President Joe Biden
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Biden,
Thank you for your unwavering commitment to upholding democracy and for your considerable efforts to deter Prime Minister Netanyahu from proceeding with the judicial overhaul In Israel. Your expressions of concern for Israel’s democracy and your frank criticisms of the Israeli government’s campaign to weaken the country’s judiciary has helped buoy the popular opposition to this alarming democratic backsliding.
Sadly, we must acknowledge that warnings from the United States did not ultimately prevent the Israeli government from acting on this agenda. As a result, we now find ourselves at a critical juncture where further actions are necessary to safeguard the democratic values the US -Israel relationship is founded upon.
As American Jewish leaders who care deeply about Israel and wish to see it fulfilling its founding values of democracy, freedom, justice, and peace, we share your sentiment of deep concern for Israel’s future.
While deeply appreciative of your public expressions of concern, we are urging you to go beyond words and to take decisive action to demonstrate the seriousness of the situation.
Mr. President, The current Israeli government’s campaign is so severe and so consequential that it merits a proportionate reaction by Israel’s chief ally, the United States of America.
Therefore, we believe that the time has come to take concrete action to send a clear message to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government. Going beyond words will make clear to Netanyahu’s government that its actions come with a price. Where there are fewer shared values, the special relationship becomes less special.
It is not our intention to advocate for punitive measures against Israel, neither the state nor the people. Most Israelis oppose their government’s anti-democratic campaign. Hundreds of thousands of them have been protesting the government’s insistence on weakening the Supreme Court, which works to guarantee basic rights and liberties of all Israelis. These patriots deserve praise, not punishment.
While Netanyahu’s government seems oblivious to domestic protest, it justifiably cares about Israel’s relationship with Washington. This relationship is Israel’s chief strategic asset.
To protect Israel's future and its relationship with the United States, we urge you to consider several concrete measures that your administration could take including but not limited to:
We firmly believe that taking these specific actions will underscore the United States' commitment to democratic values, human rights, and peace in the region. By leveraging the US-Israel special relationship, we can encourage Israel's government to reevaluate its current trajectory and uphold the founding values of democracy, freedom, justice, and peace.
Thank you for your attention to this critical matter, and we stand ready to support any efforts to preserve Israel's democracy and safeguard its future.
Letty Cottin Pogrebin
Rabbi Steve Gutow
Rabbi Jill Jacobs
Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie
Jo Ann Mort