(Photos: In Jerusalem’s central train station, Israelis heading to protest for judicial reform in Tel Aviv and against judicial reform in Jerusalem, shake hands – Sunday July 23, 2023)
In recent months, we have seen tensions in Israel rise to alarming levels. Although the current debate is focused on Israel's judicial system, it cuts deeper into divisions over what it means for different groups to coexist in a Jewish and democratic state. This has been very painful to watch from the outside and even more painful for many Israelis to experience.
This week, the Israeli government passed the "reasonableness standard" bill, the first law in its push to decrease the power of the judicial branch. Supporters say this will stop abuses of power where the judiciary blocks government actions for political reasons, rather than legal ones. Critics say this will enable abuses of power by the government, such as appointing ministers who were previously convicted on corruption charges. The opposition has already filed lawsuits against the bill and promised to overturn it after the next election. Although there will be no further legislative moves until the next Knesset session in the Fall, intense protests are set to continue.
In his recent speech to Congress, Israel's President Isaac Herzog said, “I know our democracy is strong and resilient. Israel has democracy in its DNA.” Recent months have shown the deep commitment that countless Israelis have to their country and its democratic values. There have also been displays of understanding and respect between those who strongly disagree, which inspire hope.
Efforts to bring about a compromise between the government and opposition are expected to take place in the coming months, but in the meantime serious tensions remain. Now more than ever, we believe it is crucial that even deep disagreements do not prevent us from remaining united around our love for Israel and the Jewish people. Unfortunately, those who seek to eliminate Israel are exploiting the current situation to spread more misinformation, amplify divisions, and further harm the world's only Jewish state.
With that in mind, we are continuing to update our educational materials to help the public stay informed and better understand different perspectives in Israel. We encourage you to read our explainer on the judicial debate, and share it with your friends and family.
Additionally, we welcome your feedback about how we, as a non-partisan organization, can help you educate others and have productive conversations about these difficult issues.
We reaffirm our support of Israel, our pride in its Jewish and democratic values, and our hope that Israelis will find a way to resolve their differences and agree on a path forward.
CEO and Co-Founder
About StandWithUs StandWithUs (SWU) is an international, non-profit and non-partisan Israel education organization that works to inspire and educate people of all ages about Israel, as well as challenge misinformation and fight against antisemitism.
Through university fellowships, high school internships, middle school curricula, conferences, materials, social media, educational films and missions to Israel, StandWithUs supports people around the world who want to educate their schools and communities about Israel.
Founded in 2001 and headquartered in Los Angeles, the organization has chapters and programs throughout the U.S., in Israel, the UK, Canada, South Africa, Brazil and the Netherlands.
For the last eleven years, SWU has consistently received the highest possible ratings from Charity Navigator (4 stars) and Guidestar (Platinum).