The Foundation for Constitutional Democracy


Policy Papers - An International Jewish Parliament

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An International Jewish Parliament Versus The Jerusalem Summit
Professor Paul Eidelberg

Back in April 1996, the newly established Foundation for Constitutional Democracy, recognizing the demoralized state of affairs in Israel, cognizant of the fragmented and inept character of Israel’s system of government, and seeing that Israel’s political elites were trapped in the impossible policy of “territory for peace”—a policy that is undermining not only Israel but even world Jewry, proposed the establishment of an International Jewish Parliament.

In publishing this proposal, the present author referred to the imminent centennial of Theodor Herzl’s The Jewish State and urged the necessity reconstructing the existing Jewish state on new foundations. As an initial step, I proposed a Conference of Zionist and other Jewish organizations in the United States and abroad for the sole purpose of establishing an International Jewish Parliament (IJP). I emphasized, however, that “Heroic efforts must be made to recruit Israelis in the Diaspora, hundreds of thousands of whom are in the United States.”

I went on to say: “After organizing itself, the Parliament should appoint a Constitutional Committee to draft a Constitution for the State of Israel.” (I had already drawn up plans for a presidential system and bicameral legislature.) The most important task of the IJP, I said, “is to restore Jewish national honor,” adding that “no political party will save Israel unless its words and deeds restore a due sense of Jewish pride rooted in the heritage of the Jewish people.”

“The IJP,” I continued, should “establish various Public Policy Committees such as Defense, Foreign Affairs, Finance, Commerce and Industry, Religion and Education, Communications and Culture, Science and Technology, etc. Each Committee will be headed by a prominent personality and staffed by experts with experience in Israel. Each Committee will formulate a professional policy paper intended for implementation in Israel….

“So far as practicable, policy papers should duly acknowledge relevant principles drawn from the tradition of the Jewish people. For example, the Finance Committee will design a free-market economy for a Jewish State modulated by Jewish ethics. The International Jewish Parliament would thus provide a programmatic, financial, and philosophical support system for any party in Israel committed to the goal of a Jewish Constitutional Democracy.…

“Any party in Israel committed to a Jewish State would surely want to cooperate with the projected International Jewish Parliament and participate in its deliberations (as Israel’s Labor party does in the Socialist International)…. This collaboration would enhance the prestige of a Jewish-oriented party in Israel and win to its support perhaps a decisive number of voters in the country’s national elections. The IJP could give rise to a Constitutional Party in Israel with extensive grass-roots support [religious and non-religious] ….

“Finally, this International Jewish Parliament for a Jewish Constitutional Democracy in Israel will foster that great Jewish synthesis, universalism and particularism. Israel will be international yet Jewish.”

Unfortunately, the Jerusalem Summit, which convened on October 12-14 at King David Hotel and included prominent personalities especially from Israel and the United States, was preoccupied with the issue of a Palestinian state. Its slogan was “Making Peace Based on Truth.” Its participants, Jews and non-Jews, deplored moral equivalence, exposed the folly of Oslo, and emphasized the impossibility of making peace with the PLO-Palestinian Authority. But there was not a single paper presented at this ostensibly right-wing conference that revealed how Israel’s flawed and fragmented system of government contributed to Oslo and to Israel’s present malaise!

Nevertheless, it is to be hoped that the organizers of the Jerusalem Summit will enlarge their intellectual horizons and realize that however important the issue of a Palestinian state may be, that issue is obscuring an even more fundamental one: the diminishing Jewish character of the State of Israel. What hardly anyone recognizes, moreover, is thatit is preciselythe divisive, decrepit, and even undemocratic character of Israel’s political and judicial institutions that is largely responsible for Israel’s declining Jewish character. Drastic reform of these institutions is not only a necessary precondition of preserving Israel as a Jewish State, but even of preventing the establishment of Palestinian state.

Hence I maintain that an International Jewish Parliament or the equivalent is necessary, and I would hope that this will be recognized by the organizers of the Jerusalem Summit.