The Zehut Platform Summary
The document in your hands is much more than a party platform. It is a Jewish vision and a message of national liberty of historic proportions. This is the first time that the Jewish majority of Zionism (mistakenly called “the right wing” or “the national camp”) stops saying who it is not, and what it opposes – and starts saying who and what it is, and what it actually wants and proposes!
This is the first time that “Jews” are answering “Israelis.” It is the start of the deconstruction of the barriers between those concepts. Without those barriers, all parts of Israeli society will easily connect to our identity, rather than constantly fleeing it.
“We hereby declare the establishment of a Jewish state in Israel,” Ben-Gurion declared, but translating these words into a comprehensive policy actually stopped with the Law of Return. In the first 70 years of the state, we got along with religion, but we did not struggle with the challenge of Jewish identity. We preferred to replace the sense of mission and justice arising from our identity with the existence and pragmatism that supposedly do not depend upon it.
Every VIP who lands on our shores is immediately whisked off to Yad Vashem, a visit after which no one dares ask any questions. Yad Vashem has become the “Temple” of the state of the Jews. But today, when the last of the survivors and the last of the executioners are dying, Yad Vashem no longer does the job.
Israel, cut off from its very nature and purpose, is defined in the eyes of the western intelligentsia – as a mistake. The children of the survivors are considered “the new Nazis.” The conquests of 1967 do not constitute the problem for them, but rather the original sin of the Balfour Declaration and the establishment of an arm of Western colonialism on the indigenous land of “Palestine.”
“For me, Israel is a state of all its citizens,” said Aharon Barak, Chief Justice of the High Court, explaining the policy he implemented during his tenure. In other words, the Jewish state through whose gates a Jew entered by the power of the Law of Return – ends there, at the gate. From that point on, a state of all its citizens begins.
We did not establish the “Jewish State”, but rather – the “State of the Jews”, sanctified by Yad Vashem. Paradoxically, in tandem with the increase in its economic and military strength, Israel continues to lose its right to exist in the eyes of the nations.
One hundred years after the Balfour Declaration, almost seventy years since the establishment of the state and fifty years since the liberation of Jerusalem – the Zehut manifesto begins to chart a direction. It shows how Israel can make peace with itself, connect to its identity and nature, and begin to conduct itself like a Jewish state of liberty. This will enable its spiritual message to develop freely – towards a universal vision of Tikkun Olam (perfecting the world).
This platform is not written in stone. Writing of the manifesto began as a document of principles, which was presented to a staff of intellectuals, members of Zehut – a staff that represented all shades of Israeli society proportionally. The dialogue that was created between “religious” and “secular” within the staff of writers produced not only compromise, but something entirely new – a type of authentic Judaism that holds the past and the future together. There are no words to adequately thank those involved in this sacred work, especially – Eliahu Ben-Asher, Tomer Rezhekovski and Uri Noy.
Such a document, by its nature – is only the beginning. It can not and should not be error-free. In fact, it must always continue to be written and improved.
What makes it a historical document is not necessarily the solutions it brings. Instead, it is the daring to articulate them in the framework of an overall policy with well-defined strategic objectives as the platform of a political instrument. The Zehut Party is the instrument for leading the state and implementing these things in practice.
I invite you – dear readers – not only to read the Zehut manifesto of identity and to enrich us with your comments, but to draw inspiration from it and add chapters of your own,
From the place where it meets you –
The Jewish State.
To perfect the world in the Kingdom of the Almighty,
Shevat 5777, February 2017
· The Land of Israel has been transformed from a barren, practically desolate land to a Land flowing with milk and honey. It has also become a world hub of science and progress. The Nation of Israel has received a third opportunity to fulfill its destiny.
· The State of Israel was established so that we could maintain a thriving, exemplary society; a society that will not only benefit the Jewish People, but will be a model for all of humanity – to learn from it and be blessed by it.
· We are referring to a sovereign, Jewish, moral, civilized, thriving, advanced and secure state. We are proposing a life in which no person will ever be subservient to another person: a life in which we are all truly free.
· We cling to our Land and strive for the absolute minimal interference of the state in the lives of the individual. We seek a state of liberty that conducts itself in keeping with Jewish culture and morals.
Part One – Guidelines
Principles: Liberty, Identity, Meaning
Liberty: Human liberty is central and basic to the message of the People of Israel to the entire world.
Identity: Our national identity is founded on the fact that we are sons and daughters of the historic People of Israel, the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Meaning: The meaning of our return as a sovereign nation to the Land of Israel is the ability to bequeath to the world the message of freedom for all of humanity until the perfection of the world under the Kingdom of Heaven.
A Jewish State – A state that matures from Zionism of existence to Zionism of destiny; from survival mentality to the mentality and challenge of perfection of the world.
A Liberty State – A state that restores responsibility to the citizen and reduces its involvement in private lives to a minimum.
A State of Family and Community – A state that fortifies family values and encourages community.
A State of Abundance - A state that maintains an open economy within the restraining framework of the Jewish culture of kindness and mutual responsibility.
A Sovereign State – A state that actualizes and fortifies its sovereignty in all parts of the Land of Israel under its control: first and foremost, Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. A state that develops Jerusalem as a diplomatic and spiritual center for the Nation of Israel and for all humanity.
A State of Peace – A state that strives to end warfare and bloodshed by defeating its enemies.
