Editor-in-Chief of the Jerusalem Post Avi Mayer and Member for Macnamara Josh Burns MP addressed the Zionist Federation of Australia’s Executive meeting on Monday 25 July.
The meeting was held the day after the Israeli Knesset passed the first major judicial overhaul law, about the reasonableness test. (The ZFA’s statement on that law is here.)
In his talk, Mr Mayer discussed the recent Israeli judicial overhaul and the way in which it has affected Israeli society, the Israeli leadership and communities in the Diaspora.
He said, “It’s been quite unsettling to be in Israel during this period. It has felt, largely, to many, that the country is sort of at war with itself… Members of the coalition are largely right wing, many of them are religious and many of them hold views that are at odds with secular Israel and supporters of Israel around the world.”
Mr Mayer continued, “There are concerns about whether the perception that Israel is controlled by ‘extremists’ will have an impact on Israel’s ties with the Abraham Accords countries, whether it will impact the ability of Israel to widen the circle of the Abraham Accords.”
“Ultimately”, Mr Mayer said, “many issues that are discussed in Israeli society, even if they don’t directly relate to the judicial reforms, will be impacted by it because the government will have the ability to push forward certain policy agendas that, up until now, the courts would have taken issue with.”
“Now is the time for those of us who are concerned with the future of Israel, and want to ensure that it’s a country that continues to represent our finest values as Jews and as people who support democracy, to make our voices heard”.
Following the discussion, ZFA President Jeremy Leibler said, “I hope for all of our sake, whatever happens with these proposals, the division amongst the Jewish people is not something that stays with us forever, and that we are able to rebuild and reconnect when we are passed this very difficult period.”
Josh Burns answered questions about next month’s ALP national conference.