New Israel Fund Australia answers Tzipi Livni’s call

March 27, 2014 by J-Wire Staff
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Late last year, Israel’s Minister of Justice, Tzipi Livni, called on Jewish communities around the world to contribute to a proposed deliberation about “a constitutional arrangement dealing with Israel’s identity as a Jewish and democratic state.”

Robin Margo

Robin Margo

NIF Australia has now forwarded a submission prepared through direct consultations with more than 100 members of the community.

Robin Margo SC, President of NIF Australia, said: “”The overwhelming consensus of contributors was that Israel must be a state for all its citizens while retaining a uniquely Jewish quality”.  Margo said contributors had expressed the clear view that “it is important for Israel’s Jewish character to remain distinct but, as a democracy, Israel should not preference any particular stream of Judaism over any other, and should treat all recognised religions equally, including provision of civil options for life events such as marriage, divorce and burial.”

Discussions about the Jewish character of the state focused on Israel’s role as a country of refuge for Jews including through the Law of Return, and on the importance of Jewish national holidays and symbols, and of Hebrew language and culture to life in Israel.

Margo said: “A strong consensus from the discussions was that the desire for  Israel to  retain its  Jewish character carries a corresponding obligation to protect minorities from discrimination and disadvantage; to uphold the individual rights of all citizens; to maintain Arabic as a second national language in view of the large proportion of the  population who are Arabic speakers; and to demonstrate in concrete ways to non-Jewish citizens that their specific religious and  cultural identities are respected by the state”.

NIF Australia has now published its submission to Jerusalem on its website.  Invitations were sent to NIF’s database of supporters and interested parties and 49 written submissions were made and the views of 44 attendees were captured in the course of professionally facilitated workshops in Sydney and Melbourne.

The submission is part of a consultation with world Jewry conducted by the Jewish People Policy Institute on behalf of Professor Ruth Gavison and Israel’s Justice Minister, Tzipi Livni.

Participants emphasised also that international recognition of self-determination for the Jewish people in Israel had been matched by similar recognition of the right of self-determination for Palestinians in a sovereign and democratic state.

Mr Margo added: “Participants valued the special relationship between Israel and world Jewry but opposed creation of a more formal relationship by legislation.  They felt that formalising the relationship would blur the distinction between Israelis and Jews, and a statutory special relationship with non-citizens would be inconsistent with a truly democratic state.”

Many participants expressed appreciation for being consulted and said that their knowledge and their engagement with Israel has been deepened as a result.”


3 Responses to “New Israel Fund Australia answers Tzipi Livni’s call”
  1. Robin Margo says:

    People who like to think for themselves should read NIF Australia’s full submission at and the briefing paper at the link referred to in footnote 2 of that submission.

  2. Otto Waldmann says:

    To be honest, while aghast at the thought, I envisaged that by now NIF Aust. had a lot more than just one hundred members. The number of contributors to the discussions referred here, with “members of the community” MUST be referring strictly to the NIF members and maybe a few “fellow-travelers”, not actual card carrying NIF members.
    Thus the “consultations” which would pretend to be across the community needs to be properly qualified.

    In regards to the objections raised by NIF to several matters concerning the status of Israel as a Jewish State and all related issues as presented by NIF, it comes as NO surprise that NIF, once again and persistently, is far more concerned with the “causes” of non Jewish matters and non- Jews specifically than what one may suspect that “I” in the NIF would stand for. Going by the principles and cases defended by NIF, the “I” in NIF cannot possibly stand for Israel as NIF has NOTHING to do with maters Jewish in a positive protective way.
    That NIF is a clear extension of all concerns espoused by political entities inimical to Israel, is a fact well documented.
    Addressing the minute issues raised by NIF here is as redundant as it is sufficiently clear that NIF may NOT be included in a frank, genuine debate concerning Israel’s well-being.

    • Karen Loblay says:

      I am a director of NIF Australia and can assure Mr Waldmann that NIF worldwide has the very best interests of Israel at the heart of our work. NIF funds only organisations that are registered NFPs with the Israeli government. Our consultations were with our database but also with like-minded members of the wider Jewish community. Everyone involved with NIF is a proud Zionist. Mr Waldmann should better inform himself of our work before he criticises. We invite him and anyone who is interested in Israel’s wellbeing to attend our events and ask difficult questions. This is the basis of traditional Jewish discourse and debate and we welcome it.

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