Caution and Responsibility: Cautious and responsible implementation of programs and changes, while consulting with experts in all relevant fields. The highest priority will be given to preventing any unnecessary, negative repercussions to the general population, in whole or in part.
Responsibility and Liberty: Reduction of state interference in the citizen's civil, cultural, economic and social lives. Transfer of that responsibility to the individual and to Israeli society.
Sovereignty and Liberty: The state's determined stance for equality under the law and its enforcement, and exercise of its sovereignty in all areas under its jurisdiction - is a necessary condition for true liberty.
Economic Freedom: Greater economic freedom in the country and reduction of government interference. Only true economic freedom will lead to the realization of the potential talent, industriousness and Israeli initiative for the benefit of all.
Communities: Zehut's programs are based on the growth and emergence of communities that are independent and empowered. Communal space is where personal and group identity are expressed, thrive and flourish based on choice and freedom.
State of Jewish Liberty: Comprehensive reduction and elimination of religious and secular coercion on the lifestyle of the individual, while simultaneously increasing government expression of the state as a Jewish state. In short, this is the exact opposite of the "status quo": The state is more Jewish. The citizens enjoy more freedom.
The Land of Israel – the Bedrock of our Identity: An attitude of love, loyalty, responsibility and sovereignty towards all parts of the Land in our possession. Respect for the landscape, heritage, air, springs, lakes, rivers and also for the natural resources that are still being discovered. We must build the country and not leave it desolate.
Faith in the Nation of Israel: Zehut's solutions are rooted in belief in the power of the Nation of Israel, its goodness and willingness to take responsibility and to succeed in all the challenges ahead.
Faith-Based Leadership: Experience has shown that a perspective on reality that leaves room for the Master of the World, as He and His ways are recognized by Judaism, is the most direct, relevant and correct geopolitical perspective on reality. Constant ignoring of Him is underlies the series of resounding diplomatic failures over the past fifty years.
The Structure of the Government and its Reduction
The Reduction of Government Ministries
"Government is not the solution - it is the problem" (Ronald Reagan).
Aspiration: As small a government as possible. Governance and maintaining liberty with a government apparatus that is simple, efficient and not cumbersome.
• Currently: There are 29 government ministries, run by 23 ministers and 8 deputy ministers. Besides the economic cost, this creates problems of governance, excessive interference and reduced liberty.
• The solution: A government comprised of 11 ministerial positions (including the Prime Minister).
• The Gain: Governance, efficiency, freedom, reduced expenses.
Opposition to Excessive Legislation
• The state should interfere less and leave the citizens with as much freedom as possible.
• Legislators should consider the significant cost of implementation and enforcement of new laws.
The Community Model: Restoring Power to Communities
• From the bottom up; not vice versa: We believe that the national identity of the People of Israel should grow naturally from the bottom – from the individuals who make up the nation – and should not be dictated from above by the government.
• Local municipalities will be divided into small and homogeneous communities and some of the powers of state and local authorities will be decentralized and transferred to these local communities.
• The community model will allow communities to enact community bylaws, in the same manner currently employed by local authorities to legislate municipal bylaws. They will also be enforced in the same way.
• The local community will determine, among other things, bylaws regarding the public nature of the Sabbath within its boundaries.
The Legal System: From Sovereignty of the People to “the Rule of Law” – and Back
The Rise of Judicial Activism: In 1992, the "constitutional revolution", which provided the Court with a broad platform for judicial interpretation, was completed. This revolution allowed the court gross interference with other governmental authorities, including the disqualification of laws passed by the Knesset.
Zehut's Policy – Zehut will restore the sovereignty of the people:
• There is no place for the interference of the court on substantial public issues and issues of a political or security nature.
• The High Court (or any other judicial tribunal) will not be allowed to nullify a law passed by the Knesset.
• Judges will be appointed by the Knesset Members, and not by themselves.
The principle of standing will be restored, and use of the reasonability test and activist interpretation will be limited by law.
The Attorney General
• The roles of Attorney General and State Prosecutor will be split, no longer to be held by the same person.
The government will be entitled to appoint an attorney to represent it in court, and will be entitled to appoint and dismiss its legal adviser.
• The Attorney General's term will end at the end of the tenure of the government.
• Elected officials will not be obligated to abide by the advice of the legal adviser.
The status of Jewish law in a parallel civil court system will be detailed later
The Social Program
Parents want the best for their children more than any other party. They know what is in the best interests of their children better than any government-bureaucratic system.
Today, by law, the Education Minister is responsible for the education of our children and not we – the parents.
• The national expenditure on education is currently NIS 86 billion a year – more than the defense budget!
• This amounts to NIS 2,483 per student per month, including the summer months.
• The education that Israeli students receive does not justify this investment.
The Voucher system
• A method combining public funding and free competition. Parents will receive a voucher with monetary value from the Ministry of Education. The parents will be able to redeem the voucher at the school of their choice, thus financing each child's education.
• Schools will adapt to the needs of students and their parents – not to government requirements.
• Schools will compete for the vouchers. The result will be a wide range of choices in education and improvement in the level of general education.
• A similar process has been implemented in Sweden and Finland, where the method has been tested in practice.
What will schools be like when the voucher system is implemented?
• The Ministry of Education’s authority and mechanisms will be significantly reduced.
• The vast majority of the education budget will be devoted to direct spending on education of students through the vouchers.
A similar system already works in Israel
• Hospital maternity wards have become "five-star hotels" since the decision on where to give birth has been left to the expectant mothers. Hospitals now compete for expectant mothers and their vouchers, which has significantly improved conditions in maternity wards.
