February 22, 2024

Technological heroes in the battle for Israeli democracy

Israel is a country that has been fighting to exist and survive since Day 1.

After fighting multiple wars and living under constant threats, Israelis are now in a fierce battle for their democracy. This battle is not fought with tanks or guns but with the power of unity, protest, and determination to protect the essence of the nation.

Last week, hundreds of thousands poured into the streets across the country in response to the Netanyahu government’s passage, and the Knesset’s first reading, of the “reasonableness bill,” which will severely restrict judicial review of decisions made by the cabinet, government ministers, and other elected officials.

The bill is part of a controversial legislative package promoted by Netanyahu’s hardline coalition that aims to overhaul Israel’s independent judiciary and curb checks and balances on political power. This week, the government plans to give the bill its final votes.

And our answer is an unequivocal, “NO.”

We at JVP and the entire Israeli high-tech sector, whose members went out in droves to protest, along with doctors, teachers, members of the military reserves, pilots, special forces units, and people from all walks of life, saying no to dictatorship and yes to democracy.

Often, in the history of countries, there are key moments of true existential crisis that require answers to values.

In addition to its contribution to the Israeli economy, the technology community recognizes the critical role of democracy and the openness of society in fostering innovation, invention and creativity. These values ​​are the cornerstone of the national spirit that drives the country’s success on the world stage. As a result, the high-tech sector has joined forces with other industries to take a united stand in defense of the democratic principles that have enabled Israel to rise.

We refuse to allow our hard-earned freedoms to be undermined by a government that seeks to consolidate power and erode the principles that made Israel a symbol of democracy in the region.

What Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has found in many of us are heroes. Just as we were heroes on the front lines, we are also heroes in this battle for democracy. We understand that the strength of a nation lies not only in its military prowess but also in its commitment to uphold the values ​​of justice, equality and freedom. We will not stand idly by as these values ​​are threatened.

With last week’s mass demonstrations and more protests planned this week, Israelis from the center, left, and moderate right are sending a powerful message to Netanyahu and his far-right allies: The judicial overhaul he is trying to lead is unacceptable and will not be allowed to pass. We refuse to allow Israel to slide down the dangerous path of illiberal governance seen in countries like Poland and Hungary. The strength of our country is a vibrant democracy, where the rule of law prevails and the rights of all citizens are protected.

In a country where societal ties are so strong and where so many people have sacrificed and paid heavy prices, we cannot allow this government to take over the judicial system and transform Israel from a proud, hard-earned liberal democracy into something we no longer recognize.

For Israelis, democracy and societal openness are the fundamental conditions for innovation, invention and creativity. It is our national spirit.

The collective determination to defend democratic principles reflects the deep societal ties and the belief that the preservation of democracy is vital to the continued success and prosperity of the nation.

Technology and innovation — for JVP and many in the high-tech sector and other industries — have been key to fostering cooperation and partnerships with other technology and business ecosystems, not only in the US, Europe and Asia, but also in the Middle East. Countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan are allies in their quest for technological advancement and economic growth.

We cannot allow everything we have built to be destroyed by a government intent on harming Israel’s independent judiciary, the cornerstone of every democracy. The high-tech sector, along with various other industries, is united in its commitment to protecting the democratic values ​​that have fueled Israel’s success on the world stage.

Just as they were heroes on the front lines of technological progress, they are now heroes in the fight to protect the democratic soul of their nation. The determination to overcome this existential crisis and uphold the fundamental values ​​that define Israel’s identity and strength is a testament to the resilience and unity of the Israeli people. This critical moment calls for a resolute stand on the values ​​that have shaped the country’s history, and one that will shape its future.

We are going to overcome that, and the people who want to abolish democracy today will be gone tomorrow. Often, in the history of countries, there are key moments of true existential crisis that require answers to values.

For Israel, this is one of those moments.

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