Israel stands at a watershed moment in its history.
Its governing coalition cannot continue to pretend that judicial reform is a left-versus-right issue. The hundreds of thousands of protesters who have turned up for nine weeks in a row represent a broad cross-section of Israeli society. They are not, as has been described, “anarchists”.
They are turning out with their flags week after week because they love their country and despair for its future.
We hear their anguish. We feel their pain from afar. It behoves us to echo their cries.
Arguments that the changes resemble the model in many Western countries are disingenuous – most have a combination of a second house of parliament, a constitution, or bill of rights. For Israelis, the country’s Basic Laws and the courts that uphold them are their sole protectors.
Arguments that we in the Diaspora have no right to comment are equally moot.
We may not pay taxes in Israel, vote in elections or serve in the IDF, but Israel is a part of our identity and her fate has a direct impact on our community. That is why we are obliged to speak out.
We are Israel’s defenders in Australian public debate; our young adults are her defenders on campus. That is why we have a right to speak out.
In Australia last week, former Israeli PM Naftali Bennett said Israel’s “greatest threat is domestic division”.
That is why the unprecedented joint call for dialogue by the ECAJ and ZFA, and similar statements from other global Jewish roof bodies, is so important.
We pray it, and others like it, are heard. It is time for Israelis to come together and start talking.
The government must pause its legislative blitz and engage in good faith. Equally, the opposition must listen to practical proposals for moderate and positive judicial reform.
This impasse is about the kind of Israel her citizens want it to be.
With enemies on all sides and a range of challenges to meet, she cannot afford to be scarred by division.
In this sense the process is arguably almost as important as the result. Achieving a balanced reform is vital, but so is simply listening to each other.