Photo Credit: Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked's Facebook page
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked

( “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.”


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  1. I fully agree.
    Moreover without being "Jewish" first democracy is not even possible.
    Today we can sadly observe how the "liberal democratic" excitement failed all over the world.
    There is not one nation where democracy, freedom would function as it was invented in the classical meaning of these notions.
    And the reason is that our inherently self-serving, self-justifying human nature by default automatically distorts, corrupts even the best laid plans, most beautiful ideologies.
    Without adjusting our inherent nature, creating an environment where we can channel our natural tendencies towards a positive common goal we keep falling again and again.
    And it is the Jews, the descendants of Abraham, Moses and other great sages and leaders who have the method and historical experience how to create such an environment.
    We have to rebuild the Nation of Israel on its original, traditional values starting with undisputed national unity and absolute mutual responsibility and then through our own positive example we have to show others how to create true, mutually continuing societies where our inherent nature doesn't become destructive but fuels positive development instead.

  2. I do not know that democracy is the best form of government save in an egoistic world. In short, it is the best compromise of the need of a population for government to protect from foreign threat (and fellow citizens!), versus the need of protection from an overly powerful government.

    In the Jewish ideal, a world above ego, this may not be the case.

    In that ideal, we reach the level of unity as we had at Sinai, when we reached mutual love above sina (hatred) and so connected in similarity to the absolute Unity above, that His Light, His Torah came down upon us. Only in such will that Light shine back out to the nations. And what type of government will that mean?

    We will really not need police, armies, lawyers and destructive competition.

    I have no idea really what this will look like, because in that state of mutual responsibility our social psychology will be different beyond words. However, from the reflection of Torah in perceivable Nature, I would say this. Though specialization as brain, heart, lungs and liver may exist—nonetheless it would be with full-hearted, voluntary agreement by all, where all cells would be equal and very important to all others. And the purpose of those in such specializations would be the care of all others in that position.

    Is this democracy, oligarchy or monarchy? Is this free enterprise or socialism? All and neither, whatever works best from different angles—for it will be something higher, more profound and far happier. As a great cylindrical column over its orthogonal rectangular and circular cross-sections. Similarly none of us will be lost, and each will multiply the greatness—the very dimension—of the whole—become part of that whole.

    There really are no words—but it will truly be what Jewish, what all Humanity, is supposed to be—was always meant to be…

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