(JNi.media) “The choice that is often presented between Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people and Israel as a binational state is not real,” said Justice Ministry Ayelet Shaked on Monday. “The real choice is between a Jewish state that preserves its democracy at all costs, and a country that will become Arab over time and would lose its democracy, too. For proof you only need to look through the windows of our villa at the regional jungle and see what remains of the democratic experiment in the Arab countries after the Arab Spring that swept them all to the brink of an abyss.”
Shaked spoke at a special conference of the Breakfast Forum on the subject of a Jewish and democratic state, at the Law Dept. of Bar Ilan University. The conference was marked by the inauguration of research institute to explore the issues of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.
The minister opened her remarks with the story from the book, “With his Own Hands,” by Israeli author Moshe Shamir, which describes “Elik who was born of the sea.”
Shaked said that the term “Jewish and democratic” is new, and did not exist when Prime Minister Ben-Gurion declared the founding the state. “But despite the fact that this formula of a ‘Jewish and democratic state’ is new… we mustn’t confuse content and container. The political content and cultural worldview that have been poured into the mold of the Basic Laws in 1992 were not created out of thin air. It was content that had been formed over the years by the leadership of the Israeli society, which saw itself, erroneously, as having been born of the sea. The same society that mostly moved between a perception that “Jewish” and “democratic” are disconnected concepts; and a perception that not only is this true in practice, but it is also appropriate for it to be this way.
“The truth is I do not accept this model which requires me to choose what I am more — Jewish or democratic …. And the truth is that I do not accept an even more fundamental concept. I do not accept the notion that these are such different traditions.” Referring to the Jewish Bible as well as the Talmudic tradition, Shaked asked, “Where have we found, thousands of years ago, the model of separation of powers? The model of majority rule? Handing decision making to people and not to heaven? The resistance woven into many books of the Bible to the very existence of a royalist regime? The opportunity to criticize in the harshest words a leader who murdered and inherited?”
“I believe that precisely when you want to bring to Israel increasingly more advanced democratization processes, we must deepen its Jewish identity. These identities most explicitly do not contradict each other. On the contrary, I believe that they reinforce each other. I believe we will be a more democratic state the more we become a Jewish state, and I believe we’ll be a more Jewish State the more democratic we will be.”