Reducing core requirements
• Considerable reduction of the core curriculum, restricting it to areas needed to be a graduate with the ability to function properly in Israel: Hebrew, mathematics and English.
The school year
• Schools will determine the holiday calendar autonomously, and will be able to synchronize much better with work holidays – as is done in the United States.
• The official school year will begin according to the Jewish calendar – on the first of Elul. This is both a moral statement of pride in Israel's Jewish heritage and a response to the logistical problems of mixed calendars and school vacation days that close schools so often at the beginning of the year.
More professional - less compulsory
• Reduction of the compulsory education law up to 10th grade. After 10th grade, parents and students will be able to choose between professional training classes in 11th and 12th grades, or continuing on to an introduction to academic studies. This will reduce or even eliminate the need for matriculation and psychometric exams.
• Parents have the right to raise their children according to their beliefs. This runs contrary to the current education system, which makes it difficult for parents to educate their children at home.
Free is not compulsory
• Elimination of the compulsory component of the Free Compulsory Education Law from age 3 – and enabling parents to raise their children up to the age of kindergarten in accordance with their worldview and educational preferences.
Rehabilitation of family status
• Preservation of the strength of the family unit is a primary social and national task.
• In cases where the family unit is dissolved, Zehut will act to make the state a body that resolves disputes rather than encourages them.
• Zehut will promote the concept of shared parental responsibility for children of divorced parents and carrying the burden of raising them, affording both sides equal and fair treatment, both in the division of common property and raising children.
Among the measures to strengthen the independence of the family unit:
• Allowing parents to teach their children to drive, which will give parents the opportunity to transmit this vital skill to their children and to educate them to adopt the culture and values that accompany it.
• Adoption of the flat tax system (including the elimination of tax brackets) which will allow couples the fundamental freedom to divide their income between them as they see fit.
The conduct of the courts at the time of the dissolution of the family unit
• The state must act as a mediator and arbitrator in this process, encouraging partnership in raising the couple's children and not creating incentives to exacerbate the dispute and prolong the legal proceedings.
Some of the measures Zehut will take in a painful breakup of the family unit:
• Elimination of the Automatic Maternal Custody in Early Childhood clause, in accordance with the recommendations of the Schnitt Committee.
• Adoption of a formula fixed by law that will calculate the rate of financial support for the child. The rate of support will be determined by the income of the parents and by the time devoted to child care.
• Review of laws and work practices of the Family Courts.
• Currently, the prosecution and the police have refrained from criminal investigation and prosecution in cases of false complaints.
• Zehut will formulate procedures so that suspicion of a false complaint will be grounds for a criminal investigation.
Calculation of child support by a fixed and equitable formula
• Under current law, the economic burden of child support falls almost entirely on the father.
• This law does not sufficiently take into account the time the children spend with their father or the mother's financial situation. It is inequitable and irrelevant to today's reality. Zehut will act to revise the law.
• Zehut proposes regulation and review of the work of social workers for legal procedures.
• Zehut proposes a thorough review of the Family Court.
Social Security and Welfare System
• The National Insurance Institute (NII, or Bituach Leumi) is a cumbersome and inefficient mechanism. Many of its functions do not need to be performed by the state.
• The NII provides long-term care insurance and work disability insurance – basic insurance services that can be purchased from almost any insurance company.
• The NII accumulates deficits that ensure that it will eventually collapse. The reasons for this: lack of fiscal accountability, inefficiency, mismanagement, and unjustified payments.
• Zehut proposes a plan to gradually reduce the responsibilities of the NII, employing the efficient and competitive mechanism of the free market.
Reduction of the authority of National Insurance will lower insurance rates
• Just as the state does not have to bake bread to ensure that bread will be on grocery shelves, so it does not have to provide its own insurance products to ensure that they will be available to the Israeli public
• Basic insurance is a product that the private market can provide by itself. In fact, private insurance companies already do so successfully and efficiently, more effectively and with higher quality than a government-owned company.
• Zehut will gradually reduce the country's insurance services. Insurance against work disability, long-term care insurance and disability insurance are policies that exist in the private market.
• The State will gradually stop these services and will refer the public to private purchase.
• The reduction in national insurance services will cause a significant reduction in insurance premiums.
The public will be required to take out insurance coverage. Every Israeli will be obligated to take out minimal insurance coverage. Employers will be obligated to purchase insurance for their employees against work accidents.
A person entitled to a pension will continue to receive it. The state, like any other insuring party, cannot renounce the monetary claims of its policyholders.
Innovation and efficiency in the welfare system
• Welfare fraud prevention: Zehut will investigate methods for reducing the payment of unjustified benefits by the welfare system.
• Taking advantage of earning potential and avoiding the "Welfare Trap" – Avoiding the situation in which the welfare program creates an economic incentive for recipients to continue their dependence on welfare and not maximize their earning potential.
• Alternative welfare systems. Zehut will investigate methods in which alternative welfare systems – municipal, community and others – can fulfill some of the functions of the national welfare system in parallel with it.
The War on Traffic Accidents – Restoring the dimension of responsibility to Israel's drivers
• Zehut will act in light of the Jewish principle of the "unintentional killer”, whereby a person is responsible for the consequences of his actions and not only his intentions.
• The goal is to maintain fully adequate insurance coverage for victims, and at the same time to restore full responsibility to drivers and to create a different driving culture in Israel.
