Why doesn't the government take more initiative towards peace? Why is there no egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall? How come the ultra-Orthodox don't serve in the military? The common denominator to all these issues is that they all stem from a structural flaw in our electoral system, which allows vocal minorities to hold the national interest hostage to their concerns and interests
The fifth in a series of articles and videos prepared by the Israel Democracy Institute in the run-up to April 9, explaining and critiquing what goes on during an election period
Exclusive Pre-Elections survey by the Guttman Center at the Israel Democracy Institute finds that half of Israelis find it harder than in the past to decide whom to vote for; 25% base their choice on the party’s positions on socioeconomic issues and 18% on who heads the party; 27% do not trust the integrity of the Knesset elections
As the Israeli attorney-general is expected to announce his decision regarding the possible indictment of Prime Minister Netanyahu on corruption charges, Tipping Point hosts two leading experts for a discussion on the legal and political ramifications. Dr. Guy Lurie (Israel Democracy Institute) and Dr. Emmanuel Navon (Kohelet Policy Forum) try to make sense of what’s about to come
It is difficult to identify them - they are hidden, disguised, sophisticated and resonate to us what our immediate surroundings think. During the election campaign they are at their peak - bots, fake accounts, unnamed identifiers - all trying to influence public opinion. We bring to you 5 tips for managing smart online presence
Following the merger between Yesh Atid and the Israel Resilience Party, April’s elections will feature real competition between two major blocs. The next step in minimizing fragmentation in the Israeli political system is reforming the method by which a government is formed. The head of the largest party should automatically be appointed to form the next government.
The third in a series of articles and videos prepared by the Israel Democracy Institute in the run-up to April 9, explaining and critiquing what goes on during an election period
What is the secret behind the power of the ultra-Orthodox political parties in Israel and how has it changed over the years? The article presents an overview of the development of the ultra-Orthodox political parties in Israel from the establishment of the State as well as insights as to future developments.
In February 1969, Golda Meir was appointed fourth prime minister of the State of Israel. Despite this achievement, the inclusion of women in Israel’s cabinets is far from impressive. Dr. Ofer Kenig explains that after 70 years of independence, the time has come for Israel’s governments to strive for true equality and reflect greater gender balance.
“The current system grants small parties disproportionate power, leads to excessive preoccupation with coalition management, does not provide strong incentives for creating an effective opposition, and leads to the allocation of over-sized budgets to sectoral interests. We need to create a system of incentives which will solidify the political system into two main blocs.” says Prof. Gideon Rahat
The five-year plan for the development of the Arab community was a giant step forward towards the socioeconomic advancement of Israel’s Arabs, nevertheless the current election campaign is going to be the acid test: Is the Israeli government serious about integrating the country’s Arab citizens into the broader society, or merely in promoting the Arab economy in light of its importance for the country’s overall prosperity?
The Ministerial Committee for Legislation is one of the most important ministerial committees in Israel but is not required to function in a transparent manner - it is time to change that.
The labor market is undergoing dramatic changes - is Israel ready?
How are judges appointed in Israel? Who sits on the committee? And why is it so important to maintain the balance between judicial independence and democratic accountability in the appointing process? Tune in to learn more with Dr. Guy Lurie
In its fight against terrorism, Israel has often been proud of its ability to effectively fight terrorism, while remaining faithful to democratic principles. House demolitions were always considered a necessary evil, which could be resorted to in very exceptional circumstances - are we now facing populist trends that runs contrary to the traditional ethos of subjecting counterterrorism policies to rule-of-law constraints.
More and more ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) Israelis are enlisting in the IDF, driven by personal, financial, and professional motives, with military service seen as an “entrance ticket” to Israeli society and to the labor market. But military service also introduces them to the shared components of identity and citizenship linking them to the state and its values, and enabling them to identify with others, from outside their community.
The steady increase in the percentage of women in Israel's parliament has not been accompanied by a concomitant rise in their cabinet representation. In this article, IDI researcher Dr. Ofer Kenig argues that the new government that will be formed following the 2019 elections provides Israel with a golden opportunity to rectify this situation.
Benjamin Netanyahu has announced that he will not step down even if indicted and will run for elections in three months. Where does the law stand? Dr. Guy Lurie explains
IDI’s 2018 report on ultra-Orthodox society is out - shedding light on changing trends in population, education, employment, and leisure in the ultra-Orthodox community in Israel.
The new reality in Israel in 2018 is complicated. The Israeli public is divided into two political blocs—the Right and the Center-Left- and they are at odds with each other in their understanding of the essence of democracy. Nevertheless, it seems that the many Israelis who define themselves as “Centrist” may take on the new task of identifying a common denominator between these two groups.
