What's on Our Mind 7-28-2023

This week, Jewish communities in the U.S. and across the world watched with great interest and concern over the political events playing out in Israel regarding the government’s planned judicial overhaul. 
JAC has always maintained a neutral position when it comes to the internal politics in Israel. We work to ensure there is bipartisan support in Congress for Israel with the candidates we help elect. As a democracy, Israeli change has to come from within, and not be influenced by external forces.
As a country, we struggled with our own political turmoil during Donald Trump's presidency. Those were dark days for our country. But we did emerge based on the will of the people.
That was just one moment when our democracy teetered. However, there were other instances such as the Civil War, the fight for Civil Rights, and most recently the Capitol insurrection that nearly ripped our nation’s seams apart.
Peaceful weekly demonstrations, where thousands exercise their right to free speech, are unique to countries that have grappled with citizenship discontent. During the Arab Spring, there were major uprisings and social violence, including riots. People died during the Tiananmen Square protests.
Israeli civil society is engaged like never before to ensure that their democracy continues to thrive. Political watchdog groups have even appealed to the Supreme Court to challenge the new law enacted by Netanyahu's government without fear of retribution. 
During this time we also must be vigilant to speak out against those critics who use anti-Israel rhetoric to condemn Israel. This cannot be an opportunity to delegitimatize and malign the country of Israel based on the policies of its current government.
JAC was invited this week to meet in Chicago with the Israeli Consulate General to the Midwest Yonam Cohen. We had a very honest and frank conversation, as friends do. It is important to keep the dialogue going, understanding what is at stake for both countries if our relationship falters. The U.S. and Israel have a mutually beneficial partnership that can never be discounted.
Let us continue to heed the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
We hope and pray that Israel will find its way towards a resolution that ensures the democratic vibrancy of the country – the only homeland for the Jewish people and the U.S.’s greatest friend and ally.
We must put our faith that the Israeli people will voice their objections not only in the streets, but also at the ballot box. As they now know, elections have consequences.