• Transportation Ministry experts have determined seven offenses that are based upon conscious aggression on the road (such as passing over a white line).
• If a third party is injured due to the offense, the insurance company will compensate the victim as is done today. However, the insurance company may then sue the offending driver for the full amount paid to the victim.
•When the public becomes aware of the high cost of damages that reckless drivers are obligated to pay to an injured third party, often for the rest of their lives, the driving culture in Israel will rapidly change.
Health Care: Background: The system is ill
According to Israel's media, its healthcare system is considered one of the best public health systems in the world. Professionals know this is far from reality (in any area not related to the high professional level of the doctors).
• In 2011, about 40% of total national health expenditure came from private spending. Taking into account informal private expenses, then the source of at least half of the national expenditure on health is private.
• Privatization is a necessity, both because of the long wait for testing, treatment and surgery and because of the shortage of hospital beds and the improvised solutions for this lack.
Our goal in health care: Allow for the transparent, efficient and free purchase of private health care in a variety of qualities and prices. At the same time – streamline existing hospitals through free market competition, with a commitment not to harm the level of current prices and services.
The Zehut health solution
Hospitals will be privatized in an open tender process. HMOs (Kupot Cholim) and the government will not be allowed to own hospitals.
The developers who purchase the hospitals will have to commit to a long term contract to maintain the current price level and not to reduce the medical services of the hospitals that they purchased.
• HMOs will purchase services from private hospitals for their policyholders in the same manner and cost at which they purchased the services from state-owned hospitals.
• Private hospitals will be allowed to engage in medical tourism and private surgeries and will be able to devote a fixed percentage of beds and working hours of doctors and medical staff for this purpose.
• The anticipated increase in salaries for talented doctors will encourage them to remain and work in the country and will encourage immigration of doctors and medical staff to Israel.
• Each developer will receive the right to establish a hotel and shopping center next to the hospital under the same license. These will provide another source of income in addition to the direct income from HMOs and private operations.
• The procedure for the construction of new private hospitals will be eased.
• The opening of the health market to competition will attract foreign developers and investors from around the world and will create new jobs. It should provide an incentive for Jewish doctors and medical professionals to move to Israel and settle here.
• The proposed reform focuses mainly on hospitals. This reform will leave the HMOs in their present structure for the time being and will not change health insurance premium payments.
• The reform is expected to immediately bring the state treasury tens of billions of shekels from the sale of government hospitals to developers. It will contribute to the economy through the development of health tourism and private medicine and will save the state hundreds of millions in annual deficits.
Removal of restrictions on treatment with medical cannabis
• Many studies have shown that cannabis use is useful in treating severe symptoms such as pain, depression and loss of appetite. Despite this, there are exceptional limitations on the use of medical cannabis in Israel.
• Today: Treatment with medical cannabis is permitted for only a very limited number of diseases and medical conditions.
• The limitations are not for medical purposes. They exist only to prevent the leakage of the drug to the private sector.
• Zehut will eliminate the Medical Cannabis Unit and the list of diseases for which medical cannabis is approved.
• Permission for use will be provided by the attending physician at his sole discretion.
Allowing export of medical cannabis
• Israel is home to companies that grow medical cannabis. These companies are known worldwide for their unique knowledge and skills.
• Export will enable these companies to invest in research and development, generate tax revenues for the State of Israel and will answer the medical needs of millions of patients worldwide.
• Zehut will allow growers to export cannabis for medical purposes, according to the law in the target countries and the international conventions signed with Israel.
• The state should allow anyone to express anything that he is allowed to legally express by any means that he can.
• Media must be free of arbitrary restrictions and state interference as a necessary condition for freedom of expression.
• Today, the Israeli media is not free media. A franchise is required in order to broadcast on the radio. Authorization from the Second Television and Radio Authority is a prerequisite.The Second Television and Radio Authority is prepared to grant franchises only to those who agree to uphold a long list of ethical and cultural dictates applying to the broadcast content. We believe that there is no place for such an entity in a free country.
• Zehut will act to free private media organs from the severe limitations imposed upon them, promote free communication and protect freedom of expression.
Free and open broadcasting for all
• Technological means will be employed to increase the number of transmitting frequencies, enabling more Israelis to exercise their freedom of expression over the airwaves.
• The broadcast will be by license - not franchise. The franchise method will be eliminated. The right to use frequency bands will be leased for a period of four years to the highest bidder by auction.
• The only condition for holding the license, besides meeting the financial obligations, will be not publishing content prohibited by law.
• Most of the functions of the Second Television and Radio Authority will be eliminated. The Second Authority will deal exclusively in the distribution of broadcasting frequencies and licenses to entrepreneurs who win the auction, and the collection of funds from the winning entrepreneurs.
• Zehut opposes any bill that imposes restrictions on the press or harms the free press in any way, such as the "Israel Today" bill.
Closure of media outlets belonging to the state
• The state should be a tool to express the identity of the citizens – and not to dictate it. The state should not be allowed to own media outlets.
• Zehut will work for the closure or privatization of all state-owned media organizations; the broadcasting corporation, Israel Army Radio, Galgalatz, Israel Radio and military journals.
Part Four: Judaism, Culture and State
Introduction and guidelines: Judaism and the state – Separation in order to achieve connection.
Cultural coercion and its dangers
• Cultural, religious and secular coercion make it difficult for different parts of Israeli society to live side by side.