The majority of the public (53%) sees Israel’s situation in a positive light and is proud to be Israeli (88% of Jews and 51% of Arabs);
For the first time the #1 tension in Israeli society is the tension between Right and Left; Israel ranks high on international indicators of political participation
In response to a proposal by the Minister of Culture to make government funding of the arts contingent on a ministerial assessment of loyalty to the state, a number of Israeli cultural icons came together to illustrate the absurdity of the proposal.
The current parliamentary system in Israel is not too different from what happens at tenant meetings; it's almost impossible for decisions to be reached. With no clear majority, everyone looks out for their own narrow interests. The two largest political parties in Israel combined, don't even make up half of the seats in the Knesset, making Israeli politics a battlefield for the advancement of narrow sectorial interests. It's impossible to run a state like this!
In wake of Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman's surprise resignation yesterday, the country seems headed to elections. We must put an end to this political instability. This is not a question of left vs. right: establishing a system with two large political parties will encourage both to move closer to the center and represent the interests of Israeli society as a whole
Daphna Aviram-Nitzan and her team at IDI set out 18 months ago to resolve some of the heavy bureaucratic and regulatory burden with which the business sector must contend when establishing new manufacturing plants and doing business in Israel. The result is the “Regulatory One-Stop-Shop for Investors”, which was adopted in August 2018 by the government to improve the ease of doing business in Israel.
The digital domain has developed into something of a wild west for election campaigning in recent years. While there are strict laws governing the press, radio, and television, there are almost no restrictions on online campaigning, such as on the forms of advertising permitted, the use of personal data, and advertising budgets. This lack of regulation has already been shown to potentially affect election results, and may lead to the misuse of information on residents, routinely collected by the municipality as part of its function by those in positions of power in local government.
There is a glaring gap between the tremendous promise of Israel’s innovating workforce and the antiquated laws that constrain its productivity. In this video, IDI Senior Fellow Prof. Yotam Margalit proposes a series of changes to Israeli labor law, including new mechanisms for flexible working arrangements that will benefit both employers and employees.
Nasreen Hadad Haj-Yahya’s research finds that shared work spaces in Israel benefit both Jews and Arabs alike. Moreover, working together reduces alienation, erodes stereotypes, and contributes to the Israeli economy.
Recent years have seen the emergence of dozens of corruption scandals involving local government in Israel. Subsequently there have been calls to set mayoral term limits to prevent graft and corruption. Dr. Ofer Kenig and Shahaf Zamir's dispel the idea that there is a connection between the length of a mayors term and levels of corruption.
A recent law stripped local authorities of the power to decide on allowing commercial activity on Shabbat and handed it over to the Minister of the Interior, a development which was met with public uproar. Would it not be better to leave these powers in the hands of the municipalities, which act according to the profile of their resident population? Dr. Shuki Friedman makes the case for leaving these decisions in the hands of the local authority.
Tomorrow's elections will determine the local government in 251 cities, towns and municipalities. Of all the political parties represented at a national level in Israel, the ultra-Orthodox parties are the most successful in local government. What are the reasons behind this interesting trend? Read Dr. Gilad Malach's fascinating findings.
This article presents the main milestones in the recurring attempts to put a satisfactory arrangement for the deferment of military service for yeshiva students in place. In doing so, it surfaces the changes that have occurred over time in the constitutional, legal, and public responses and attitudes on this issue.
Alice Miller describes how the High Court of Justice helped change women’s military service and improve gender equality in the IDF
Attorney Yoav Laloum relates how by petitioning the High Court of Justice he was able to stop ethnic separation in ultra-Orthodox educational institutions
Ilil Leder, relates how she was able to achieve equality in education for her daughter and all special needs children with the help of the High Court of Justice
Batya Katar describes how she was able to make the state allocate the necessary budget to shield classrooms against rockets through the intervention of the High Court of Justice
The deputy president of the Jerusalem District Court inaugurated the Basic Law on Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People, issuing the first verdict based on it - imposing punitive damages on Hamas for the severe post-traumatic stress suffered by a Jewish Israeli wounded in a terror attack in Tel Aviv in 1998.
Half of the Jewish Israeli public think that Palestinians deserve an independent state, but believe that the two-state solution would be impossible to implement.
- “The decision is questionable. If the government is really interested in avoiding desecration of the Sabbath, and in ensuring a day of rest, it should focus its energy on stopping the illegal work currently being performed on the Sabbath, which according to reports by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor, is rarely done.
The “Regulatory Roadmap for Investors” was initiated against the backdrop of the heavy bureaucratic and regulatory burden with which the business sector must contend when establishing new manufacturing plants and doing business in Israel.
How can Israel - a light to the nations, and homeland for the Jewish People, fail to embrace equality for all, alongside commitment to the diaspora?
The Israel Democracy Institute issued a letter to the Prime Minister regarding the Nation State Billl, asserting that if the value of equality is not anchored in the legislation alongside the other enumerated national characteristics of the state, the law may eventually erode Israel's democratic character
Israel’s supporters, who have the nation’s best interests at heart, should resist the urge to engage in partisan smear campaigns that attempt to tarnish the reputations of patriots who are on the frontlines of the struggle for Israel’s legitimacy as a Jewish and democratic state. We have enough enemies on our borders.
