How to Rebuild the

Israeli Society

October 6, Simchat Torah eve

  1. Alienation and lack of a common core: There is a profound identity, ethical and social crisis and a lack of a widely accepted core regarding the character and purpose of the State of Israel and the significance of its identity as a Jewish state. The absence of a common base has led to different groups being unable to work together in the face of security and other challenges that affect all the country’s citizens.
  2. A “cold” civil war: There is an atmosphere of violence and hostility in the streets, on social media and in the Knesset, fueled by politicians, the media and five election cycles. The fight over the judicial overhaul has become a war over the character of the state, threatening the integrity of the army and weakening the Israeli immune system. The same public atmosphere led to giving up on coexistence and calls to split Israel into different autonomies. 
  3. A separate contract for each tribe and structured encouragement of sectorialism: In Israel there exists not one social contract, but four contracts that are fundamentally different from one another. The system of citizen’s rights and obligations in Israel varies according to the tribal identity of the individual. Military service, education, housing, transportation and personal security all hinge on tribal identity. Israel’s method of budgeting, too, rewards separatism and segregation, and the more the tribal core is solid and distinct — the higher the funding for that tribe. As a result, each tribe feels they must fight for the funding they receive, and the aspiration to create a shared Israeli base is not a top priority. 
  4. Breakdown of the Zionist alliance: The Zionist public has split into two hostile camps, and both have pushed aside shared Zionist interests and allowed extremists to dictate the discourse and set the course.
  5. Break between Diaspora Jewry and Israel: In recent years there has been a mutual distancing between the Israeli government and Jews around the world, which has created additional damage to national resilience and weakened support for Israel, Jewish identity in the Diaspora, foreign relations and Israel advocacy. 
Oct. 7

October 8

We discovered that at our core, we want first and foremost to protect our existence together, regardless of our disagreements. In an instant, our internal conflicts were set aside, the extremists were weakened, and our unity became the center. The unprecedented mobilization of civil society to volunteer for reserve duty, help the front lines and the home front, and advocate for Israel around the world is awe-inspiring. At the same time, we all know that a shared enemy does not create the basis for a shared identity, and if we do not fundamentally deal with our internal crisis, it will return to threaten us as soon as the war is over.

How to Rebuild Israeli Society

  1. Making social cohesion a national and strategic goal: Engaging all public systems, led by the Prime Minister’s Office, by building programs, allocating resources, and creating partnerships with civil society and the business sector to build a broad common base of Israeli identity and culture based on Jewish-democratic values. This includes formulating governing principles that envision Judaism as a unifying force rather than a divisive one, based on the principle of “more Judaism — less coercion”.
  2. Transitioning away from maintaining the status quo while sweeping fundamental problems under the rug toward building coping mechanisms: Creating and legislating a system for formulating a written constitution; establishing processes for recognizing pain and injustice and reconciliation between the different tribes of society; reviewing the Nation-State Law; addressing the challenge of Israeli-Arab and Israeli-ultra-Orthodox identity by building a true covenant of equal civic rights and responsibilities.
  3. Rebuilding the people’s army: Alongside its primary job of defending the security of the state and its inhabitants, the IDF can and must satisfy two national needs to reinforce Israel’s resilience: an essential socialization process that unites all sections of society around shared values and goals; and training all Israelis in essential emergency skills such as self-defense and first aid. Therefore, we must bring back the IDF’s status as the people’s army — the shared responsibility of all communities in Israel. Conscription for compulsory military service in the IDF should apply to every Israeli at the age of 18, but it should be possible to exchange this for alternative service tracks such as firefighting, Magen David Adom, nursing, etc.
  4. Reinforcing our alliance with world Jewry: Not only as an alliance of shared fate in the face of dangers, but as an alliance of shared purpose for the Jewish people. Israel should invest in reinforcing its relationship with the Jewish world; recognize the different denominations of Judaism and the unique contribution of Jewish communities around the world to Israel; and institutionalize a system for consulting the world’s Jewish communities on decisions that directly affect them. The Israeli government must also engage Jewish communities around the world in its national security approach in two senses: (1) The communities as a strategic asset for Israel, local human representation with international influence. (2) The communities as an inseparable part of Israel that require protection in an emergency. To this end, we should establish mechanisms (or use existing ones) that enable rapid response in both directions in an emergency: (A) using Jewish communities as groups for lobbying and advocacy in their countries; (B) using the relevant Israeli government ministries to work in collaboration with the relevant international governments to ensure the wellbeing and security of Jewish communities in the Diaspora. 
  5. The new 50:30:20 operating system: Israeli society is in need of an ethical, conceptual and vision-based glue that will enable it to operate with a shared identity, collaboratively and in solidarity. However, Israeli society is diverse and necessitates recognition of its different groups, each with its own unique characteristics. The new 50:30:20 operating system in Israel will be based on an approach by which, in all areas, authority, content, budgeting mechanisms, and decision-making will be 50% allocated to the national level; 30% to the local level; and 20% to the community level. This operating system will make it possible to transfer around half of the management of citizens’ lives into their own hands (see more details in a separate section on the final page of this document).