Latest update: February 5th, 2014
2. Valid Jewish governance is based on popular, dynamic representation. The Torah describes a system of public representation: “Leaders of thousands, leaders of hundreds, leaders of fifties and leaders of tens.” Our sources show that the system of “Sarim” (Leaders) existed throughout our history, including during the empire of David and Shlomo. These leaders ran the life of the nation from the level of a small community (“The seven good men of the city”), through the tribal level (tribal princes), to the appointment of a national administration (King, Great Sanhedrin). Therefore, the modern Jewish government must include a fair representation of the members of autonomous communities at every level of government.
3. Today’s autonomous communities don’t have to be territorially based. In today’s reality, there’s no reason to predicate autonomous communities based on geographic areas, since we no longer have tribes residing on their allotted land. In fact, representation based strictly on geographic location could cause a migration of population groups into separate ethnic, cultural, religious or ideological ghettos, which will surely not strengthen our nation. Today’s autonomous communities should be voluntary and represent faithfully all the different sectors of Israeli society. The basis for this idea, however, does exist in our Torah: there was one tribe which was not entitled to a land of its own, and yet remained autonomous in every way – the tribe of Levy. Our halachic literature discusses additional forms of communities not based on geographic location. We have no doubt that this is the best model for today’s society.
According to the above three principles, the State of Israel should adopt an enlightened federal constitution providing complete freedom to individuals, families and communities. Indeed, we may view the very establishment of autonomous communities the next phase on the path to redemption: the realization of the Jewish vision of living freely in our land, both as individuals and as a national collective.
OUT OF HARSHNESS WILL COME FORTH SWEETNESS?
The settlers in Judea and Samaria today face an unprecedented challenge. On the one hand, they live under a tangible existential threat; on the other, they are best positioned, ideologically and spiritually, to lead the nation to the next phase of redemption. If they grasp the true meaning of the Jewish and Zionist vision, they can implement a Jewish constitution immediately, without delays or compromises. And so we must begin preparations at once.
Our first step is not a declaration of political independence in the areas of Judea and Samaria; rather it is the preparation of a material and political basis for a future declaration. Should, God forbid, the moment of expulsion arrive, we must be well prepared for swift action.
You might ask, how can we set an independent government before the state declares its retreat from the territory? The answer is that we should distinguish between autonomy and full sovereignty.
As long as the government of Israel is not ceding its sovereignty over some territories in Eretz Israel, we view ourselves as loyal citizens of the state. Yet, we have the right to organize as voluntary communities. This is a crucial principle of the liberal-democratic state: freedom of association. Just as no government may dictate to us how to conduct our community of synagogue members, so it has no right to intervene in the life of other communities we may choose to establish. And just as our synagogue does not constitute a threat to the sovereign rule of the state over the lot where said synagogue stands, so does our autonomous community not invalidate the sovereignty of the State of Israel there.
But a well organized community will send the Israeli government the message that it has neither the legal and moral authority, nor the practical capacity to hand over our settlements to the hands of foreigners.
And should the government, God forbid, ignore this message – we will declare a sovereign state in every area ceded by Israel, with a federal constitution based on Jewish law: UCI – The United Communities of Israel.
This federal union will also accept communities and citizens who do not live under the danger of expulsion, from the “blocks” of settlements in Judea and Samaria, as well as from communities established “inside the green line.”
This in turn may serve as the initial foundation of a new, widespread constitutional reform in Israel, and establish a broad base of popular support for action against the deportations.
This is a great challenge and a great opportunity to come closer to the redemption of Israel in our time.Ehud Tokatly and Yori Yanover
About the Author: Ehud Tokatly and Yori Yanover have been collaborating on various artistic and journalistic projects since 1971.
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