Dr. Peter Jarrett, the head of the Country Studies Division at the OECD, says the government must do more to integrate all Israelis into the economy if it is to continue to prosper and grow. "Boasting that Arabs and Ultra-Orthodox Aside, Israel's Situation is Excellent - is Simply shortsighted and Foolish."
More than 25 years ago, the “Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty” affirmed that Israel is a “Jewish” and “democratic” state but did not define either of these terms in the Israeli context. Now is the time for us to turn to the Jewish identity that has been adopted by a large portion of Israel’s Jews and allow it to shape the country’s Jewish character.
On the practical side, religious conversion hasn’t ‘delivered the goods’ so far. Although it has been officially declared a national mission, less than 10 percent of non-Jewish immigrants and their offspring have completed the process. As a result, one in 20 non-Arab Israelis isn’t recognized as a Jew, despite having made aliyah under the Law of Return.
The government’s conduct and the public’s indifference have far-reaching implications – and not only from a utilitarian perspective. Diaspora Jewry’s economic, political and cultural contributions to the State of Israel are no longer guaranteed, but above all, the unity of the Jewish people around the globe as one nation is under threat
Following the approval of the “Cabinet Law,” allowing the government to delegate its authority to declare war to the National Security Cabinet, IDI Senior Professor Prof. Amichai Cohen, and expert on national security law, contends that the bill addresses a critical issue but has been passed too hastily
Ron Huldai, Mayor of Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality: "The establishment of the Democracy Pavilion is an impressive demonstration of Israeli democracy. Only in a democratic society can freedom and tolerance co-exist. This is what allows the opposing sectors of Israeli society to live side by side." The Democracy Pavilion is located at the start of the Independence Trail in Tel Aviv and is open to the public free of charge.
A special survey conducted by the Guttman Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research at the
Israel Democracy Institute finds: The majority of the Israeli public fears that implementation of the Override Clause by the Knesset will give unlimited power to politicians and lead to an increase in political corruption
The proposed amendment which will strip the Supreme Court of the power to invalidate legislation (“the British model”), or alternatively, would allow the Knesset, by a vote of 61 of its members to reinstate a law that the court has struck down (“the override clause”) pose a grave threat to every single Israeli citizen.
The Democracy Pavilion, a unique multi-media experience, in full 360 degree technology, showcasing the values embedded in Israel’s Declaration of Independence, is open to the public.
After months of preparation, we are proud to inaugurate, along with the Tel-Aviv-Yafo Municipality, the Democracy Pavilion, celebrating 70 years of Israel’s independence. A unique multi-media experience, in full 360-degree technology, showcasing the values embedded in Israel’s Declaration of Independence and the historic highlights of 70 years of independence.
A special update from the Peace Index by Tel Aviv University and the Israel Democracy Institute shows that that two-thirds of the Jews in Israel eat kosher for Passover outside the home and prepare the their house for the holiday - but 58% oppose the ban on cafes and restaurants from serving chametz (bread).
61% of the Jewish and Arab public believes that it is very likely that moving the American embassy to Jerusalem for Israel’s 70th Independence Day, will ignite an outbreak of violence. Nevertheless, 69% of the Jewish public think that even in light of the expectation of violence, Israel should not ask the Americans to postpone the move
Despite the transformation of Israeli society, the IDF’s model of service has not changed. Military service continues to be a rite of passage for young Israelis and the IDF retains its status as the most trusted institution in Israel. Prof. Yuval Shany, Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Orna Barbivai and Prof. Amichai Cohen sit down to discuss the challenges facing the IDF and Israeli society in a changing security environment.
The nation state law is the "identity law" of the state, and this will have a revolutionary significance, since democracy is not mentioned in it.
27 years after Kahane’s murder, Jewish extremists praise the rabbi, calling him a righteous prophet whose politics were ahead of his time. Like Kahane, Gopstein’s ultimate dream is an Israel that operates according to Jewish law, or Halacha, where the only Arabs who live there are those loyal to a Jewish theocracy. “At this rate,” he says of Palestinian citizens of Israel, “it’s either us or them”
The state of Israel has also been grappling in recent years with an intense controversy over the service of women in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), which recently came to a boiling point with the amendment of the “Joint Service Order,” which sets out guidelines for women’s military service alongside Orthodox men
"The facts revealed yesterday by the police are deeply troubling. Faced with this reality, all those who consider themselves leaders in our community, must come forth and make their position clear, rejecting such conduct forthrightly, lest moral decay spreads through our civil service and public’s trust in the government plummets.”
In recent years we have seen one Prime Minister, several ministers and numerous mayors charged and convicted on corruption. But most people enter politics for idealistic reasons and with good intentions. So what went wrong?