• Because the state interferes in culture through legislation and funding, those wishing to protect their culture and way of life from coercion are forced to impose their way of life on the other.
• Cultural coercion puts the various sectors of society on the defensive, forcing them to focus on those unlike them. Elimination of cultural coercion will allow us to pay attention to our common ground, to exchange ideas and formulate a common identity.
Culture is born of liberty – not through legislation
• For example, the existing law prohibiting the sale of chametz is not enforced and many businesses sell chametz as they please.
• Another example – for decades, the State of Israel, funded by taxpayers, has financed artists whose work has nothing in common with the culture of the vast majority of the public. The general public feels discriminated against culturally, but is not changing its views to suit those of the art establishment.
• In contrast, Israel has no law requiring Jews to circumcise their sons – and yet an absolute majority gladly performs Jewish circumcision. Circumcision is seen not as part of a "religion", but as part of our common identity – by choice and without any coercion.
Separating religion from the state in order to allow connection
• Separation of things that are currently connected in a corrupt manner in order to reconnect in a complete, true and more moral manner – is our perspective with respect to Israel, its culture and Jewishness.
Not a "State of All its Citizens"
• The State of Israel will not be a "state of all its citizens". Israel was established to be the state of the Jewish People, and it should express the values, culture, aspirations and destiny of the Jewish People worldwide.
• The nature of the country should be expressed by its symbols and the conduct of its institutions; not by interfering in the lives of its citizens and violating their individual freedom.
The opposite of the status quo
• A citizen's lifestyle, observance of Sabbath, marriage, eating, culture, education and religion – are private affairs, and state interference in them must be minimized.
• In contrast, the official image of the country: law, economics, ethics of war, foreign policy, internal affairs, ingathering of the exiles and conversion, approach to the Land of Israel, the nation's official language and the conduct of its official institutions – these are the arena in which the Jewishness of the state as a state should be expressed.
The State of Israel and its institutions: Commitment of government institutions to Jewish law
• With the same certainty that we require the Knesset cafeteria food to be kosher, we also demand that the choice of whether to provide kosher food for business employees will be up to the business owner.
• The question of the public nature of the Sabbath will remain in the hands of local communities – each community according to its own choice.
The Israel Defense Forces: lifestyle
• As part of military service, the right to maintain a lifestyle that is faithful to Jewish law without suffering ill results because of it will be guaranteed by the army, as the army of a Jewish state.
Education Corps and Jewish consciousness
• In recent years, the army has become the hottest battlefield in Israel between secularization trends and trends of return to observant Judaism. The army is not a place for mandatory workshops on democracy, pluralism and equality, as is the case today, and also not for mandatory participation in repentance gatherings, as it has been in the past.
• The role of the IDF's Education Corps is to boost the fighting spirit and instill the rules of moral warfare within the soldiers. That is all.
Mixed-gender army units
• The role of the IDF is to win wars and to safeguard the security of the State of Israel. Its role is not to serve as a melting pot or human laboratory.
• The criterion by which to test the actual suitability of women for combat is strictly operational.
• Women will be included in every possible military role, as long as it is operationally beneficial, while maintaining the basic conditions of modesty necessary for male and female soldiers.
• There is no reason to require a soldier to hear women sing, and there is no justification for requiring male and female soldiers to serve in mixed units that do not make it possible to maintain minimal conditions of modesty.
• As long as the entire Jewish population is expected to mobilize, including the ultra-Orthodox population, there must be an option for those interested in units in which there will not be any mixing between men and women.
Fewer Government Companies – Less Coercion
• Public transportation companies, subsidized by the state, are closed on Shabbat – as required by their state status. This impairs the mobility of those who are interested in their services on Shabbat. When these companies become private companies, the question of their operation on Shabbat will be subject to the preference of the local communities and to the demand for the transportation services they offer.
Conversion and the Law of Return – completing the process of Ingathering of the Exiles
National conversion according to Jewish law
• The State of Israel was not established solely for those Jews who were in the Land of Israel at that time, but for the entire Jewish people. One might say that the State of Israel was established for the Law of Return.
• Therefore, there must be a close connection between the question of who is a Jew and the State Law of Return. Conversion, which qualifies the convert to make Aliyah to the Land of Israel and to receive Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return, has to be implemented according to the accepted Jewish Law among the People of Israel – by courts authorized by the Chief Rabbinate.
Who is entitled to make aliyah – An update of the Law of Return
• In the past, the "working assumption" was that a non-Jew who wishes to convert is probably an idealist, because living as a Jew is much more difficult than living as a non-Jew.
• Today: The State of Israel is a prosperous and progressive state, which makes it an attractive migration destination, favored by people from all over the world, especially places where there was an assimilated Jewish population.
• Many non-Jewish immigrants to Israel today come as migrant workers to improve their quality of life. We must refer to this situation as immigration, rather than as a continuation of the process of ingathering of the exiles, through the proposed amendment below
The proposed amendment – reducing the gap between the Law of Return and Jewish law
• Only a Jew according to Jewish law will be entitled to Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return, along with his wife and minor children.
• The right to make Aliyah will be granted to Jews according to Jewish law, along with their spouses, parents and children (even if they are not considered Jewish according to Jewish law) but not to their grandchildren.
• The status of adult children who are not Jewish according to Jewish law who choose to immigrate to Israel will be permanent residency.
The Hebrew Judicial System – an Identity-Based alternative
• Zehut will act for the practical revival of Hebrew law in its entirety, as a civil judgment alternative, parallel to existing civil law.
