Herbert Block, Executive Director of the American Zionist Movement (AZM), spoke to Israel National News at the gathering of the Conference of Presidents in Jerusalem.

“AZM is always pleased to be part of the Conference of Presidents because it’s an opportunity for all the major Jewish organizations, some of which are members of AZM as well, to come together for a week of exploring, learning, dialogue and hearing about the contemporary issues that are going on,” said Block.

He noted that “it has been a busy week in Israel, in security issues and the domestic issues that are going on with the judicial reform, so it’s been an interesting opportunity for all of us, across the spectrum of ideologies and religious streams, to be together and explore these issues and see some things in the country that we haven’t seen.”

On the judicial reform, Block said, “I think we learned that it’s a complex issue, like everything in this country, that there are obviously a lot of different perspectives. I think many people want some kind of reforms or changes, it’s good to update things every so often. There are obviously concerns. There are people who want to do it immediately and move it forward, [and] there are people who want to slow it down and have more dialogue. A lot of what we hear from America is that there should be a deliberative process and consultation and a thoughtful way of doing it, which is a message that we heard from President Herzog when we met with him.”

“We, as an umbrella body of very diverse views, don’t have a position ourselves on this,” he added, “but we do hear a lot of people in America are concerned about it. There’s a lot of news filtering to the States. There’s a 24-hour global news cycle and people are concerned about the issue.”

Asked what the main concerns are among Americans, Block replied, “First of all, I think the concern is out of love. It’s a concern because people care for this country. Zionists abroad really care for Israel, whether they’re living here at the moment or not, and we have a lot of stake with Israel as Jews and Zionists. It’s our homeland, so people care about the country and that’s why they’re passionate about it.”

He said that he is “not sure everybody in America understands all the nuances of all the issues, probably not everybody in Israel does either, so I think people want to see and understand the process more, and see something that doesn’t seem rushed in general.”

Block agreed that perhaps the judicial reform should be explained in a better way, both to people who are in favor of it as well as people who are against.

“The other thing I would say is that there are a lot of challenges in this country going on, with security, with external threats, with terror in the country, and we are in this period of getting ready for the 75th anniversary of Israel,” he continued, before speaking about his unique initiative ahead of Israel’s Independence Day.

“We have a website, www.israel75usa.org, that is a joint website of the AZM and the Conference of Presidents to bring all the groups together, across the spectrum, to celebrate Israel. We have resources and materials from different groups and people are welcome to submit things, events, [there’s] a master calendar of things that are going on, and trying to get people to realize the miracle [of the State of Israel].”

Block acknowledged that sometimes people take Israel for granted, “and we can argue within our family and we can have debates, but you celebrate milestones, and this is a milestone that we should not take for granted of 75 years of the state. And, putting aside everything else, we should be united in celebrating the miracle that is the fulfillment of the Zionist dream. We’re hoping that communities and groups, whatever their ideology, whatever their viewpoint, will take this occasion and realize that there’s a lot to be celebrated and a lot to look forward to.”