For decades, religious and ultra-Orthodox members of Knesset, backed and encouraged by their rabbis, have worked to inject the secular state with as much Judaism as possible. Over the course of 70 years, the results of this ongoing effort have been minimal, but the price paid by Judaism has been great.
The Israeli government’s plans to deport en masse thousands of persons in need of international protection to undiscolsed ‘third contries’ pursuant to secret (denied, and effectively unenforcable) agreements are deeply troubling from a refugee and human rights law perspective. They should be called off.
As the Knesset celebrates its 69th birthday on Tuesday, Jan. 30, here is a chance to see how you score on knowledge of Israel's parliament. What did Israel's lawmakers do before joining the Knesset? What did they do after leaving? what are the benchmark requirement to becoming an MK? How many are currently serving their first term? Let's play!
In Honor of Israel's 70th Anniversary The Guttman Center for Public Opinion Research and Policy at the Israel Democracy Institute Is Launching “Data-Israel”: The largest and most encompassing online public opinion research database in Israel at the click of a button.
On the complex relationship between Arabs and Jews in Israel and the secret to bringing down the walls of fear and prejudice
As calls for a "majoritarian democracy" gain strength in Israel, IDI's President warns of the dangers associated with a tyranny of the majority, and makes the case for a richer interpretation of democracy, grounded in the principles of liberty, equality and the separation of powers.
Israel's political system is being held hostage by sectorial parties, which promote policies that only serve small interest groups. The annulment of the Kotel compromise, the Sabbath supermarket closure bill, the death penalty for terrorists bill, the so-called "Litzman Law" – are all products of a system that weakens the governing party and incentivizes political extortion. We must take control of our fate. Now is the time to empower our representatives to act on behalf of the national interest.
"Weak media leads to fake news"
David Zeev (Reshet Bet) talks to Dr. Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler,
The panel: Is it Trump, Zuckerberg or US - Whose Fault is Fake News? was held at the Globes-Israel Business Conference in Jerusalem on January 11, 2018.
In light of President Trump's Declaration on Jerusalem: a large majority of the Jewish public think President Trump’s public declaration that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel was in Israel's best interest; a clear majority (over 60%) of the Israeli public agrees that Jerusalem is already divided into two cities: the eastern city and the western city
How many ultra-Orthodox live in Israel today? How many will watch this clip on the internet? How are ultra-Orthodox women transforming their community? How many are employed? What age to they get married?
The Israeli High Court of Justice’s Dec. 12 decision in Abu Ghosh v. Attorney-General provides a good opportunity to reexamine the implementation of the prohibition against torture in Israeli law almost twenty years after the court’s landmark 1999 judgment in Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, which outlawed torture.
Six countries – Canada, Germany, India, Israel, Poland and South Africa – are paradigm examples of modern constitutional systems where rights may be limited through the application
of a constitutional limitations clause. In each jurisdiction, the constitutionality of a rights limitation has come to rely on the principle of proportionality, and the key exercise in judicially reviewing a rights limitation is the proportionality analysis.
Widespread dissatisfaction with Israel's leadership and institutions; Most Israelis believe Knesset has legislated undemocratic laws and oppose taking powers of judicial review away from Supreme Court; Israelis distrust the media and rely more on traditional media than social media; Israelis are optimistic in their assessment of the overall situation of the country and its future; Israeli citizens rank high in OECD scale on political involvement
“If anything could jeopardize the IDF’s ability to fulfill its mission, it would be loss of the public’s trust. This trust is crucial to our ability to recruit young people every year and demand that they serve in the best units and risk their lives to protect Israel’s security.”
Listen to Chief of Staff, Gen. Gadi Eizenkot’s speech at the "Liberal Democracies and Their Fight against Terror" Workshop, held within the framework of IDI’s Amnon Lipkin-Shahak Program on National Security and Democracy
The monthly Peace Index of the Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University, published today, found that Israelis think that the forces that unite Israeli Jews and American Jews are stronger than the forces that separate them; a significant portion of the public believe that the Prime Minister failed to deal with the Iranian threat; and a significant majority of the public think that the Recommendations Law should not be approved
There are ways to transform this powerful committee into one that combines politics with professionalism, instead of being one more arena for the settling of political scores.
The State of Israel needs to come up with appropriate living solutions for the ultra-Orthodox, whose numbers are expected to increase significantly.
Yesh Atid, Zionist Camp and Meretz have the strongest online presence, while the Joint List and Yisrael Beiteinu lag behind.
Despite the verdict, the real story in the Azaria affair is the moral, not the legal, issue, and this debate is alive and well.
Israel's Military Censor, an institution that has no parallel in any other democracy in the world, must cease to exist.
