Providing Diaspora Jews a Voice in the Knesset Moves One Step Forward

Yesterday, the Knesset Sub-Committee on Ties between Israel and the Jewish People took the first step to creating a Knesset that will also represent the Jewish People in the diaspora. The Sub-Committee discussed the proposal by Joelle Fiss, a British Jew currently living in New York, to create a “Jewish People’s Initiative” on the pattern of the European Union Citizens’ Initiative. Fiss recently published her ideas in Tiptoeing on Minefields. MK Einat Wilf, the Committee Chair, was quick to partially adopt some of her proposals and announced that a request by a few thousand Jews, from at least three different Jewish communities, registered by email or by “Likes” on Facebook, will lead her to initiate a debate by the Committee she chairs on the requested issue.

Wilf stressed that “consultation between the official institutions of the State of Israel and the Jewish People are essential, and it is important to listen and to understand the issues they face. [This consultation must be] not only with heads of a few Jewish organizations who meet periodically with ministers and Prime Ministers, but also with all the many Jews around the world.”

Fiss called for an open dialogue in real time, with the involvement of all the existing organizations, but also of individual Jews. She noted that any world Jewish parliament or initiative should also represent small communities just as much as the large ones and all the streams in Judaism.

On the one hand, she said, it must reflect the fact that 80% of world Jewry today lives in Israel and the United States but must also give weight to the rest of the Diaspora. Current technology makes it possible to follow and participate in the debates from anywhere in the world. Her first proposal is that a request from %0.2 of Diaspora Jewry should oblige the Knesset to hold a debate on the relevant issue.

Peleg Reshef, Deputy Executive Director of the Jewish Diplomatic Corps, protested at how little Israeli governments take Diaspora Jewry into consideration but pointed out that it is not necessary to create an institution for every initiative, with a name and a clear framework, and called for the expansion of existing forums at the Knesset and the Presidential establishment.