By Ben Murane, Executive Director

Israel has changed, we have changed, reality has changed.

There has been a lot of anticipation about “the day after” the war, though nobody can say precisely when that day will be. Fearful Israelis displaced from their homes near Gaza would be able to begin returning and rebuilding their lives “the day after.” Prime Minister Netanyahu keeps saying that “the day after” is when the government will hold investigations into his catastrophic failures of intelligence, military, and disaster preparedness. President Biden and Israel’s allies are insisting that Israeli leadership have a plan for “the day after” regarding who rules in the Gaza Strip and resolving the underlying conflict.

Israeli leaders will make these fateful decisions with enormous consequences for the future of a safe, secure, and democratic Israel.

If you are like me, then already you had little faith in Israel’s current leadership after nine months of attempts to dismantle democracy – and even less since their behavior after October 7th. Having no faith in Israeli elected officials puts you in the same camp as the majority of Israelis themselves. In fact, 9 of 10 Israelis blame the current government for the failures on October 7th. In every recent political poll, the public shows eagerness for a dramatic sweeping away of the current governing coalition. With a certainty, there will be elections again in 2024 and they bode poorly for the current ruling parties.

So much is waiting to happen “the day after.” But when is that? And the debates over what that day should look like – and what Israeli priorities should be – are already beginning.

As Prof. Naomi Chazan, former president of NIF’s international board, said recently, “there won’t be a single day when we declare that we’re ‘after’ [the war]—in fact, we’re already living it.” The idea that we are already living in a new reality and must adapt is why NIF is already investing in shaping the debate over Israel’s future direction.

For a decade already, NIF and its global supporters like you have been seed-funding and strengthening what we call “New Initiatives for Democracy.” These are projects that develop new leaders, new ideas, and new movements for Israel’s future – investments that come to fruition in future public debates and, yes, elections too. The future is here and Israelis are desperately seeking new ideas.

What ideas will animate the next elections?

Last week NIF in Israel convened the central organizations thinking about the question of what happens “the day after” – the foreign policy think tank Mitvim, the social policy center the Berel Katznelson Foundation (BFK), the Citizens HQ, and the policy messaging shop aChord. The goal was to bring together the different axes of action; the Citizen’s HQ on the one hand for the immediate and media response, Mitvim and Berel Katznelson to think about the long-term and political aspects, and aChord to study public opinion. The hope is that the mechanisms being built now will continue forward after the war and help guide the new reality that arises.

On top of this convening, NIF in Israel has also given a significant grant to “The Hundred Days Project” led by the Berl Katznelson Foundation to think about political possibilities the day after the war. The project aims to formulate a policy agenda for the first 100 days of a new government that will be formed sooner or later. The policies proposed are not limited only to the political sphere, but also touch on securing democracy, economic issues, religion and state, Arab citizens, and others.

Finally, NIF is also coordinating a joint project between the Berl Katsnelson Foundation and Mitvim with the goal of enhancing the expertise of each organization with the other. The emphasis of the collaboration will be on how to best write position papers and concrete proposals for political action for any new government that emerges after the war. This includes building plans, connecting with decision-makers, and putting the plans into action.

It goes without saying that the coming decade will be defined by the enormous events of this year – both the incredible democracy protests and the catastrophic discrediting of Netanyahu’s security policies. We believe that the flagship call of the peace camp must be for a long-term political solution. We also believe that Israeli democracy remain in peril – the anger and fear Israelis are feeling right now are already being hijacked by those offering scapegoats and maximalist solutions.

Only solutions developed by Israelis themselves that deliver economic and social equality, a shared sense of safety by Jews and Arabs alike, and democratic protections can possibly lead to a safe, secure, and democratic future for Israelis. The debate over Israel’s future has already started.

Not tomorrow or the day after, but today.

Make a gift now to help achieve a better future in Israel