“The destiny of the country, being a Jewish State, has got to mean more than a country in which the majority of the people are ethnically Jewish,” Liberman told Breaking Israel News in an exclusive interview.
Lieberman, who is Jewish, believes that part of being a “light unto the nations” involves making certain that non-Jewish groups within the Jewish state are never marginalized.
“The country will not achieve its potential and destiny if one sector is prioritized,’” Lieberman had told gala participants.
“The Torah says we should remember that we were strangers in Egypt, and this led Jews to be social justice fighters for outsiders,” Lieberman elaborated to Breaking Israel News.
“You too must befriend the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 10:19)
“I think, and the founders and writers of the Israeli Declaration of Independence said this, they focused on values of freedom, peace, justice, as a vision by the prophets,” he continued.
In that vein, Lieberman suggested that Israel’s Jewish majority should first ensure that no Jewish group is alienated.
“Now in the midst of that, we have to respect each others’ differences,” Lieberman said to Breaking Israel News. “We have to find room in Israel for those who are religious and not religious, for those who are Ultra-Orthodox and for those who are secular.”
Lieberman was awed by a demonstration of Jewish unity in Israel at the gala during a song and dance performance of girls, half of whom were secular and wearing jeans and the other half of whom were religious and wore skirts.
“They are really part of the same country, and that’s the goal,” he remarked.
The former senator also touched upon the question of compatibility between Judaism and democracy.
“There is a challenge of Judaism and democracy coexisting,” said Lieberman. “This [challenge] is not as serious as the threat of anti-Semitism seen by Theodor Herzl and realized in Holocaust, but it can hurt this country,” he said.
Nevertheless, Lieberman maintained, “there is a natural connection between Judaism and democracy.”
Addressing the gala, Lieberman said that Israel must stay committed to the unified society resembling a “light unto the nations.”
“We can’t give up, because the future of Israel is on the line,” he said. “We need to challenge each other because it’s the only way to guarantee the kind of unity in Israel that is as important as any other critical factor to the future of this beloved country.”