Jewish Pluralism Watch
Monitoring the Knesset, Jewish Pluralism Watch insures that all Jews are fully recognized, that Masorti rabbis are accorded full legal status and that Jews by Choice are recognized as fully Jewish and that Masorti congregations receive proportionate and fair funding from the state.
The Knesset (Israeli Parliament) is the institution that sets the legal and regulatory framework for civil society. Masorti established Jewish Pluralism Watch, a non-partisan institute to monitor, interpret and publicize the positions, statements, and voting records of Knesset members and other elected officials on all issues related to democracy, religion and the state.
JPW focuses on transparency and accountability of Knesset members’ voting records and public activities regarding values of democracy and fairness.
LATEST NEWS FROM JEWISH PLURALISM WATCH (JPW)
News from the week of May 21st, 2017
Two topics of interest to Masorti (and all Jews committed to full equality of observance in Israel) arose just prior to the Shavuot holiday.
MKs Moshe Gafni and Uri Maklev (United Torah Judaism) proposed a bill which would grant Rabbinical Courts the authority to serve as arbitrators in civil as well as religious matters. The Ministerial Committee on Legislation approved it and it will soon be discussed by the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee. The bill expands the authority of the Rabbinical Court, in which women do not serve as judges or in any senior positions. The bill requires the consent of the parties to hold their arbitration proceedings in the Rabbinical Court. There is, however, concern about intrinsic discrimination in the Rabbinical Courts towards the non-orthodox.
In another development, MK Eliezer Moses (United Torah Judaism) and MK Bezalel Smotrich (Jewish Home), support the Chief Rabbinate’s opposition to the implementation of the Western Wall Agreement, which would create an egalitarian prayer space at Azarat Yisrael. These MKs have asked for expedited debate on the differing positions of the Attorney General and that of the Chief Rabbinate. MKs Moses and Smotrich are demanding that the Knesset’s Constitution Committee convene and discuss allowing the Chief Rabbinate to represent itself in the Supreme Court of Justice.
News from the week of November 14, 2016
The Western Wall Agreement
The Kotel agreement challenge remained on the Knesset’s agenda. Prime Minister Netanyahu once again confirmed his commitment to the leadership of North American Jewry that the compromise agreement would be implemented. He spoke, however, of the difficulty involved, comparing it to the challenges of the gas agreement. In Jerusalem, a motion of No-Confidence was submitted by an MK from the Zionist Camp followed by a motion by a Likud Minister on behalf of the government. So the struggle continues…
The “Muezzin” Bill
The Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved a bill from MK members from the Jewish Home and Israel Beiteinu parties prohibiting the use of public address systems from houses of worship, garnering it the nickname The “Muezzin” Bill, since it targets the minarets in mosques from which the Muslim call to prayer is broadcast. The bill has thus raised considerable controvsery and consternation from many constituencies.
GETS…some good news!
The State Attorney’s Office will consider prosecuting recalcitrant husbands who refuse to provide a get (Jewish writ of divorce) despite being obligated to do so by rabbinical courts. This decision is a small step on behalf of women who have been refused a divorce and are therefore unable to remarry. It’s a powerful reminder of the need to address the root problem of women’s status and freedom.
BACKGROUND & HISTORY read more...
Theodore Herzl, the founder of Zionism, articulated four pillars of Zionism. One was the establishment of a healthy, vibrant democracy. That democracy is being challenged today by an extremism that permeates all aspects of Israeli society.
Why is that so? Because Israel’s democracy is predicated on a parliamentary system of party-based coalition governments, allowing small parties to gain disproportionate power over legislative and governmental decisions.
This has been the case with Haredi parties which have, since the 1970’s, used their position as the “swing vote” in elections to pass legislation that limits basic civil rights and attacks the fundamental principles of a democratic society.
Recent surveys indicate a growing majority of Israelis support profound changes regarding the long–accepted official Orthodox monopoly on religious practice and other threats to a free-choice, equality-based democratic society. Major demonstrations regarding the use and nature of public spaces in Jerusalem, against separation lines, against discriminatory conscription laws and supporting the role of women in the public sphere, have brought together a broad cross section of Zionist society.
JEWISH PLURALISM WATCH GOALS read more...
Develop a system that tracks attitudes and actions of elected officials and candidates for public office regarding the core issues of democracy, religion and state.
Increase the general electorate’s involvement in, and influence on, the political system (use democracy to save democracy).
Enable the Israeli public to make informed votes and demands of MKs regarding democracy and religion and state.
To enrich the public discourse about democracy, religion, and state at the grassroots and national media levels.
JEWISH PLURALISM WATCH ACTIVITIES read more...
An annual survey of MKs’ positions on religion and state.
Gathering and organizing information on MKs’ voting records, statements, proposals for legislation and other activities related to the values of democracy and fairness.
Issuing an annual “Knesset Report Card” and disseminating it to the public and media.
Establishing an interactive website and social media platform through which each MK’s voting, parliamentary activity and positions will be published on an ongoing basis.
Coordinating open meetings of the electorate with MKs and government officials about democracy and fairness.
Cooperating with other organizations and groups working on related issues.