Cyber-terrorism, terror committed via a computer, is a complex threat which countries all over the world are struggling to outsmart. In this article originally published in Hebrew in Parliament, the Israel Democracy Institute's online journal, Karin Tamar Schafferman explains that fighting cyber-terrorism is "battling an enemy without borders", a truly challenging phenomenon. She warns that the consequences of cyber-terrorism could in fact be more severe than acts of conventional terrorism.
In an op-ed soon to be published by the Jerusalem Report, the former head of the Shin Bet security service argues that mutual responsibility is the cornerstone on which the resilience of Israeli society is founded, and is most strongly expressed in the commitment of the government of Israel to do everything possible to secure the release of its captured soldiers.
A special IDI survey shows that 70% of secular Israelis believe that in recent years life in the public sphere has tended to favor the ultra-Orthodox and religious; over one-third of religious Israelis and 80% of people who define themselves as not religious but traditional either support the separation of religion from state or reducing religious influence on life in Israel.
The European Court of Human Rights’ ('ECtHR') use of proportionality and balancing is inconsistent and does not provide clear guidelines from which policies can be drafted such that those policies can strike a fair balance between individual rights and public interests while not impairing the essence of the rights at stake. While ad hoc and unprincipled balancing may be justified on a theoretical level, on a practical level, a policymaker seeking to understand which rights’ interferences constitute clear violations under the European Convention on Human Rights ('ECHR') is left puzzled.
Those who get their information about Israel from the outside, might think the situation in Israel is not so great. But inside Israel, citizens are fairly proud, unified and optimistic.
The author proposes a number of policy recommendations that could help Israel’s Arab population, and could be applicable to any society that suffers from socioeconomic segregation and related challenges. This article was first published by Jmore.
Israel has been in a state of emergency since 1948. But the nature of the threat has changed over-time—from full-scale military invasions to isolated airplane hijackings, from suicide bombings to missile attacks, and most recently, cyber and lone wolf terrorism.
These ever-evolving threats necessitate new responses and strategies.
The ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) that a company is permitted to terminate its worker for wearing religious dress is a sad demonstration of the words of Ecclesiastes: “And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there.”
The four new Judicial Appointments Committee selections to the Supreme Court last month have led to the usual partisan responses, breaking down along the lines of “winners” and “losers.” Despondent claims of an “anti-constitutional revolution” are being made simultaneously with celebratory assertions of “making history.” The facts, however, are quite different.
Religious Zionism is based on a nationalistic, even hawkish, position on foreign affairs. Such an ethos, especially in the Middle East, thus demands a great willingness to sacrifice. However, this desire to serve the greater good can only be maintained over time if a sense of solidarity and mutual responsibility unites the members of Israeli society.
As the IDF's military court handed down its verdict in the case of Elor Azaria, the soldier accused by the military prosecutor of shooting and killing a terrorist who no longer constituted a clear and present danger, it is an appropriate moment to recall the recent experience of another soldier in another army.
Ahead of a recent discussion by the Ministerial Committee on Legislation on the “Facebook Bill,” IDI’s Dr. Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler wrote a policy statement in which she called the bill non-applicable to the modern day. She said the bill is likely to cause disproportionate censorship through what will be dysfunctional legal proceedings.
In this op-ed IDI's Amichay Ayalon and Idit Shafran-Gittleman argue that the challenge of combatting terrorism requires security concerns to be weighed against the values of a free society. The prevailing attitude among supporters of Hebron shooter Elor Azaria of allowing the security mantra to trump any other concerns may lead to short-term military success, but will be a moral loss for Israel, both on the home front and in the international sphere. This op-ed originally appeared in Haaretz.
Dr. Ofer Kenig discusses the multiple ways in which the United States has facilitated the voting process in order to improve voter turnout, and suggests that Israel adopt a number of these innovations. This op-ed originally appeared in the Jerusalem Post.
Dr. Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler argues that the Protection of Privacy Law does not create an absolute right, and whoever enters public life must be able to give up parts of his/her privacy, no matter how difficult that might be. This op-ed originally appeared in the Atlanta Jewish Times.
While Europeans are trying to maintain their sense of ownership over the public sphere, restrictions on religious expression in the public domain strike at Muslims’ most basic of rights: to continue living their lives as guided by the dictates of their own conscience. Will there be a religious-based civil war? This article was first published by the Independent Journal Review.
The upcoming High Holidays are an opportunity to expand our perception beyond our selves and communities. This article was first published by the New York Jewish Week.
Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is an opportunity to stop and ponder how much we love to forget or forget to love. This article was originally published by the Jewish Journal.
It is time for all of us to rethink the desired character of the Israeli Shabbat. This article was originally published by Times of Israel.
Although one need not agree with the positions held by Israel’s Arab citizens, it can’t be denied that they constitute an independent, moderate voice – and a promising political middle ground on the Palestine- Israeli conflict. This article first appeared in The Jerusalem Post.
