Tzipi Livni ,the Israeli Minister of Justice , peace negotiator, and founder of the liberal party Hatnuah, played a strong hand in the hotly the debate that seeks to make determine how Judaism and Democracy fit into the national identity. Did she ask the UN for their opinion in the matter? No. The U.S.? No. It was her quest to create a constitutional basis to settle this question that prompted a law professor enlist the input of world Jewry.
Well that’s no single foreign audience by any measure, but the bulk of Jews living outside of Israel live in the U.S. This the secular interest within Israel are expecting this to give them an upper hand that tilts opinions towards the importance of democracy and minority rights and reconciliation. The irony seems to be that if the religious right chooses to ignore the Diaspora input, it wouldn’t give much support to their own belief in the importance of a Jewish state. Although it was no referendum, getting the input of the Diaspora was a solid move to strengthen the secular position. This identity debate has polarizing effects within Israel as well as without.
Recently, the Palestinian leadership’s explicit refusal to recognize the Jewish character of the state has been a sticking point in negotiations. Although, how can the Palestinians agree to recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, if Israelis can’t even agree on what the means? Judaism accommodative of democracy is not the same as Democracy accommodative of Judaism. Some worry that the codification of a national identity from a legal basis will be followed the development of serious inequities between the Jewish majority and others. Also, depending on the definition of the Jewish nature that is employed, different assumptions are made regarding the state’s flexibility in the conflict over land.
NYT article: “Israel Reaches Out to the Diaspora” http://nyti.ms/1fzu75D