JERUSALEM — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz today lent their signatures to the Declaration of Our Common Destiny, joining thousands of Jews from around the world who have signed and contributed to the document promoting global Jewish unity.
Their signing took place during a sound & light spectacular at Jerusalem’s Tower of David celebrating the Declaration and its sponsor, the initiative Our Common Destiny, which the Genesis Philanthropy Group launched one year ago in partnership with the Israeli Ministry of Diaspora Affairs, under the auspices of the Office of the President of Israel.
“This is an important day because on this day we are signing the Declaration of Our Common Destiny of our people, which in recent generations has jumped from the killing fields to the heights of revival. I am excited to see every evening the giant menorahs lit in major cities around the world, the Jewish light and the light of Israel shining through the streets of New York, the streets of Moscow and the lamp also burning at the foot of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai,” Netanyahu said.
“There are still phenomena of racism and antisemitism and we must fight them with fearless determination. But the light is immeasurably greater than the darkness. If we continue to adhere to the policies we have pursued to strengthen Israel’s power, we will bring more achievements and more peace alliances, more prosperity and pride for us and our brothers and sisters abroad.”
Gantz said that “here tonight we take our first step on a new course. There may be a lot we don’t know about the future, but this path can only take us forward: because when we come together with openness and are willing to listen to each other, we are already ahead.”
Gantz added he was “grateful” for the other leaders and Genesis Philanthropy Group, who are “coming to ask the right questions and to meet the needs of this moment together. We are only as strong as we are united beyond our differences. We belong to one another and to the larger story of our people. The Hanukkah holiday symbolizes the story of the common destiny that we mark today, our eternal concern for our brothers and sisters, the understanding that we are connected to each other, our willingness to act for Our Common Destiny.”
The Declaration focuses on five deeply held values shared by all Jews, bedrock principles that bind the Jewish people together despite differing religious practices, nationalities, cultural identities and political affiliations. Thirty of the world’s most prominent Jewish thought leaders, representing the diverse ideologies, genders, ages and languages of Jews worldwide, initially presented the Declaration to President Reuven Rivlin in September 2019, at the Our Common Destiny Forum in Jerusalem.
Our Common Destiny aims to help global Jewry celebrate its diversity and act upon its shared values by working together to build a brighter future for the Jewish people and all humanity. Our Common Destiny crowdsourced the Declaration and invited Jews everywhere to help shape it by prioritizing shared values. More than 130,000 Jews from every continent participated.
Joining Netanyahu and Gantz at the Our Common Destiny event and also signing the Declaration were other leaders and VIPs including Israel’s Minister of Diaspora Affairs, Omer Yankelevich; Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Leon; Member of Knesset Naftali Bennett; Genesis Philanthropy Group Co-founder and Trustee Mikhail Fridman; Genesis Philanthropy Group Vice President of External Relations Dorit Golender; and Our Common Destiny Project Director Sivan Aloni.
“Our past tragedies and antisemitic enemies cannot be the sole basis of our sense of peoplehood. If we cannot re-root Jewish unity in the present, we cannot hope that our children will be able to uphold it in the future. This is our task, a necessary ingredient for all of our other hopes and dreams as a people,” Fridman said.
“There is no miracle drug or clever vaccine for the pandemic of alienation and indifference between Jews in Israel and Jews in the Diaspora, between various Jewish communities, movements, denominations and generations. The only true cure for it can and should be our common will, our mutual effort to turn the tide and to come together. To prioritize common ground and joint action. To actively seek and build our future as a united people for the sake of the generations to come.”
Yankelevich welcomed the Declaration. “The ‘Our Common Destiny’ is intended so that we stop for a moment, and rise above the controversies, the challenges, and the daily noises, and build a vision together that will unite us. Not only because of the Holocaust, not only because of antisemitism. Not only because of the existential dangers that lurk at our door, but because we have a shared purpose and a destiny in this world,” she said.
“We see this as our national and strategic mission. It is time that the Jewish people come together, from Israel and from across the world, not only to remember our shared past, but to fulfill our shared future – Our Common Destiny.”
When Jews are targeted worldwide, Bennett added, “we care about one another. But it’s not enough. We now are on the verge of a next step — furthering and strengthening our common destiny. The centerpiece of Judaism is meaning. It’s all about why. What is the meaning of a Jewish state? Is it just a shelter? No. It’s not only about that. It’s about being a light unto the nations.”
Now we need to work together,” he added. For Israelis “to learn from you, listen to you” in the Diaspora, “and vice versa.”
The signing is among several events Our Common Destiny is hosting during Hanukkah to herald the Declaration, which President Rivlin is set to endorse during a special ceremony, “Illuminate: A Global Jewish Unity Event,” this Thursday, Dec. 17, which will also feature musical stars Idan Raichel and Jess Glynne. Shira Haas, star of “Shtisel,” “Unorthodox” and other hits, will emcee the Dec. 17 gathering.