Erel Margalit Contributor
Erel Margalit is an Israeli high-tech investor, social entrepreneur, and former Knesset member. He is the founder and Executive Chairman of the Jerusalem-based VC firm Jerusalem Venture Partners, and Margalit Startup City, the international collection of thematic socioeconomic hubs.
Israel is a country that has battled for its existence and survival since Day 1.
Having fought multiple wars and living with ongoing threats, Israelis are now in a fierce battle for their democracy. This battle is not fought with tanks or guns but with the power of unity, protest, and the determination to protect the very essence of their nation.
Last week, hundreds of thousands poured onto the streets across the country in response to the Netanyahu government’s passage, and in a first Knesset reading, of the “reasonableness bill,” which will severely restrict judicial review of decisions made by the cabinet, government ministers, and other elected officials.
The bill is part of a contentious legislative package advanced by the hardline Netanyahu coalition that aims to radically overhaul Israel’s independent judiciary and curb checks and balances on political power. This week, the government plans to bring the bill for its final votes.
And our unequivocal answer is, “NO.”
We at JVP and the entire Israeli high-tech sector, whose members went out in droves to protest, alongside doctors, teachers, members of the military reserves, pilots, special forces units, and people from all walks of life, are saying no to dictatorship and yes to democracy.
Often, in the history of countries, there are key moments of real, existential crisis that demand answers on values.
In addition to their contributions to Israel’s economy, the tech community recognizes the vital role that democracy and societal openness play in fostering innovation, invention, and creativity. These values are the very foundation of the national spirit that drives the country’s success on the global stage. As a result, the high-tech sector has joined forces with other industries to stand united in the defense of democratic principles that have allowed Israel to flourish.
We refuse to let our hard-fought freedoms be undermined by a government seeking to consolidate power and erode the principles that have made Israel a beacon of democracy in the region.
What Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has found in many of us are warriors. Just like we have been warriors on the front lines, we are also warriors in this battle for democracy. We understand that the strength of a nation lies not only in its military might but also in its commitment to upholding the values of justice, equality, and freedom. We will not stand idly by as these values are threatened.
With last week’s mass demonstrations and more protests planned this week, Israelis from the center, the left, and the moderate right convey a powerful message to Netanyahu and his far-right partners: The judicial overhaul he and they are trying to lead is unacceptable and will not be allowed to pass. We refuse to let Israel slide down the dangerous path of illiberal governance witnessed in countries like Poland and Hungary. Our country’s strength lies in its vibrant democracy, where the rule of law prevails and every citizen’s rights are protected.
In a country with such strong societal bonds and with so many people who have sacrificed and paid heavy prices, we can’t let this government hijack the judicial system and transform Israel from a proud, hard-earned liberal democracy into something we no longer recognize.
For Israelis, democracy and societal openness are the very fundamental conditions of innovation, invention, and creativity. It is our national spirit.
The collective determination to defend democratic principles reflects the deep societal bonds and the belief that preserving democracy is vital for the continued success and prosperity of the nation.
Technology and innovation — for JVP and many in the high-tech sector and other industries — have been instrumental in fostering cooperation and partnerships with other tech and business ecosystems, not just in the U.S., Europe, and Asia, but also in the Middle East. Countries like the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan have become allies in the pursuit of technological progress and economic growth.
We cannot let everything we built be destroyed by a government intent on harming Israel’s independent judiciary, a cornerstone of every democracy. The high-tech sector, along with various other industries, stands united in its commitment to safeguard the democratic values that have propelled Israel’s success on the global stage.
Just as they have been warriors on the front lines of technological advancement, they are now warriors in the fight to protect their nation’s democratic soul. The determination to overcome this existential crisis and uphold the core values that define Israel’s identity and strength is a testament to the resilience and unity of the Israeli people. This pivotal moment calls for a resolute stance on the values that have shaped the country’s history, and it is one that will shape its future.
We are going to overcome this, and the people who are trying to derail democracy today will be gone tomorrow. Often, in the history of countries, there are key moments of real, existential crisis that demand answers on values.
For Israel, this is one of those moments.