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Israel Speaks: Human Dignity

Project Head: Dr. Arye Carmon.
Academic Director: Prof. Tamar Herman

Israeli society is more splintered and polarized than ever. As a result, there is an urgent need to formulate a set of values that is shared by the diverse individuals and groups that make up Israeli society. Israel Speaks: Human Dignity is a unique IDI project that has been designed to address this need. This civic initiative will bring together ever-widening circles of Israeli citizens to participate in a historic, nation-wide effort to draft a Declaration of Human Dignity. This declaration will highlight the common values that bind all Israelis together regardless of religion, ethnicity, gender, or ideological difference and will demonstrate the potential for articulating a shared, normative foundation for Israeli society. President Shimon Peres, who has recognized the importance of this effort, has extended his patronage to the process.

The participants of the Assembly of 200

The participants of the Assembly of 200

Israel Thinks: Human Dignity is a unique IDI initiative that consists of ever-widening circles of involvement, whose common purpose is to encourage in-depth public discourse that will lead to a change of values in Israeli society. The concrete product of this deliberative process—a Declaration of Human Dignity—will have broad public consensus and legitimacy and will become a living document that is implemented in the daily life of the Israeli public.

At the heart of this project is a deliberative process that is made up of four stages:

  1. The Council of 20: As a first step, on June 17–18, 2013 a council of 20 representatives of Israeli society assembled at IDI in Jerusalem to share their perspectives on human dignity and define the conceptual framework for a Declaration of Human Dignity. This civic council proposed a common theoretical and moral basis for deliberations in public forums that will be comprised of representatives of Israeli society as a whole.
  2. The Assembly of 200: On January 21–22, 2013, a group of 200 citizens who are a representative sample of the Israeli population met in Jerusalem and began to actually draft a Declaration of Human Dignity, based on the framework defined by the Council of 20.
  3. Gatherings of 2,000: A series of town hall meetings throughout Israel will focus on the Declaration of Human Dignity and the effect that its adoption will have on the daily life of Israeli citizens. Participants in these meetings will reflect the diverse points of view of various organizations and communities in Israeli society.
  4. The Forum of 200,000: Parallel to the town hall meetings, some 200,000 Israeli citizens will participate in virtual deliberations through social networks and other innovative technological platforms. Their discussions will focus on the draft of the Declaration and dilemmas related to human dignity.

On Sunday March 9, 2014, IDI presented a preliminary draft of the Declaration of Human Dignity to President Shimon Peres at a ceremony at the President's residence. It is our hope that the results of this civic initiative will be a testament to the ability of the citizens of Israel to reach consensus and will have a real impact on life in the State of Israel.

  • Rabbi Haim Amsalem, Former Member of Knesset, Shas Party
  • Rabbanit Adina Bar-Shalom, Founder and Executive Director, The Haredi College of Jerusalem
  • Mr. Michael Biton, Head of the Local Council, Yerucham
  • Dr. Meir Buzaglo, Former Head of the Department of Philosophy, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Chairman of the Tikkun Movement
  • Mr. Eli Elalouf, Former Executive Director of the Rashi Foundation
  • Rabbi Mordechai Karelitz, Former Mayor of Bnei Brak
  • Attorney Rabbi Gilad Kariv, Executive Director, The Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism
  • Mr. Yoav Kraiem, Disabled Rights Activist; Chairman of the National Council for the Rehabilitation in the Community of Persons with Mental Disabilities
  • Attorney Imran Kinana, Head of the Local Council, Yaffa of Nazareth
  • Rabbi Dr. Benjamin (Benny) Lau, Head of IDI's Human Rights and Judaism in Action Project and Rabbi of the Ramban Synagogue, Jerusalem
  • Rabbi Tzahi Lehman, Tzohar Rabbinical Organization
  • Attorney Orna Lin, Orna Lin & Co; Board Member of the Abraham Fund Initiatives
  • Prof. Fadia Nasser-Abu Alhija, Associate Professor, School of Education, Tel Aviv University
  • Mr. Eshkol Nevo, Author
  • Rabbanit Malka Puterkovsky, Director of the Halakha Program, Midreshet Lindenbaum
  • Mr. Ori Reshtik, Chairman, of the National Union of Israeli Students
  • Prof. Shlomo Mor-Yosef, Director General, National Insurance Institute
  • Ms. Karen Tal, Co-Founder and CEO of "Tovanot Bachinuch" – Education Insights
  • Mr. Muki Tsur, Author, Historian
  • Mr. Pinchas Wallerstein, Former Leader of Gush Emunim and Director of the Yesha Council
  • Ms. Dana Weiss, Journalist