Fifty-eight years after its founding, the Knesset (parliament) of the State of Israel will try to complete the job of drafting a constitution. One of the most difficult aspects of this will be dealing with many issues related to Israel’s future identity as a state that is both Jewish and democratic. In the draft constitution, religious parties objected to the failure to entrench the Orthodox rabbinate’s monopoly on marriage, divorce and burial of Israeli Jews. Secular Jews objected that there were not clear provisions for breaking the Orthodox monopoly on decisions regarding commerce and transportation restrictions on Shabbat. Arab parties refused to accept the formalization of Israel’s identity and immigration policy which favors Jews.
The only hope for a unified, equitable and pluralistic society in Israel is the adoption of a constitution which guarantees civil rights for all Israeli citizens, including freedom of religion and freedom from religious coercion.
The Israeli Declaration of Independence promises that: “the Stare of Israel will maintain complete social and political equality for all its citizens, without distinction on the grounds of religion, race or sex.” This is a requisite of the Jewish and democratic character of the state and is a function of u1e principle of the rule of law.
Therefore, Women’s League for Conservative Judaism urges the adoption of a constitution which provides for full equal rights for all Israeli citizens: men, women, all Jews, Arabs, and people of all faiths.
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