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 a