Press Release

200 Israelis to Gather to Write Foundational Declaration

200 Israelis to Gather to Write Foundational Declaration Rare Assembly Aims to Produce Declaration of Human Dignity

Rare Assembly Aims to Produce Declaration of Human Dignity

Thursday, 16 January 2013, Israel Democracy Institute, 4 Pinsker St., Jerusalem - As many feel the solidarity and mutual responsibility that characterized Israeli society is receding in favor of a more splintered and polarized citizenry, a bold initiative has been launched to combat this phenomenon and move Israel closer to the vision of its founders as inscribed in its Declaration of Independence.

Israel Speaks: Human Dignity is an intrepid initiative, sponsored by the Israel Democracy Institute, to create what Israel's founders — focused on external threats and preserving Israel's very existence — did not succeed in composing: a document enshrining the rights of Israeli citizens. Known as the Declaration of Human Dignity, the Declaration will serve as the written testament to our common values and the rights to which each individual is entitled, such as freedom, equality, free will, and the sanctity of life. Led by IDI President Dr. Arye Carmon and Senior Fellow Prof. Tamar Hermann and supported by Israeli President Shimon Peres, the project aims for the Declaration to be one of the foundational documents of the state and a cornerstone of a future constitution.

A group of leading Israelis from across the political, demographic, and geographic spectrum, known as the Council of 20, met in July to discuss threats to human dignity and to draft general principles for the Declaration. Participants included Adina Bar-Shalom, Founder and CEO of the Haredi College of Jerusalem, Rabbanit Malka Puterkovsky, a leading figure promoting advanced Torah study among women, Imran Kanaana, head of the Yafia Local Authority, Michael Biton, Mayor of Yerucham, Rabbi Haim Amsalem, former MK, and Prof. Shlomo Mor-Yosef, Director-General of the National Insurance Institute and former Director-General of the Hadassah Medical Organization. Their outline is being brought to the next stage of Israel Speaks next week.

The Assembly of 200 will take place on Monday, January 20 and Tuesday, January 21 at the Dan Jerusalem Hotel. An exceedingly rare assemblage, a truly representative sample of Israel — including men and women, old and young, Jews and Arabs, ultra-Orthodox and secular, city dwellers and those in the periphery — will gather for two days of intense discussions and working groups to develop and address the challenges outlined by the Council of 20. The consensus and common understanding built by the Assembly of 200 will then be debated and modified by future Gatherings of 2,000 and then finally by the virtual Forum of 200,000.

Commenting on the initiative, Dr. Carmon stated, "This unique meeting, which brings together citizens from all walks of Israeli society, is a response to the change that is taking place in Israeli society today. Israeli citizens are no longer willing to stand on the sidelines, but are demanding to be active partners.... [I]t is a living document that will be written by citizens — without any distinction of religion, race, gender, or education — and its values will be... incorporated into Israel's education system, the work of Israeli institutions, organizational life, and the day-to-day life of Israel's citizens."

To learn more, see the Assembly of 200's event page and the Israel Speaks project page.

For more information on the Israel Speaks initiative, the Assembly of 200, or to schedule an interview, contact:
Yehoshua Oz
Director of International Communications