Herzog, who is usually soft-spoken, even when voicing heavy criticism, believes that it would be a lot easier for people to agree to disagree or to reach a compromise or consensus if they exercised more control over their use of language and the tone in which they speak.
The Association, which encompasses some 1,000 community centers and branches from Metulla to Eilat, is a perfect partner for such an initiative, said Herzog who is convinced it will bring about a revolutionary change in Israeli society.
Since its establishment, Israel has overcome many and varied crises with people working together, said Herzog. Unity, he continued, is the secret of Israel's resilience, but that unity is crumbling.
"We have to change direction and start talking to each other heart-to-heart," he insisted. "We must not allow disagreement to evolve into hatred."
Building dialogue amid current political rifts
In this context, he also referred to the political dispute over the judicial reform and declared that the coalition and the opposition must sit together and talk.
Haim Biton, a minister in the Education Ministry, recalled the Khamsa Bar Khamsa feud that brought about the destruction of both the First and Second Temples and said this serves as a symbol for changing what is happening today.
"We have a great responsibility to cool tempers and to bring about change in the way we relate to each other", he said."By talking we form bridges and conceive new ideas."
Representatives of the Association of Community Centers spoke in a similar vein noting that disputes are heating up out of all proportion and that everything people say is negative.
The purpose of the initiative is to restore trust and a feeling of security, they said.