When a sizable portion of our decision-makers have that difficulty, and “digital illiteracy” becomes evident in the upper echelons where decisions are made, we’ve got a problem. This article was first published by The Jerusalem Post.
IDI President Yohanan Plesner argues that electoral reform will not suffice to fix the short-term-ism that is destroying Israel's capacity for long-term planning and policy execution; reform of the internal processes of the parties themselves is required. This op-ed first appeared in the Jerusalem Report.
IDI's Shuki Friedman laments the existence of separate education systems for each sector of Israel's population, which reinforce, rather than bridge societal divides. This op-ed first appeared on Times of Israel.
The expected election of Hillary Clinton as the next president of the United States will affect Israel in a great number of ways, but one of them is rather different and unexpected: Her election will certainly influence the question of religion and state. This op-ed was first published by Haaretz.
The Second Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed, as tradition has it, because of groundless hatred between Jews. IDI's Yedidia Stern takes this opportunity on Tisha B'Av to reflect on the current culture war in Israel, and urge citizens to focus on the covenant of destiny that binds us, rather than the divisions between us.
Israel needs to abandon the vindictive approach of trying to reform ultra-Orthodox society through force and budget cuts, and rather start investing heavily in education and job creation in the ultra-Orthodox sector. This op-ed was first published in the New York Jewish Week.
Love him or hate him, Donald Trump’s once unthinkable ascension became a reality earlier this month, following a largely drama-free roll call vote on the Republican National Convention floor. Trump is a prime example of a candidate whose vision and ideas are not a direct reflection of his party's values and policies, and who, in many ways, battled his way to the top of the party. His nomination is just one example of a current trend toward political personalization, a process in which the influence of individual leaders in the political process has increased, as the centrality of the political group declines.
Some 76 years ago, on August 4, Ze'ev Jabotinsky, one of the most prominent Zionist thinkers and leaders, founder and head of the Revisionist movement, Betar youth group and the Irgun paramilitary organization, died prematurely. It is interesting to explore his views on matters related to democracy and liberalism.
Liberal democracy is in crisis everywhere. We in Israel have our share of problems. Our democracy is far from perfect, and it is under massive pressures — both external and internal. But all in all, if we look at the world around us, Israel is doing rather well. This article was originally published by the Atlanta Jewish Times.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu concluded a visit to East Africa. Uganda is doubly symbolic in collective Jewish-Israeli memory. In 1903, the ‘Uganda proposal’ put the territory forward as a supposedly alternative site for Jewish self-determination; the Zionist Congress rejected it. And Uganda was also the site of the Entebbe raid on 3-4 July 1976, when an Israeli commando squad rescued 103 civilians being held hostage after a plane was hijacked en route from Israel to France.
Dr. Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler argues that the main reason the coup in Turkey fizzled is not because of Erdogan’s FaceTime message, but because he had been anticipating this putsch for quite a few years and had arranged the entire legal apparatus that governs the relationship between the Turkish government and the media accordingly.
The relationship between religion and state in Israel is stormy. Lately, it seems the ultra-Orthodox have launched a new offensive on several fronts. This op-ed was originally published by JNS.org.
No aspect of the current Western Wall plaza arrangement, in which the Orthodox maintain a monopoly, will change if other denominations are allowed to pray at the foot of the Temple Mount in a new plaza. This article was first published by The Jerusalem Post.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced recently that Israel and Turkey had reached an agreement leading to reconciliation between the two countries – and the Knesset approved the deal. Now the question becomes: will the deal have the impact Israeli soldiers are hoping for? Originally published by the Jerusalem Post.
IDI's Guttman Center for Surveys examines Israelis' attitudes towards the continued presence in the territories as we move into the 50th year following the Six Day War. Participants discuss the security situation, their factual knowledge of the situation in the West Bank, and their predictions for the future of the territories.
What does Shabbat and its observance look like in the State of Israel? Can every individual enjoy this day of rest in the way he/she chooses? Are there actually individuals who are forced to give up Shabbat as a result of a lack of choice or economic coercion? IDI scholar Dr. Shuki Friedman explains in this article which originally appeared on eJewish Philanthropy.
In Britain, nationwide referendums are a rare event. This development highlights an issue that many of today's democracies are struggling with: the ongoing tension between direct and representative democracy. Is a national referendum a shining example of the democratic ideal put to practice, or does it represents deterioration to cheap populism?
The Jewish people have been debating questions of Jewish identity and the definition of "who is a Jew" for thousands of years. While this debate has worn different faces and taken on different shapes at different times, it is a debate that has weighed on all sects and sectors of Jewish society. However, with the formation of the State of Israel, and especially over recent years, there is a palpable feeling that there are two nations caring out separate and different discussions. One lives and operates out of Israel; the other is overseas. This op-ed originally appeared in the Jewish Week.
