1. We, a group of Israeli citizens, representing the new immigrants from the former USSR as well as old residents of the country, express by this declaration our deep concern with the current state of Israeli politics and public life, and particularly regarding the situation of the Russian-speaking community in Israel.
2. We strongly believe that it is our duty to alert our society that the general situation in the country today is almost unanimously considered critical. We frightfully perceive the signs of crisis and decay that are evident in every aspect of civil life. We are deeply concerned about the stagnation in our relations with the Palestinians and with the Arab world and emphatically consider that it is our obligation urging the government to make everything possible with the aim to prevent a conceivable military confrontation and massive bloodshed.
3. We are intensely distressed about the negative tendencies in our public and social life, such as corruption, distrust towards state institutions, governmental malfunctioning system of decision-making and implementation, growth of socio-economic contrasts and consequently a deepening of the social fractures, phenomena that are unmistakably evident.
4. We are extremely worried by the particular condition of the Russian-speaking community in Israel, which is especially affected. We are also strongly opposing all types of discrimination against other ethnic groups in Israeli scociety, i.e. Ethiopians, “Sefardim”, Arabs, Bedouins, Cherkesse, etc.
We are confident that in addition to the the common failures of the Israeli political and social life, the specific problems of immigrants makes the general difficulties more severe.
We wish to emphasize that the Russian-speaking community accounts today for almost 20% of the Israeli population. There are several features which are shared by most members of this diversified group, such as high educational level, secular life-style, strong tendency to retain the Russian-Jewish identity and specific patterns of social and cultural conduct, high appreciation of “western” and “universal” world-outlook.
5. We feel that it is our mission to publicly declare that as a result of different factors, the Russian-speaking community, as well as other ethnic groups, have not become an integral part of Israeli society. The collective self-identity of these segments is the perception of being a minority group discriminated by the Israeli public and individual environment, and such sensation is, partially at least, justified. In addition to language barrier and natural difficulties, which immigrants usually have to face, many of these community members suffer different forms of personal and collective hardships and deprivation.
6. About 30% of the Russian-speaking sector of the Israeli society are those with problematic religious and/or ethnic status. They find themselves in the gap between the Law of Return, which recognizes their right to immigrate to Israel and to obtain Israeli citizenship, and the Jewish religious legislation. We can not anylonger passively witness that these people face in Israel a number of unsolvable problems connected with marriage, burial, family reunification and sometimes even with citizenship. At the same time the procedure of “giur” (conversion) is still shamefully under the exclusive jurisdiction of the orthodox religious establishment, which creates great difficulties and obstructions.
7. We would like to alert the general Israel society that the disapointment and resentment of numerous Russian-speaking citizens towards Israeli political, business and cultural elites is eagerly exploited and even stimulated by the Russian-language media in Israel, which generally have right-wing populist orientations. The owners and managers of these media organs strive to retain the community in the status of isolation and alienation from the Israeli society in order to preserve their personal influence within the community and to manipulate its electorate potential in their favour. The Russian-speaking Israeli citizens are thus subjected to a highly biased propaganda, verging on brain-washing.
8. We are absolutely convinced that there is an urgent need for a new, broad public initiative which should help to preserve the best of the specific cultural patterns of the Russian-speaking community and other immigrant communities, while ensuring at the same time the improvement of the socio-economic position of the new immigrants and a better social and cultural integration into Israeli milieu and public discourse.
We declare thus the establishment of a new public movement “The Charter of Democracy for Russian-Speaking Israelis” (Демократическая Хартия Русских Израильтян) with the aim of supporting the promotion of democratic, humanistic values, the spirit of tolerance and social justice among the members of the Russian-speaking community in Israel, and the advancement of their human and civil rights