Adjust size of text


Follow us and continue the conversation

Your saved articles

You haven't saved any articles

What are you looking for?

Crowdsourcing a constitution for Israel

Sharonna Karni Cohen
Print this
Crowdsourcing a constitution for Israel

Published: 8 August 2023

Last updated: 5 March 2024

Israel's lack of a constitution is a key problem in the current civil crisis. SHARONNA KARNI COHEN wants diaspora Jews to help draft one.

Dear Global Jewry,

I write this letter today with a sense of urgency. This conflict is no longer only ours. It is yours, too. I have a dream that you will dream up a constitution with us in Israel.

There is a divide in our country between many different people and if we don’t do something about it, things will only get worse. A divide between the Jewish people is nothing new. Centuries have passed with thousands of battles, divides, debates and disagreements about how things should be. And we aren’t unique. These fights happen in most religions. The difference for us with them, the other religions and even then, more historical times, is that we only have one country for our religion. This country is 75 years old.

Abraham was 75 years old when he left his father’s house. Perhaps it is time for us to leave the “house” and understand how we can create a state that works for all of us; the Jewish people and the 20% and growing Arab population. Yesterday, I walked home from a protest down Bograshov Street. The street is filled with kosher and non-kosher restaurants. They are living their parallel lives but both enjoying the atmosphere of Tel Aviv. We all come from the same root, and it is time to understand each other's needs and to respect them.

I am asking you to contribute your voice towards a manifesto for our country.

I moved to Tel Aviv from London 13 years ago. It is the most secular place in Israel for Jews, and yet I have become more observant. I read the Parasha every week and learn so much from our Torah’s stories. I observe Shabbat in my ways and light the candles welcoming each Friday eve as my favourite time of the week. I fast on Yom Kippur.  I am getting married in a month and am excited mostly about all the Jewish rituals.

I write this letter to you all today because I am scared. The government has passed a law that states it can basically do whatever it wants, which weakens the Supreme Court’s overruling abilities. For example, they can simply decide to have elections every eight years instead of four. Our Supreme Court is the equivalent of a constitution. I am not claiming it is the most ethical body. A constitution would definitely be better. Yet, there are bugs in every system and now we need to work on what this constitution could look like.

The government was democratically voted in by the people, and believes that the other half of the nation, who didn’t vote for them, no longer count, especially their voices and pleas for help. The protests you have witnessed for the last 30 weeks are about this.

We need thought leaders who will stir our country in the right direction. The urgency is not only for us to all get along, but for the sake of our country’s protection and for the purpose of Judaism worldwide. We have enemies near and far. We have academies that don’t want to work with Israeli academies. We have boycotts every day. We have threats from our neighbours.

My grandfather was the IDF spokesperson. He spent most of his life working on Hasbara (public relations) and explaining to people around the world the purpose of Israel. In the Independence war, at the age of 18, he stepped on a mine and lost his arm. I never met him, but I hear him and my grandma calling out to me. To find a bridge between my two identities: the one of Israel and the one of the diaspora.

We see the economy here crumbling. We see a civil war arising. And we ask you in desperation to help us gather a foreign forum to serve as a voice to our Prime Minister. To suggest to him that alongside their decision yesterday to vote for an overhaul, that he re-opens the negotiations around how a constitution is written. I believe now is the time for the diaspora to unite and shine for our tiny and ever-so young country. For the sake of all our futures, and for the sake of our religion.

Please share your voice, by clicking this link. You are invited to write a vision, law, idea or sentence that you would like to see in the constitution. People have worked on the idea of an Israeli constitution before but it doesn’t mean we have to start from where they finished. We have started to crowdsource worldwide visions. From Tisha B’Av to Tu B’av. From hate to love. The link will be available until Rosh Hashanah. Afterwards, we shall aggregate ALL of the answers into one document and offer it to our Prime Minister as the stepping stones for a modern-day constitution. One made by the masses. You can't get more revolutionary than that.

I am asking you to enter this link, whether you are pro the overhaul or not. I wrote in the link: “Certain areas in Israel will be fully observant for Shabbat with no public transportation and others will not, with public transportation available. These areas will be decided by members of the government and municipalities.” More examples: Everyone will serve the nation; as a volunteer for social causes and organisations or in the IDF. There will be elections every four years. No Prime Minister can be in this position for more than eight years.

I am asking you to contribute your voice towards a manifesto for our country. Before it is too late. Signing off with wise words by the late Rabbi Jonathan Sacks: “I don’t need you to agree with me, I need you to care about me!”

With gratitude, fear and hope.

Sincerely Imagined,

Sharonna Karni Cohen

About the author

Sharonna Karni Cohen

Sharonna Karni Cohen is an Israeli social entrepreneur and artivist. She is the CEO and Co-Creator at Dreame: A collective of artists to commission art with. Over 10,000 artworks have been co-created in over 50 countries so far with commissioners and multiple companies. She is also the creator of The Big Dream, a global installation envisioning the future of the world, inspired by 50,000 dreams, exhibited around the world and in space.

The Jewish Independent acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of Country throughout Australia. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and strive to honour their rich history of storytelling in our work and mission.

Enter site