The news that there is a commitment to renew peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian leadership is welcome news indeed. Secretary of State Kerry’s efforts should be acknowledged and appreciated by all.
Many are still skeptical about whether a “2 state solution” can really work and I, too, have concerns. But, I believe it is the best hope and in the absence of any other idea or proposal that will allow for self determination for Palestinians and a secure future for Israel as a Jewish state, I hope that both parties will vigorously pursue this possibility for a resolution to the conflict.
One of the interesting aspects of the current discussion is the decision by the Knesset to bring any proposed peace settlement to a national referendum before it is signed by the leadership. While I understand completely why such a referendum seems like a good idea, there are two aspects of it that trouble me.
First, it seems to go against the idea of representative government. In a democracy, the people elect the individuals (or the parties) that they feel can best represent their opinions and protect their interests. Those individuals are the ones who should make decisions based on their expertise, their experience and their insights on the situation.
If a majority of the members of the Knesset felt that a peace treaty was in fact fair and provided for Israel’s security, it would seem that that would be enough. Of course, with an issue this serious and irrevocable, it might be argued that everyone should have their say but it seems to me that this decision should be made by those with the knowledge and expertise who have been granted the responsibility for decision making.
And the second aspect of this decision that interests me is: now that the decision has been made to have such a referendum, should only Israeli citizens have a vote? Should I have a vote as well?
Now, the easiest answer to this is no and that may, in fact, be the best answer. But, let’s not be hasty.
I am not a citizen of Israel. I did not serve in the Army, I will not have to face the ramifications of the decision in terms of my daily life. All of this is absolutely and undeniably true.
However, I still believe that my voice should be heard.
As a lover and supporter of Israel and as one who has dedicated my professional (and personal life) to serving the Jewish community and the Jewish people, I believe that my voice should be heard. I would humbly suggest to the government of Israel that, even if my “vote” is not solicited or counted in the same way that an Israeli citizen’s should- and I would understand that completely-there should be some mechanism by which the voices of the leadership of Diaspora Jewry, if not all Jews, should be heard and respected and listened to should, God willing, a peace treaty actually be written.
The connection of American Jews to Israel is not easy to characterize. But, if Israel is to truly be a “Jewish State” and if Israel expects, and rightly so, that we should continue to encourage our young people to feel a connection with the country, then somehow our voices should count for something as the most basic and fundamental decisions for the future are made.
I have no idea how the majority of Diaspora Jews will feel about a peace treaty so this opinion is not intended to make a particular outcome more likely. It is also not meant in any way to trivialize the difference between the impact such a decision will have on Israelis as opposed to Diaspora Jews. But, I would like to know that Israel is listening to the voices of all Jews throughout the world as it makes the most important decisions concerning its future.