Ben-Gurion and Jabotinsky are Turning in their Graves

On July 20, 2011, soon after the Knesset passed the Anti-Boycott Law and just before its vote on legislation that would mandate investigations of human rights organizations, IDI placed an ad in three major Israeli newspapers, calling on everyone who shares the Zionist vision—especially Israel's legislature and judiciary—to defend Israeli democracy from an onslaught of irresponsible legislative initiatives. Several days later, the ad, which warns of the erosion of the foundations of Israeli democracy, appeared in English in The Jerusalem Post and Haaretz. The full text can be found below.

Ben-Gurion and Jabotinsky are Turning in their Graves

From Ze'ev Jabotinsky to Berl Katznelson, from Ben-Gurion to Begin, the founders of this nation represented diverse movements and ideologies. They entrusted us with a most precious legacy: democracy.

The great achievement of the Zionist movement was to afford all citizens the possibility to realize their aspirations and the right to voice their opinions and beliefs. Our Declaration of Independence upholds the ideals of freedom, justice, and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel. Importantly, it grants full equality to every citizen, regardless of religion, race, or gender.

Sixty-three years after its founding, our state still lacks the constitution that would guarantee the human rights and civil liberties promised in the Declaration of Independence. In the absence of a constitution, short-sighted legislative initiatives are beginning to erode the foundations of Israeli democracy.

In recent months, an unprecedented number of bills of an anti-democratic spirit have flooded the Knesset's agenda. Many of these bills would restrict civil activities and infringe on minority rights. Some have passed into law and are now being challenged in the courts. Despite the good intentions behind some of these proposals, irresponsible legislation in the sensitive areas of human and civil rights damages our social fabric. These bills already are intensifying extremism and deepening divisions across all sectors of Israeli society.

Would all of the Knesset's current members ratify Israel's Declaration of Independence were they asked to do so today? How can those who voted in favor of recent legislative proposals not see how their votes betray the principles embodied in the Declaration?

We call upon everyone who shares the Zionist vision to defend the fundamental principles of democracy and its political institutions—above all the legislature and the judiciary. Israel belongs neither to the Right nor to the Left. It is home to all Israelis, held together by the democratic framework of the state. We have fought and sacrificed so much for our democracy. Let's cherish and protect it—not throw it all away.