Opposition leader Tzipi Livni
Opposition leader Tzipi Livni Israel news photo: Flash 90

Opposition leader Tzipi Livni lamented the lack of clarity surrounding the definition of the Jewish identity of the State of Israel Monday night at an event marking the fast of Tisha B'Av. The conference, which was held in Tel Aviv for the 12th year in a row, was entitled, “Tonight We Do Not Learn Torah." Except for passages of sadness or warnings of punishment for Torah violations, Torah is not studied on the day of mourning for the destruction of the Holy Temples as its study causes happiness.

The Kadima party chairwoman noted that “one does not have to choose between intense secularism and extreme hareidi-religious observance. There is a large middle ground, and a very large public out there that is not necessarily observant but nevertheless has a Jewish connection, one that is wider than you are told about, and means more than what is written on identity cards. It is not connected to the hareidi religious Jews, it has nothing to do with them; it's about us, we who are not extremists. It's not a favor to anyone else.”

She added that the religious Zionist political parties do not work on a common denominator for all of us because of poitical power struggles and a terrible system of government that gives too much power to hareidi-religious parties. “There are payments that give a monopoly on Jewish content to political parties that pull in their direction and theirs alone, and everyone pays the price,” Livni said. “The conversion law is one recent instance of that – where not relating to the common denominator is causing us to lose it.”

She argued that it is time to set the parameters that define a Jewish state. “It is clear what a democratic state is,” she said, “but less clear to everyone exactly what a Jewish state is. We are very close to the point at which we will no longer be able to do that,” Livni warned. “It would not be good if we split into separate societies, each of which does whatever it pleases on traditional occasions – Israel would lose her Jewish character, both nationally and religiously in the process.”

Livni also discussed her connection to Jerusalem, saying “I live in Tel Aviv, but my umbilical cord indeed is connected to the Temple Mount, both from a personal perspective, and in my national, public life as well. The feeling of belonging to Jerusalem is not necessarily related to observance of the mitzvot (commandments), she added, “although I regret it is weakening with the passage of time.  The way to reconnect", Livni said, is “through Jewish continuity on the national, and not the religious level.”

"Jerusalem must be returned to the younger generation", she said. "Jerusalem is in difficulties and needs treatment. There is a need to educate the younger generation all over the country to feel a connection to Jerusalem. Education in Israel today lacks the connection with the history of the Jewish People and specifically with Jerusalem,” she asserted.

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