Today is one of the most historic days in Israel’s 75-year history.
It is both alarming and inspiring. A cause for hope, and a cause for deep concern.
This weekend, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s own Defense Minister, Yoav Gallant, urged the government to pause incendiary judicial “reform” plans which have sparked months of pro-democracy protests across Israel and in Jewish communities around the world. “This poses a clear, immediate, and tangible threat to the security of the state,” he warned.
Netanyahu’s response was to unceremoniously fire Gallant and press full steam ahead.
What has happened since is breathtaking.
In a stunning display of mass support for democracy, hundreds of thousands of pro-democracy protesters took to the streets in the middle of the night, protesting in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and across the country. A national strike has grounded flights and shuttered universities and shopping malls, with teachers, doctors, diplomats and thousands of others walking off the job.
Today, Netanyahu has announced that he will postpone the votes on judicial reforms until the next legislative session beginning in May – while pledging to still work to secure their passage.
The fight is far from over. But this is a very significant victory for the pro-democracy movement and today, it’s more important than ever to show and sustain our support.
With Israel’s democratic future in the balance, J Street is deeply proud to stand in unequivocal solidarity with Israeli protesters. As pro-Israel, pro-peace, pro-democracy Americans, we support their struggle.
Alarmingly, Netanyahu appears to have secured support for the delay from his right-wing partners by agreeing to establish a “national guard” overseen by far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir — a deeply troubling development with potentially serious ramifications for peace and security for both Israelis and Palestinians.
Just weeks ahead of Israel’s milestone 75th anniversary, the country stands at a historic crossroads.
Will its future be dominated by an agenda that is authoritarian, discriminatory and illiberal, deepening endless conflict and occupation, and suppressing key freedoms?
Or can the incredibly inspiring pro-democracy movement uphold and enact the founding values of Israel’s Declaration of Independence – of a thriving state for all its citizens, living in peace and security alongside its neighbors?
We can’t know what the final outcome of this struggle will be in the days (and years) ahead – but we know what our role is as Americans who care deeply about Israel’s future.
We must speak out. We must rally ourselves, wherever we can. We must push our own elected leaders in the White House and Congress to do everything in their power to back the protesters, stand up to Netanyahu, and demand a halt to the far-right’s “judicial coup.”
J Street is honored to do this work every day, with the help and backing of our supporters across the country. Together, we will continue to build the movement for democracy, peace and a better future.