• This system will enjoy full recognition of the State for those who choose to use it.
The actual situation and the Arbitration Compromise
• To date, Hebrew law as a whole has no defined status in Israel. Despite the fact that Hebrew law is an essential part of our National Jewish identity, Jewish courts can be used now only as arbitrators, on an equal footing to any other arbitration body.
Jewish state court and the Jewish State
• Zehut believes that the hidden treasures of Hebrew law must be granted official legal status in the State of Israel, in the form of alternative governmental courts, which judge according to Hebrew law.
• The jurisdiction of the Hebrew law courts will cover only civil law, and will not include criminal law.
Complete absence of coercion:
Hebrew law tribunals authorized by the State will be allowed to meet only in cases where both sides explicitly wish to turn to the Hebrew judicial system.
• The Hebrew Court's rulings will be binding under the laws of the State of Israel just as the ruling of the civil court is binding.
Identity and independence in culture:
The vision: Independent spiritual and cultural flourishing
• Culture should not be financed through a forced tax on the public. This is an immoral position. The State must not interfere in matters of culture and religion – neither in funding nor in setting directions.
• We want to see cultural creativity that is rooted in the people, who ask for it, use it and express themselves through it.
• If an artist desires to express his creativity, he may do so with his own funds or the funds of his benefactors and supporters, but not from public funds.
• The same applies to religion and tradition, and indeed, religion is part of culture, and culture is part of religion, especially for the People of Israel.
The Current Situation
• In the State of Israel, funding of cultural activities from local and national tax income is a given. Those who oppose it are denounced as enemies of culture. This is not the truth, and is not the opinion of the Zehut party.
• In Zehut's eyes, actors from the Habimah ensemble should not perform in Ariel if they do not want to, but Ariel's citizens should not have to pay for Habimah's activities from their own pockets.
• Zehut stands for the simple truth: freedom of conscience of a free, avant-garde, revolutionary work of art conflicts with government funding in a completely intrinsic manner.
Full cultural independence
• Culture can often be a successful business in its own right (the Harry Potter books did not need government funding). Cultural activity can pay for itself through sales or donations from supporters. However, Zehut is not opposed to organized culture at the municipal level, as follows:
The Zehut outline for culture and its financing: Closing the Ministry of Culture
• The Ministry of Culture will be closed gradually, along with most or all of the direct national government interference in culture, its finance and direction. Funding of culture by taxes will be at the municipal and neighborhood level, rather than the state level.
Financing urban culture through an optional tax
• The Zehut party plan is to separate culture and religion taxes from general municipal taxes, and to make them an optional tax. Zehut stands firm about the right of citizens not to fund cultural activities and values which they are not interested in.
• It will be prohibited by law for public bodies to fund cultural institutions from funds that are not from the optional tax or private donations. Proceeds from the optional tax may be used only for culture.
Chief Rabbinate of Israel
A continual process of erosion of the public legitimacy of the Chief Rabbinate is taking place in Israel. This is first and foremost because the Chief Rabbinate is a government tool for coercion of lifestyles – both for secular and for religious Israelis.
• Zehut believes that the Chief Rabbinate must be reduced significantly to engagement in public issues only , and to really be "the rabbinate of the government and state institutions".
Changing roles of the Chief Rabbinate: From Kashrut monopoly to standard
• As it stands, Israel owns the word "kosher": The law prohibits calling a product "kosher", unless it is recognized as kosher by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, or an authorized local rabbinate that has been empowered to grant kosher certification.
• This situation has led to corruption. Also, the very fact that the kashrut system is a monopoly leads to inflated prices.
• Zehut believes that the kashrut system no longer be the monopoly of the Chief and local rabbinates.
• Instead of the monopolistic kashrut system, a "kosher standard" of the Chief Rabbinate will be instituted. The Kosher Standard will not engage in supervision of kosher products, but rather in their ingredients and the manner of their preparation.
• Anyone wishing to advertise his products as kosher will be obliged to indicate whether the kosher status conforms to the rabbinate’s standard, regardless of who is supplying kosher supervision.
• Fraud relating to the kosher standard will be a cause for legal suit against the advertiser's business, and will result in strict penalties as in any case of a business defrauding customers.
• Restriction on the import of non-kosher food to Israel, where it exists, will be removed. Instead, a reporting requirement for conformance with the rabbinate kosher standard on products that define themselves as "kosher" will be introduced.
• If it turns out that the product was not kosher, financial responsibility will be charged to the importer – not to the foreign manufacturer.
• This will ensure that the importer buys from reliable suppliers in the field of kashrut, whose products have been approved by local rabbinates in their countries of origin.
Registration and performance of marriage ceremonies for those interested
• With the elimination of marriage registration (see below), it will no longer be necessary to come into contact with the Chief and local Rabbinates for marriage. Those interested may continue to use the services of the rabbinate in this area and register for marriage, if they meet the Rabbinate's conditions.
• This record could be useful to prove Jewishness if and when it is required by future offspring.
Control of circumcisers and circumcision standard
• The profession of circumcision engages in surgery and is thus a health hazard. Zehut will tighten supervision over the training of circumcisers.
• At the same time, Zehut will work to set a halachic standard for circumcisers, similar to the kosher standard (see above) and the marriage ceremony standard (see below). The circumcision standard will require circumcisers to declare whether the process performed by them meets the standard. This measure will prevent the fraudulent performance of circumcisions that are invalid according to religious law, without the knowledge of the families.
