As proud American progressives, our support for Israel is rooted in our two countries’ shared democratic and pluralistic values. These values animate Israel’s Declaration of Independence, which enshrines Israel’s sacred duty to provide “complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants.”
While our organizations do not take a position in favor of or opposition to any presidential candidate or party, our commitment to these values compels us to speak out against a shift in priorities in the U.S. and Israel that would redefine that relationship based on fear and xenophobia. Fundamentalist, far-right, and anti-democratic forces in both countries threaten the values which have undergirded the nations’ decades-long friendship — and the future of Israel’s democracy.
The 2020 US election will shape the future of the US-Israel relationship in fundamental ways. We hope all candidates for President will join us in calling out these threats to our shared democratic values and institutions, and affirm the democratic values and institutions that are the surest path to a safe and democratic future for Israel and the United States.
We encourage all candidates for president to speak clearly about the actual ongoing threats to Israel’s democratic future, namely:
- The ongoing harm of occupation: Israel’s military occupation harms millions of Palestinians who endure it, and it poses an existential threat to Israeli democracy. Israeli democracy cannot endure without bringing an end to the 52-year occupation of the Palestinian people. There is simply no possible future in which Israel maintains control over the lives of millions of Palestinians in perpetuity while remaining a democracy.
- The threat of West Bank annexation: The only feasible way of ending Israel’s occupation while allowing it to remain both a Jewish and democratic state is through a negotiated two-state agreement which addresses Palestinians’ legitimate aspirations for self-determination. But fundamentalists in the US and Israel have seized control over US policy, posing an unprecedented obstacle to peace with their effort to apply Israel’s sovereignty to West Bank settlements, threatening any possibility of a genuine, mutually agreed two-state solution.
- Concerns for the future of Israeli democracy: In light of the current existential challenges facing liberal democracies around the world, including our own, we are concerned by the rise and entrenchment of extremism and far right populism within Israel. The same forces relying on fear and mistrust of minorities that threaten to unravel the democratic fiber in the U.S. pose a threat to Israel’s democratic culture as well. These include assaults on the separation of powers, the independence of Israel’s Supreme Court, and the integrity of its elections and protections to minorities.
There is an opportunity for leadership to articulate an affirmative values-based vision for the future of the US-Israel relationship, which affirms:
** A future for a strong, free, and democratic Israel that includes an end to the 52-year occupation and that lifts up all citizens with justice, dignity and equal rights. An Israel that seeks peace, rather than further entrenching systems of occupation and inequality.
** A vision of a relationship based on strong US leadership towards a two state solution and which opposes any unilateral steps towards annexation of the West Bank which formalizes two separate and unequal legal systems for two different peoples.
**A relationship that reinforces our countries’ shared democratic values and institutions and resists the erosion of these values by xenophobic and populist movements and leaders.
The Progressive Israel Network is a coalition of the ten leading organizations representing Americans committed to pursuing democracy, equality in Israel and to peace between Israelis and Palestinians. The coalition speaks with a unified voice in support of democracy and equal rights, religious freedom and pluralism, and a two-state solution. The network’s founding members are Ameinu, Americans for Peace Now, Habonim Dror North America, Hashomer Hatzair, The Jewish Labor Committee, J Street, The New Israel Fund, Partners for Progressive Israel, Reconstructing Judaism, and T’ruah.
Our full statement of principles can be found here.