September 22, 2023
We are here between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, a time when we’re called to consider who we’ll be in the year ahead — at a moment when the Jewish community itself is facing existential questions of who we are and what we stand for.
In the U.S. and Israel, democracy is under threat. And in both places, there is no choice but democracy.
Yet some leaders are taking a page right out of the authoritarian playbook: telling us that the majority of Jews who believe in democracy, in inclusivity, in pluralism — who believe that our safety is in solidarity with others, not opposition — are somehow disloyal, somehow threats.
Make no mistake: what threatens Jewish safety, what threatens Jewish values, what threatens the Jewish homeland, is the rising tide of anti-democratic extremism.
We in the diaspora have heard loudly and clearly from our Israeli siblings that they’re facing an emergency. That we need to show up before it’s too late — BECAUSE of our love for Israel. BECAUSE of our history and values. BECAUSE if we care about democracy here, we must care about it there.
So I want to be clear to all of the Israelis standing up for democracy:
American Jews are with you.
We’re with you because we know the fight for democracy is our fight too — that the vast majority of American Jews believe in a Jewish, democratic Israel that lives up to its founding values of equality, freedom, and justice for all.
We’re with you because, if we care about Jewish safety, the future of our homeland and our people, we have no choice but to heed your call and speak out.
This is not an easy moment. It’s precarious and daunting to see democracy under threat in the two countries where Jews have gone to find safety and a home.
My grandparents miraculously survived the Shoah and came here. The few other surviving family went to Israel. All were able to build free, thriving lives — because of democracy.
So as we consider who we want to be in the year ahead, let’s be clear about who we are as Jews and the values that we not only hold dear — but that are existential to our safety and our future.
And that gives us no choice: to stand up to extremism. To build inclusive, pluralistic societies. And to fight – tirelessly – for democracy.
JCPA CEO Amy Spitalnick Remarks at Rally for Israeli Democracy
September 22, 2023