• The Rabbinate Ordination system:
The Rabbinate will retain its ordination system as the acceptable standard, as it is accepted, recognized and desired by the public.
Restructuring local rabbinates: independent courts instead of funded rabbinates
• The local rabbinate has deteriorated in many stages until it has reached its current situation. This justifies fundamental changes in its structure.
• The local rabbinate will have to reorganize around the recognized Hebrew law courts that will be established in its locality, and the rabbi at its head.
Financing Hebrew Courts with an optional tax
• As with culture, the municipal rabbinate should also be financed only with local optional taxes, depending on the public's willingness to pay for this institution and the services it.offers.
• Just as the public is not charged for theater and football in the Zehut model, neither will the public be required to pay for the position of local rabbi.
• Choosing a city rabbi: The city rabbi will be chosen from a list of candidates by the public who have chosen to pay the optional tax for the rabbinate. By paying the tax, they will be expressing their desire to take an active part in the religious Jewish life of the city.
• Neighborhood rabbis: The neighborhood rabbi will be chosen only by the neighborhood residents from among the candidates who present themselves have rabbinic ordination from the Chief Rabbinate. His salary will be paid only from the optional tax collected in the relevant neighborhood.
• Religious services in the city: the Hebrew Court that is be assembled will provide religious services and organize Jewish life, but without guaranteed exclusivity in the field of kashrut and the performance of marriages.
• Clear municipal responsibilities, such as an eruv, rules of Sabbath observance for municipal bodies, the Sabbatical year and so on – will be entrusted to the Hebrew court by the municipality.
Financing of Yeshivot and Liberal Arts: Equality, recognition of reality, striving for independence
• Vision: The question of funding yeshivot has been a "hot topic" for many years. Zehut believes that we must recognize the reality on the ground and equalize the government's approach to the "world of the Torah" and the world of "liberal arts", and stop the unilateral approach.
• The damage of funding: Government funding of Torah institutions and institutions of higher education in liberal arts causes severe damage, as is the nature of government funding, even if it seems convenient to all involved parties.
• Contrary to currently accepted thinking, the golden age of liberal arts in the nineteenth century was accompanied with very little public funding. This is also true of the yeshiva world.
• When yeshivot receive funding according to the number of yeshiva students, the removal of a student means a decline in funding. Therefore the yeshivas maintain a strong hold on every student who agrees to study there and the level of learning is compromised.
• All this is dwarfed by the lack of spiritual independence dictated by that funding . When the weapon of finance is continually in the hands of the State – the yeshiva heads toe the line with what can be said in the framework of the ability to continue receiving funding.
• The same is true for the liberal arts. But the tradition of academic freedom prevalent in the liberal arts has thus far fostered greater freedom of expression.
• Today, every liberal arts student receives generous government subsidies. Students who cannot contribute in these elitist and abstract fields are encouraged nonetheless by the campuses to study for degrees in a fields that have no prospective income.
• The result is that in all of the West, as well as Israel, unemployed liberal arts graduates abound. The State is then called upon to retroactively ensure their livelihood with government initiated employment programs.
The Analogy Between The Study of Liberal Arts and Torah Studies in Yeshivot
"My situation does not allow me also to complain about the funds provided to students of the Torah, for I, myself, seem to be getting more from the public purse than the yeshiva students for studying the same Torah itself." (Prof. Yehuda Liebes, one of the greatest scholars of Jewish studies).
• There is no essential difference between the funding provided to Torah institutions and the funding provided to academic institutions for liberal arts studies.
• In both cases, the public funds educational institutions on topics with no direct economic benefit. On the other hand, they express a spiritual pursuit that justifies (or does not justify) public financing for the purpose of fostering and preserving it.
• Throughout the world, academic institutions teaching liberal arts do not represent the beliefs of the society at large (in the US over 90% of the students in the liberal arts faculties consistently support the Democratic Party).
• In Zehut’s view, government funding of liberal arts justifies the funding of yeshivot, and vice versa.
• These institutions reflect the conflicting worlds of authentic values in Israeli society, and there is no justice in government strengthening one at the expense of the other.
The Current Situation and Future Prospects
• There are hundreds of yeshivot in Israel and hundreds of humanities academic institutions that are beneficiaries of direct and indirect government financing. This reality cannot be changed in an instant.
• In any case, Zehut opposes unilateral cuts to one of the two wings of spiritual education institutions supported by the State of Israel.
• The direction is a gradual reduction of the dependence of these institutions on government support and a gradual reduction of this support, which includes both the help the institutions receive and the restrictions this help carries as well.
Termination of marriage registration: marriage as a foundation which precedes the state
• Marriage is not owned by the state. People married before the state took responsibility for the registration of their marriage, and people will still get married even if the country stops recording it.
• The state should not determine what constitutes marriage. Instead, this should be determined by the society and community to which the person belongs.
• The current situation: The State of Israel currently records the marriage of its citizens and classifies them according to Interior Ministry identification cards as single, married, divorced or widowed.
• The coercion boomerang: The requirement to marry according to the laws of Moses and Israel on the one hand and the reality of people who are not eligible to marry each other according to Jewish law on the other has aroused great indignation against the rabbinate.
• The flow of non-Jewish immigrants in recent decades has created a situation in which some citizens of the State of Israel are not allowed to marry at all, creating absurd situations.
