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2018 Annual Assessment

The Geopolitical Arena

  • Israel should prepare for a strategic reality in which the U.S. is less willing to invest in the Middle East, to have a regional presence, and to lead efforts to stabilize and bring calm to the region. This new reality is in opposition to Israeli interests and may even harm perceptions of Israel’s deterrence. Israel should encourage Washington, to the extent possible, not to abdicate its leadership position and the various roles it has played in the Middle East.
  • Israel has an interest in cultivating its relations with both China and Russia. However, it should continue to navigate cautiously in the face of the rivalry among the super powers and Israel’s central interest in not damaging its strategic relationship with the United States. Diaspora Jewry should be encouraged to engage in cultural, artistic, academic and intellectual Israeli-Jewish outreach in Asia to generate “soft power” in this continent whose importance and power are on the rise.Take advantage of immigrant groups that maintain significant ties with their countries of origin.
  • Israel should be aware that a reality may emerge in which the U.S. despairs of the possibility of advancing an Israeli-Palestinian settlement and abandons its leadership role in the peace process. The vacuum this would leave might be filled by international actors who are less friendly to Israel and may therefore promote problematic initiatives.
  • American strategic strength along with the amity of the current U.S. president opens a window of opportunity for political moves that will arrest the danger of sliding into a bi-national state reality that threatens Israel’s Jewish identity.
  • Trump’s businesslike tactics of maneuvering and constructing bargaining positions, along with his proclivity for dramatic moves, could lead to some surprising steps. In this context Israel should prepare for possible scenarios resulting from unconventional moves on the part of the American president (such as direct talks with Iran’s leadership).

Relations with Diaspora Communities

  • Israel and major Jewish organizations worldwide should prepare for the possibility of retaliatory actions by Iran, as a means of settling scores with Israel.
  • Israel and the leading U.S. Jewish organizations should work to foster the Triangular Relationship: Jerusalem-Washington-American Jewry, which is a decisive force multiplier of the power of Israel and the Jewish people. While the Jerusalem-Washington side has reached peaks of cooperation and support, significant tensions have erupted between Jerusalem and the American Jewish community. It is incumbent upon the Government of Israel and American Jewish organizations to strengthen the feeling of Israel solidarity among the liberal Jewish community (especially the younger generation). This is out of concern for Jewish people unity and to safeguard American Jewish influence in Israel-related matters. It is recommended that an inclusive pluralistic approach be adopted in order to widen the tent of Jewish unity and commitment.
  • Israel should improve dialogue channels and coordination mechanisms so that the positions of Diaspora Jews can more effectively be considered in Israeli decision-making processes on issues that broadly affect the Jewish people.
  • Israel and U.S. Jewish organizations should sharpen their awareness of a trend of growing frustration within the Trump administration that the president’s pro-Israel moves (especially the transfer of the embassy to Jerusalem) are not sufficiently appreciated by large segments of the American Jewish community.
  • Israel should ensure that it maintain bi-partisan support in the United States. This challenge becomes increasingly complex in light of the growing ideological polarization in the U.S., and as Israeli policy increasingly becomes a bone of contention between the parties (while support for Israel among Republicans is on the rise, it is declining among Democrats).
  • Israel should exercise caution in its relations with countries that demonstrate significant friendship to Israel but whose rulers are distancing themselves from democratic norms, and under whose wings anti-Semitic elements may flourish. This is for reasons of moral principles and out of consideration for the feelings of the Jewish communities in those countries.

The Nation State Legislation

  • JPPI recommends that Israel include among its Basic Laws, the civil equality of all its citizens. The Institute also recommends that Israel’s character as a Jewish and democratic state be given renewed expression in the legislation in the same manner as it appears in the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty (1992).

Haredi Integration

  • Continue the pragmatic policy regarding Haredi integration into general Israeli society, facilitating for those Haredim who desire it, integration into the IDF, National Service, and the labor force in such a way that preserves their unique identity.
    Encourage the Ultra-Orthodox and Orthodox communities, especially in the United States, to take an active role in Jewish communal life and the general American society and increase their participation in politics and public service in the national arena in addition to efforts made on the local level.

Conversion

  • JPPI recommends that Israel include among its Basic Laws, the civil equality of all its citizens. The Institute also recommends that Israel’s character as a Jewish and democratic state be given renewed expression in the legislation in the same manner as it appears in the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty (1992).
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