Last week, the Knesset Law, Constitution and Justice Committee began deliberating over a proposal that would fundamentally alter the Basic Law – The Knesset: The MK Suspension Bill. If passed, the proposed bill would grant members of Knesset the power to remove another parliamentarian. This op-ed originally appeared in the Jerusalem Post.
An Israel Democracy Institute survey of 76 top Israeli businesspeople (C-suite) revealed that only 59 percent believe the Israeli business press is truly independent. The survey, shared during the final session of IDI's Eli Hurvitz Conference on Economy and Society also showed that a minority (38%) believe that the business press influences the Israeli economy.
In this op-ed, which first appeared on the Times of Israel, IDI's Ofer Kenig argues that it is time to cautiously expand the right of absentee voting to more Israelis.
Old anti-Semitism insisted that Jews had no place in the national community. New anti-Semitism insists that Israel has no place in the international community, explains Vernon Bogdanor, professor of government at King's College, London and a member of IDI's International Advisory Council. "Modern anti-Semitism begins by singling out Jews for the deprivation of the right of self-determination. Its final aim is the elimination of Israel," writes Bogdanor in an op-ed published by the Jewish Chronicle.
Legal proportionality is one of the most important principles for adjudicating among conflicting values. However, rather little is known about the factors that play a role in the formation of proportionality judgments. This research presents the first empirical analysis in this regard, relying on a sample of 331 legal experts (lawyers and legal academics).
The Supreme Court’s decision to recognize conversions performed by private Orthodox rabbinical courts in Israel is nothing less than a historic drama. The immediate significance is the loss of the Chief Rabbinate’s Orthodox monopoly over conversions, but it’s also a milestone in the privatization of religious services on the road to the Chief Rabbinate’s loss of relevance. Originally published by Haaretz.
The Oscar award-winning “Spotlight” captures the mix of frustration, joy, drudgery and thrill that goes into every great investigative story, reminding viewers of the power of investigative journalism to reveal the abuse of power in the public and private sectors. Could the Pulitzer-prize winning work of the Boston Globe be replicated today?
One of the most fundamental principles of democratic government is the delicate system of checks and balances that prevents the arbitrary exercise of power by the majority. Israel, the sole democracy in a dangerous and unstable neighborhood, has long been an exemplar of these checks and balances. We cannot allow Israel's democratic foundations to gradually erode. Israel’s survival and prosperity hinge, in the final analysis, on its democratic vitality.
The start-up nation owes it success to the democratic system of government established by its founders. Israel’s liberal democracy not only unleashes the creative talents of individual Israelis, it fosters a business environment favorable for the establishment of companies with disruptive potential on a global scale. However, Israel’s continued success should not be taken for granted. Indeed, there are a number of signs that Israeli governance may be weakening.
In an op-ed first published by The Jerusalem Report, Prof. Yedidia Stern says this intifada of knives has left Israel in a twilight zone. It is not a time of war, in which the army is permitted to use arms more freely. But nor is it a time of peace in which any use of arms is seen as most irregular. Sharp differences of opinion between the public and the army could lead to a crisis in public confidence in the military high command. There is a crying need for responsible leadership.
IDI's Prof. Amichai Cohen explains why Israel had to launch a swift and effective investigation into the actions of the solider that shot a neutralized terrorist in Hebron. This article originally appeared on the Times of Israel
Are home demolitions legal? And are they effective? Both IDF commanders and Israeli Supreme Court judges have raised doubts on the matter. In an op-ed published by The Jerusalem Post, IDI's Tal Mimran says the time has come to reevaluate Israeli policy.
Few stories illustrate the unfeeling and aggressive attitude of the Israeli government toward the Arab-Bedouin population of the Negev as well as the case of Atir-Umm al-Hiran. In this op-ed, which was first published by JTA, Eli Bahar and Thabet Abu Ras of the Abraham Fund discuss Israel's obligations toward its minority citizens.
Earlier this month, change snuck in through the back door of Israel's court system when Israel’s first ultra-Orthodox judge was appointed. This article was first published by the Jewish Press.
The Peace Index has shown us that when it comes to the political situation, the majority of the Israeli Jewish population is in a conceptual fog. On the one hand, the Israeli center and center-left has become growingly frustrated and disillusioned with the option of peace as it was perceived in the early ‘90s. On the other hand, the center and center-right have come to acknowledge that there must be a solution and that this solution could mean some type of splitting of the land, most probably a two-state solution. This article was first published by the Jerusalem Post.
IDI Vice President Yedidia Stern says, "There is no way to justify this ultra-Orthodox sectarianism, as it prevents others from having the freedom to exercise their religion at public facilities. Allowing ritual baths to be monopolized by the Rabbinate would cause grave harm without any commensurate benefit."
This article was first published by Times of Israel.
