November 2, 2022
Today, we affirm Israel’s robust democracy, reflected in the more than 71% turnout for the fifth election in four years. We love Israel and are committed to the vision of Israel as a democratic, pluralistic Jewish state.
Benjamin Netanyahu is likely to become prime minister, and we congratulate him on his unprecedented sixth term. Additionally, we commend current prime minister Yair Lapid for announcing that, should Netanyahu prevail, there will be a peaceful, democratic transition.
As Netanyahu assembles his coalition, we are profoundly concerned about promises of cabinet positions he has made to Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben Gvir, the leaders of the ultra-nationalist Religious Zionism party. Their platforms and past actions indicate that they would curtail the authority of Israel’s Supreme Court and inhibit the rights of Israeli Arabs, Palestinians, members of the LGBTQ+ community and large segments of Jews who are non-Orthodox. Including Ben Gvir and Smotrich in the government will likely jeopardize Israel’s democracy and will force the country to reckon with its place on the world stage. It will almost certainly lead to challenging moments in U.S.-Israel relations and will be painful for Jews worldwide who will not see the Israel they love and believe in reflected in these leaders, nor in the policies they pursue.
Our commitment to Zionism is unwavering and we take some comfort knowing that our partner and colleague, Reform Rabbi Gilad Kariv, will remain a strong voice for democracy and pluralism as a member of the Knesset. We look forward to working closely with those across the political spectrum who share a commitment to the fundamental ideals enshrined in the Israeli Declaration of Independence. Together with the Israeli Reform Movement, we will navigate the coming period with fortitude, rooted in our belief in Israel’s future as a peaceful, democratic homeland for the Jewish people, no matter how they choose to worship or believe, and a place in which all its citizens—Jewish and Arab alike —are respected and can thrive.
Union for Reform Judaism
Jennifer Brodkey Kaufman (she/her), Chair
Rabbi Rick Jacobs (he/him), President
Central Conference of American Rabbis
Rabbi Lewis Kamrass (he/him), President
Rabbi Hara E. Person (she/her), Chief Executive
American Conference of Cantors
Cantor Seth Warner (he/him), President
Rachel Roth (she/her), Chief Operating Officer