Rotem A. Oreg
Democracy in America - and in Israel
Updated: Aug 27, 2022
This is the first time I'm in the United States since establishing the Israeli-Democratic Alliance.
I'm writing these words from San Diego, CA, while participating in the Hansen Leadership Institute. Our first class was titled "Democracy in America" - and whilst I expected an introduction to the institutional systems of the United States - the class focused more on values. We discussed the values already manifested in daily American life, as well as those that have yet to materialize fully.
We had some serious conversation topics: abortion policy, gun control, and the electoral college. Democracy in America, as it is in any other place, is a process.
But these topics are not just theoretical. They played out as we attended a 4th of July parade in San Diego at the same time a shooting broke out in Illinois. Or, in a conversation with a local mayor and Border Patrol officers near the U.S.-Mexico border. Such experiences illustrated a singular theme: values cannot remain just vogue concepts, but we must deliver for the community from a values-based perspective.
The theme matters because it reveals how we can and should engage one another. In a recent conversation with an American friend, I mentioned the deep polarization in both America and Israel. We agreed that the way to tackle this issue is not necessarily by rushing towards a solution altogether. Instead, both sides should address their disagreements by focusing on mutual values.
While most Israelis and Americans might disagree on the right solution for the conflict, we agree that we're committed to peace, freedom, security, and prosperity for all residents of the Middle East.
We know that we might not always live up to those values because democracy is indeed a process. But, once we have a moral common ground, and the courage to stand up and say "on this and that issue we can do better", change is not only possible, but needed.
And that what the Israeli-Democratic Alliance is about: bringing Israelis and Americans together, so they can bring change together.