Israel is a country that has been fighting for its existence and survival since day one.
Having fought many wars and living with constant threats, Israelis are now in an uphill battle for their democracy. This battle is not fought with tanks or guns, but with the power of unity, protest and determination to protect the core of their nation.
Last week, hundreds of thousands took to the streets across the country in response to the Netanyahu government’s approval, and the Knesset’s first reading, of the “reasonableness law,” which will severely limit judicial review of decisions made by the cabinet, government ministers and other elected officials.
The bill is part of a controversial legislative package advanced by Netanyahu’s hardline coalition that aims to overhaul Israel’s independent judiciary and curb checks and balances on political power. This week, the government plans to bring the bill to final votes.
And our clear answer is, “NO”.
We at JVP and the entire Israeli high-tech sector, whose members came out in droves to protest, alongside doctors, teachers, reservists, pilots, special forces units and people from all walks of life, are saying no to dictatorship and yes to democracy.
Often, in the history of countries, there are key moments of real existential crisis that require answers on values.
In addition to their contribution to Israel’s economy, the technology community recognizes the vital role that democracy and social openness play in fostering innovation, invention and creativity. These values are the very foundation of the national spirit that drives the country’s success on the world stage. As a result, the high-tech sector has joined forces with other industries to stand united in defending the democratic principles that have allowed Israel to thrive.
We refuse to allow our hard-fought freedoms to be undermined by a government that seeks to consolidate power and erode the principles that have made Israel a beacon of democracy in the region.
What Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has found in many of us are fighters. Just as we have been warriors on the front line, we are also warriors in this battle for democracy. We understand that the strength of a nation lies not only in its military power, but also in its commitment to uphold the values of justice, equality and freedom. We will not sit idly by as these values are threatened.
With last week’s mass demonstrations and more protests planned this week, Israelis from the center, left and moderate right are sending a powerful message to Netanyahu and his far-right partners: The judicial review he and they are trying to lead is unacceptable and will not be allowed to pass. We refuse to let Israel slide down the dangerous path of illiberal governance witnessed in countries like Poland and Hungary. The strength of our country lies in its vibrant democracy, where the rule of law rules and the rights of every citizen are protected.
In a country with such strong social ties and so many people who have sacrificed and paid heavy prices, we cannot allow this government to hijack the judicial system and transform Israel from a proud, hard-won liberal democracy into something we no longer recognize.
For Israelis, democracy and social openness are the basic conditions of innovation, invention and creativity. It is our national spirit.
The collective determination to defend democratic principles reflects deep social bonds and the belief that the preservation of democracy is vital to the continued success and prosperity of the nation.
Technology and innovation – for JVP and many in the high-tech sector and other industries – have been important in fostering collaboration and partnerships with other technology and business ecosystems, not only in the US, Europe and Asia, but also in the Middle East. Countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan have become allies in the pursuit of technological progress and economic growth.
We cannot allow everything we have built to be destroyed by a government bent on undermining Israel’s independent judiciary, a cornerstone of any democracy. The high-tech sector, along with various other industries, stands united in its commitment to protect the democratic values that have fueled Israel’s success on the global stage.
Just as they have been warriors on the front lines of technological progress, they are now warriors in the fight to protect the democratic spirit of their nation. The determination to overcome this existential crisis and uphold the core values that define Israel’s identity and strength is a testament to the resilience and unity of the Israeli people. This key moment requires a firm attitude towards the values that have shaped the history of the country and is the one that will shape its future.
We will overcome this and the people who are trying to destroy democracy today will be gone tomorrow. Often, in the history of countries, there are key moments of real existential crisis that require answers on values.
For Israel, this is one of those moments.