A message from Hiddush
May 4, 2017
8 Iyyar, 5777
This week we celebrated the State of Israel's 69th Independence Day. Even with all of the difficulties and challenges - there are many reasons to celebrate and to be proud of Israel's achievements. Still, regardless of security considerations, national interests, the lack of natural resources, Israeli weather, or any practical reason, it is clear that the challenge of realizing the Israeli Declaration of Independence's promise of a Jewish and democratic state continues. The recent Hiddush survey for Yom Ha'Atzmaut (Israel's Independence Day) clearly indicates that most of the public aspires to fully realize the Declaration of Independence's promise of freedom of religion and equality for all, rejects the politicization of these fundamental issues, and trusts the Supreme Court.
As we enter the 70th year of Israel's independence, represented by the letter 'ע', which is pronounced ayin (eye) in Hebrew, may the eyes of Israeli leadership open to see the need for a change of direction, and may they open their eyes to see the struggle for freedom of religion and equality of the civic burden as vital to Israel's future, its strength, and its partnership with Diaspora Jewry!
This turning point requires, among other things, an understanding by Israel's Opposition parties that they should not try to topple the existing government by surrendering to the extortion of the ultra-Orthodox parties. The ultra-Orthodox parties aspire to a Torah State and a theocracy, demanding the heavy price of religious coercion, and the violation of civil liberties and human dignity; and the civil parties give in to them with no resistance. In order to genuinely strengthen Israeli democracy, in realizing its pluralistic and open nature, and in defending the partnership between Israel and Diaspora Jewry, world Jewish leadership has an important role to play.
Hiddush is at the forefront of the struggle for freedom of religion and equality in Israel, and we are very grateful for your moral and material support, and hope it will continue to grow. We will need all the help we can get in order to confront the growing threats to these basic values!
All the very best,
Stanley P. Gold,
Rabbi Uri Regev,
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"The Calamity of Independence"
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"Not only has the State of Israel not solved the problem of anti-semitism, but it has become the direct cause for the suffering of masses of Jews scattered in Jewish communities across the globe."
The quotes and caricature above are just samples of feature articles and editorials published in the mainstream ultra-Orthodox media this week. They relate to Israel's independence, as we celebrated Israel's 69th Independence Day this week. The 'Yated Ne'eman' newspaper, for instance, is the organ of Degel HaTorah, which is a key component of the United Torah Judaism faction in the Knesset and a key partner in the Government Coalition.
-- Click HERE for many, many more quotes --
The disparity between the pride Israel's Government Coalition takes in its Zionist backbone and its absolute dependence upon the anti-Zionist, ultra-Orthodox parties is glaring. Hiddush has often pointed to the tension and contradiction between the ultra-Orthodox parties' outlook, and the values of the State of Israel as a "Jewish and democratic" state, as well as the will of the majority of its population.
It's notable that in regards to the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Israeli Government insists strongly that we pay attention to what the Arabs say and write among themselves, rather than what they utter for public consumption. Hiddush believes that this very same yard stick should be applied to the ultra-Orthodox political parties in order to truly understand the ugly challenge Israel is facing from within.
79% of Jewish Israelis: The promise of religious freedom has not been fully realized in Israel
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79% of the Israeli Jewish public maintains that Declaration of Independence's promise of freedom of religion and conscience has not yet been fully realized in Israel. 76% support the full realization of this promise.
These are the key findings of a public opinion survey conducted for Hiddush – Freedom of Religion for Israel by the Smith Polling Institute in advance of Israel's 69th Independence Day, celebrated this week, among a representative sample of Israel's adult Jewish population.
We can no longer accept the grave reality of the continued denial by the Jewish State of religious freedom for Jews.
According to the survey, only 17% of the Jewish public believes that the Declaration of Independence's promise of freedom of religion has been fully realized in Israel. Among those who think that it has not been fully realized, 92% would like it be, including most of the voters for the Government Coalition parties: The Likud, Kulanu, Yisrael Beiteinu, and even the Jewish Home!
Hiddush in the Media
- Explained: Why Secular Israelis Are Burning Mad Over Religious Coercion, April 24, 2017, Haaretz
- Fed up with Shabbat laws, secular Israelis fund bus service to the beach, April 28, 2017, The Cleveland Jewish News
- Orthodox Politicians in Israel To Fight Shabbat Business Ruling, April 25, 2017, The NY Jewish Voice
- 73% of Jewish Israelis agree with Shabbat ruling – poll, May 4, 2017, The Times of Israel
- Orthodox politicians to fight Shabbat business ruling, April 21, 2017, Ynet
- A US government body on religious freedom is accused of going easy on Israel, April 29, 2017, Times of Israel
- Congress-mandated panel accused of whitewashing Israeli discrimination against Christians, April 24, 2017, AL Monitor