With the presidential elections just around the bend, each candidate brings to the table their own unique proposals on how to preserve and embrace the fundamental principles of our great nation.
As we listen to the speeches of hopeful candidates, we must ask ourselves: What exactly are those “cherished values”? What are the defining hallmarks that make us so proud to call ourselves American? And, most importantly, how do we, as Americans, ensure the preservation of those values that we hold so dear? The answer is simple: by supporting the individuals and governments who embody those values.
Amongst the many nations in the global community, one stands out as the clear and natural ally to the United States: Israel.
In the very foundation of the small state, Israel was established upon the basis of democratic principles bearing striking resemblance to those of our own great nation. As is proudly stated in the Israeli Declaration of Independence, the state was founded to “… benefit all of its inhabitants” as a nation “… based on freedom, justice and peace." The document goes on further to “ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race, or sex [and] guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture." One needn’t read between the lines to see the striking similarities between this and our own Declaration of Independence.
Since this declaration in 1948, Israel’s 64 years of statehood stand as an ongoing commitment to these principles. Embracing, above all, the value of equality, Israel goes above and beyond to ensure not only the rights of its diverse people, but also the fair and equal representation of those individuals in the state’s democratically constructed government. This is exhibited most clearly by the individuals elected to sit in the Knesset (Israeli Parliament). Members from every group, including men and women, Jews, Muslims, and Christians are not only permitted, but also encouraged to engage in the Israeli government, as their active participation is recognized as an indisputable component to Israel’s thriving society.
Amidst the diverse pool of members currently serving in the Knesset, Haneen Zoabi stands out as a particularly notable representative. Elected in 2009, Zoabi is not only a Palestinian Arab Israeli citizen, but is also the first woman in Knesset history to have been elected as a representative from the Arab party. As an Israeli, Zoabi enjoys the freedom of speech granted to any and all citizens, a freedom she recently exercised in her meeting with several Hamas officials. Despite this demonstration of clear defiance against Israeli public opinion and government, Zoabi retains her position in the Knesset, representing one of the many voices of Israeli society.
Unlike the American two-party system, the Israeli government is composed of 120 seats, representing a total of 13 parties. The inclusion of so many parties stands as an ongoing effort of the Israeli government to ensure that the voices of all citizens are heard. Nothing could more clearly demonstrate Israel’s commitment to freedom of speech and protection of minority rights than the widely diverse nature of the parties. Hadash, a far left wing party representing a Jewish and Arab socialist perspective, is protected by Israel’s freedom of speech, even while openly declaring themselves against the Zionist movement and the state of Israel as a Jewish state. Meanwhile, the far right wing Jewish group, Kach, was banned from the Knesset in 1994 after demonstrating racism against Arabs and Palestinians. No other nation, not even the U.S., can compare to the absolute, unwavering dedication to protecting the rights and freedoms of minorities that is embodied by the Israeli government.
In an increasingly globalized world, strong alliances amongst nations of shared values are ever more important. In order to ensure the preservation of those most cherished values, upon which our great nation was founded and continues to flourish, we must recognize and support those who demonstrate those values, not only in, but beyond our borders. In this spirit, the importance of supporting the state of Israel cannot be overstated.
Photo Credit: hoyasmeg