• First and foremost, a broad and persistent struggle for state recognition of same-sex marriage is now being waged.
• Termination of Registration: Zehut believes that the state's Jewish identity will suffer much less, and the freedom of its citizens will grow much more, if the state’s registration of marriage stops completely.
• So how to get married? The State does not marry people; people get married. That is true today, as has always been true.
• People may marry as they wish, and choose the type of ceremony that suits them.
• Zehut believes that just as the vast majority of the Israeli public marries in a traditional Jewish wedding today, so it will continue to do so, and even increase and become more natural with the absence of coercion.
• The road to other wedding options will be open, as the couple chooses.
• The state has no right to prevent people from living together as they wish according to their worldview, and holding their own ceremonies for themselves and their loved ones as they see fit.
At the same time, no one has the right to demand recognition of their marriage from others or from the state.
Marriage by the Rabbinate and the marriage ceremony standard
• The local rabbinate, in the form of Jewish courts, may continue offering to officiate at weddings for the public, but without the legal monopoly they currently have. Anyone who wishes to conduct competing weddings ceremonies may do so. (There will be a rabbinate wedding standard that officiants will required to declare their conformance or non-conformance with, similar to the kashrut standard above).
The legal consequences – According to a signed agreement
• The legal implications of the marriage will depend upon the legal agreement (contract) signed by the marriage partners. This agreement will be the interface of their marriage with the state, if and when they require state intervention.
The sanctity of marriage in Judaism and concerns of a split in the the Jewish People
• Marriage according to Jewish law: As is currently accepted, the couple will be required by the court conducting the wedding ceremony to present the ketubot of their parents and to provide witnesses to testify that they are single, or alternately to clarify the status of their Judaism as is currently done.
• By contrast, a Jew who chooses to marry an unmarried Jewish woman outside the traditional marriage ceremony will not cause their children to be forbidden to marry at all. They will simply have to prove their Jewishness when they choose to marry according to Jewish law.
What do we gain?
• Freedom. The main gain for Israel's citizens is that the state ceases to take sides on the "what constitutes a family" issue.
• Zehut believes that the public will choose its deep-rooted Jewish identity and will continue to adhere to it voluntarily and lovingly, also with regard to the traditional Jewish wedding ceremony.
• This will prevent the bureaucratic laziness in the wedding ceremony system, which creates antagonism toward Judaism.
Part Five: The Economic Plan
• In the last 30 years, during which time Israel adopted a more liberal economic policy, Israel's GDP grew tenfold and quality of life in Israel improved significantly.
• The leading countries in the economic freedom indices, such as Switzerland and Singapore, have enjoyed even more rapid growth during this time.
• The State of Israel is blessed with intellectual capital and an entrepreneurial spirit, giving it a significant advantage in the development of start-up companies and industries. Adoption of free market principles will enhance the expression of this advantage.
• Zehut will work to reduce government involvement in the economy, reduce the bureaucratic mechanism and promote economic freedom in Israel.
• According to the Heritage Foundation, Israel is only in 35th place in the world for economic freedom. We strive to make Israel into one of the leading states in the economic freedom index.
The effect of the policy on the lowest decilesl of society
• It is sometimes argued that the free market is beneficial only for the rich, and the poor are left behind. In reality, the opposite is true. In fact, a liberal economic policy helps the lower deciles in particular.
• Despite fears of expanding gaps, it is specifically in the most capitalist countries that the share of national income in the bottom decile is the largest and its absolute income is the highest.
• The adoption of liberal economic policies that encourage free enterprise brings growth and prosperity for all segments of the population.
Easing the regulatory burden
• Fraser Institute data shows that according to the “regulatory burden index", Israel is ranked 80th in the world.
• Zehut advocates a significant easing of the regulatory burden in all areas of the economy by a broad – but wise – elimination of unnecessary laws and regulations.
Lowering the cost of living
• Zehut’s vision for battling the high cost of living is to turn Israel into a free market zone. Zehut will act to eliminate current limitations on free competition and reduce as much as possible the state involvement in the economy.
• Zehut's economic program will encourage free competition and growth of the economy, which will reduce the cost of living.
Changing the tax system: simplification of the tax structure
• Complex tax laws in Israel are the result of a government policy that sees taxation not as a necessary evil needed to finance state expenditure, but rather as a tool with which to promote the economic and social policies that it wishes to achieve.
• Israel's complex tax structure is excessively harmful to the economy, dampens entrepreneurship and is more complicated than the average citizen can understand.
• Entrepreneurs, the self-employed and owners of small and medium businesses who do not have the resources of big companies see their tax payments rise sharply just when they begin to succeed.
• Many close their businesses, or worse, give up the initiative in the first place – which harms economic development.
• At the same time, cronies and pressure groups exert their political power to gain concessions and tax exemptions that serve their needs, thereby causing harm to the economy.
• Zehut rejects the current tax system and will adopt in its place the flat tax system – a flat tax (and as low as possible) applying to all types of income – without tax brackets, without credits and with no concessions to cronies.
• The flat tax will encourage all citizens of Israel to initiate, advance and succeed as much as they can and will eliminate one of the main tools in the government's top-down economic planning.
• The average citizen will be able to easily file his tax return, which will be a single page, whether he is salaried or independent.
Reducing the tax burden
• Zehut is committed to reducing the tax burden on Israeli citizens by reducing government spending.
Reducing the tax burden will leave more money in the hands of the public and contribute to prosperity and economic growth.