An International Jewish Parliament

First published April 1996, Jerusalem Foundation Papers.

Overcoming Israel’s Fatal Flaw: Plan III—An International Jewish Parliament

“The majority of the people living in a Jewish State must be Jewish. We must prevent a situation of an insufficient Jewish majority and we dare not have a Jewish minority….There is room for a non-Jewish minority on condition that it accept the destiny of the State vis- -vis the Jewish people, culture, tradition, and belief. The minority is entitled to equal rights as individuals with respect to their distinct religion and culture, but not more than that.”

Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin
Tel Aviv, May 6, 1976

 

Israel’s Fatal Flaw

The most neglected and most urgent issue confronting Israel—the issue implicit in the above headnote—is the Arab vote. It was the Arab vote that brought the Labor Party to power in the June 1992 Knesset elections. It was the Arab vote that led to the Oslo Accords and the shrinkage of Israel. Unless this issue is resolved, Israel will not see much of the 21st century.

Increasingly obvious in Israel is a fatal flaw. The flaw originated in the Proclamation of the Establishment of the State of 1948. The Proclamation repeatedly announces the establishment of a Jewish State, yet prescribes equal political rights for all inhabitants irrespective of religion….

 

Israel’s Demoralization

Heroic and unprecedented action will be required by Diaspora Jewry to save the Third Commonwealth, and for the following reasons. (a) The founders of the State, animated primarily by Marxism, a cosmopolitan and atheistic creed, provided no solid foundation for Jewish pride or national honor. (b) The intifada and the even more horrifying slaughter of Jews since the Rabin-Arafat handshake have further demoralized the people. (c) The Likud, so very much responsible for the intifada and the sorely misnamed “peace process,” is divided and devoid of spirit and new ideas. (d) The Labor party, even when out of office, dominates the economy, the media, and the country’s educational and cultural institutions.

This morbid state of affairs, above all the lack of Jewish national pride, renders it almost impossible to save Israel from disaster without massive ideological reinforcement from Diaspora Jewry. The impotence of a Likud government vis- -vis stone-throwing Arabs was shameful enough. But nothing bears comparison with the humiliation wrought by the Rabin-Peres regime: its surrendering Jewish land and holy places to the PLO, a mere gang of cutthroats; its releasing thousands of terrorist killers while Jews opposed to Israel’s march toward disappearance; its arming and financing 40,000 Palestinian terrorists from abroad on the grounds that security can best be achieved by Israeli cooperation with terrorists with direct experience in killing Jews!

All this, so dumbfounding, is utterly unprecedented in the experience of mankind¬¬. This unspeakable condition would never be tolerated by a people habituated to freedom—further proof that Israel is not and never has been a democracy. Many Jews in Israel, having seen their political leaders groveling to a villain like Yasir Arafat, have been dehumanized. They have seen their government controlled not by Jews so much as by lackeys of the PLO.

Nothing less than drastic remedial action by Diaspora Jewry is necessary. Urgently needed, and infinitely more than financial support, is unqualified condemnation of anti-religious forces in Israel on the one hand, and spiritual resuscitation of a demoralized people on the other. Accordingly, all well-wishers of Israel, American Zionist organizations in particular, should publicly advocate the establishment in Israel of a truly Jewish State, more precisely, a Jewish Constitutional Democracy whose laws are made solely by Jews, be they religious or not. Plan IV, published in Jerusalem Foundation Paper No. 4, will provide not only a legal and philosophical justification for such a State, but the basic outlines of a Jewish Constitution.

That this task should commence on the centennial of Theodor Herzl’s The Jewish State would surely be auspicious. But if Plan IV is to be more than an academic exercise—and this could have been said of Herzl’s courageous Judenstaat—we shall also need something comparable to Herzl’s World Zionist Congress.

 

An International Jewish Parliament

Plan III proposes, first, a Conference of Zionist and other Jewish organizations in the United States and abroad for the sole purpose of establishing an International Jewish Parliament. Membership in the Parliament will of course be open to Jews throughout the world on the basis of proportional representation. Heroic efforts must be made to recruit Israelis in the Diaspora, hundreds of thousands of whom are in the United States.

Second, for maximum impact on the public, it would be desirable for the International Jewish Parliament (hereafter the IJP) to convene, if not Jerusalem, then in Washington, DC. After organizing itself, the Parliament will appoint a Constitutional Committee to discuss and further elaborate the Jewish Constitutional Democracy contained in Plan IV.

(To summarize for present purposes: the proposed Constitution involves a presidential-parliamentary system of government with certain features of the American Constitution. The parliament is bicameral. Its two basic functions, law-making and administrative overview, are divided between two branches. Whereas the upper branch makes the laws and is limited to Jews, the lower branch, to which both Jews and non-Jews are eligible, exercises the power of administrative scrutiny, conducts public hearings, and submits findings and recommendations to the upper branch and/or the Judiciary.

Included is a Bill of Rights affirming the personal, religious and civil liberties of all inhabitants of the State. The Bill of Rights, by the way, surpasses others and is compatible to Jews and non-Jews alike by virtue of humane principles derived from the Torah. This point needs to be emphasized precisely because the most important task is to restore Jewish national honor. No organization and no political party will save Israel unless its words and deeds restore a due sense of Jewish pride rooted in the heritage of the Jewish people—known by Gentiles as diverse as John Adams and Friedrich Nietzsche as the educators of mankind.

The IJP will establish various Public Policy Committees such as Defense, Foreign Affairs, Finance, Commerce and Industry, Religion and Education, Communications and Culture, Science and Technology, etc. Each Committee will be headed by a prominent personality and staffed by experts with experience in Israel. Each Committee will formulate a professional policy paper intended for implementation in Israel. (Simplified versions of such papers will be distributed to the media and the general public.)

So far as practicable, policy papers should duly acknowledge relevant principles drawn from the tradition of the Jewish people. For example, the Finance Committee will design a free-market economy for a Jewish State modulated by Jewish ethics.

The International Jewish Parliament would thus provide a programmatic, financial, and philosophical support system for any party in Israel committed to the goal of a Jewish Constitutional Democracy. Such a party in Israel would have a solid base of electoral support. A poll taken shortly before the 1992 national elections indicates that 50% of Israel’s Jewish population believe in the divine origin of the Torah. Although only 20% are fully observant, 29% regard themselves as “traditional.” Moreover, roughly 50% of those who identify themselves as “secular” observe major Jewish holidays and even accept the status quo regarding religious legislation. Furthermore, approximately 75% oppose Arab membership in the Knesset! This data clearly indicates that an overwhelming majority of the Jews would be amenable to a Jewish Constitutional Democracy, the more so when vigorously supported by an International Jewish Parliament. Even many Jews who habitually vote Labor would support such a Constitution or a Jewish Classical Democracy.

Any party in Israel committed to a Jewish State would surely want to cooperate with the projected International Jewish Parliament and participate in its deliberations (as Israel’s Labor party does vis- -vis the Socialist International). Indeed, the success of Plans II and IV requires such cooperation. This collaboration would enhance the prestige of a Jewish oriented party in Israel and win to its support perhaps a decisive number of voters in the country’s national elections. The International Jewish Parliament could give rise to a Constitutional Party in Israel with extensive grass-roots support, enough, in four years to make Israel a truly Jewish Commonwealth.

The Constitution outlined in Plan IV and further elaborated by the International Jewish Parliament with the participation of a like-minded party in Israel should win massive support among the Jewish people, for it will articulate their abiding religious and political convictions and aspirations.

Finally, this International Jewish Parliament for a Jewish Constitutional Democracy in Israel will foster that great Jewish synthesis, universalism and particularism. Israel will be international yet Jewish.

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