The Knesset is currently considering a proposed amendment, sponsored by the Prime Minister, to Basic Law: The Knesset. It would allow a special majority of 90 Knesset members to suspend an MK for an unlimited period of time. In effect, this would be tantamount to an expulsion, with the suspended parliamentarian replaced by the next person on his or hers party’s candidates list. This article was first published by JNS.org.
The integration of talented Arab employees into Israel’s hi-tech sector could relieve the human-resources shortage for employers. Encouraging Arabs to enter the hi-tech industry could improve their economic situation significantly, which would reduce inequality and contribute to a reduction of social tensions in the Arab community.
On Monday, February 1, 2016, the long and complex process in which the two major American parties choose their candidates for president began in Iowa. One of those two candidates will be the 45th President of the United States. What exactly are the presidential primaries? What makes them so long and complicated? What is their timetable and who, for now, are the main candidates?
Prof. Amichai Cohen argues that there is only one good way to prevent prosecution of Israeli soldiers abroad: Israeli authorities must conduct effective, independent, and genuine investigations in cases where there are suspicions of war crimes or other violations. This article was first published by Times of Israel.
How long will we continue to recite the mantra that “technology cannot be stopped?” To what extent will we take a stand and cease to permit bad social engineering? This article was originally published by The Jerusalem Post.
In the aftermath of the Tel-Aviv terror attack, it is becoming increasingly clear that the current round of terror will not end soon. When there are casualties of attacks, not only do security issues arise, but so do medical issues – and these can be equally as complicated. This article originally appeared in Crescent City Jewish News.
Following the publication of the Poverty Report, Dr. Sami Miaari points out the large percentage of Arab Israelis that live in poverty. He says the current situation requires a new strategy and economic investment on several levels simultaneously. This article first appeared on Times of Israel.
IDI Researcher Chanan Cohen says that while the greatest tension in Israel is between Arab and Jewish Israelis, there is cause for hope. The vast majority of Jews support having Arabic translations of public signs in Israel, teaching Arabic in school and having Arab citizens represented in the civil service. This article was first posted in the New York Jewish Week.
The desired result could have been achieved quietly and efficiently had the Knesset adopted a rational arrangement that would encourage military service through positive and negative economic incentives. (This article was originally published in the Jewish Journal of LA.)
Dr. Amir Fuchs delivers the following message: While Israeli security forces must fight terror using all legal means available to them, Israeli leaders have another and no less important role: to maintain the democratic character of the state. This is especially the case when it comes to equality, minority rights and defending the innocent from acts of revenge and/or lynching.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must charge forward and turn his words into action. Only then will he be able to guarantee his vision of Israel as “a source of unity for our people.” (This article was first published by JNS.org.)
Arab elected officials have disappointed the public time after time with their lack of professionalism in how they lead their constituents toward political change. (This article was originally published by the Jerusalem Post.)
The Israeli High Court's claim that home demolitions need not be applied to Jews because they support terror less than Palestinians must be rejected. (This article was originally published by Haaretz.)
Is demolishing terrorists' homes an effective deterrent? Israel Democracy Institute research – based on previous work conducted by the security establishment – has cast a doubt on its value. There was also a research report published in 2005 by a professional committee led by Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Udi Shani, which led to the cessation of house demolitions for three years.
A society that is doomed to live forever by the sword cannot hope to be truly humanist and democratic. Originally published in the Jerusalem Report.
Twenty years have passed since Yigal Amir murdered Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Both for political reasons and for the sake of national unity, Israeli society has avoided a fundamental and straightforward examination of the background, meaning, and implications of this event. But unity cannot be based on whitewash or false symmetry between left and right. The following is an invitation to conduct the kind of inquiry that is necessary.
Nasreen Hadad Haj-Yahya and Eli Bahar say the biggest difference between the security situations in 2000 and now is the profound lack of understanding between the two sides. This article was first published on the Times of Israel website.
Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler reminds us that the media is the cement that holds the stones of democracy together. As the arbiter of reality, the purpose of the media is to show us, the citizens, what is going on around us. To the same extent, it is also supposed to reflect our feelings and our level of trust in the decision-makers and representatives whom we elect to govern us.
IDI President Yohanan Plesner says that even after 20 years, the assassination of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin remains the Israeli democracy's breaking point. He calls on all peoples and their leaders to develop a joint democratic vision.
In this memoir, Prof. Yedidia Stern recounts the murder of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and calls on the Israeli public to turn that horrid day into an annual “Israeli Democracy Day." This article was first published in the Jerusalem Post.
The High Holy Days are a time of reflection and personal growth. But since the founding of the State of Israel, personal repentance is no longer enough. IDI Vice President Yedidia Stern stresses the need to transform Jewish traditions from the personal sphere to the public sphere and calls for collective, national repentance, Israeli style.
IDI researcher Dr. Ruvi Ziegler appraises the judgment of the Israeli Supreme Court in the third round of constitutional challenges to legislation authorizing detention of asylum-seekers in Israel. He critiques the judicial assessment of explicit and hidden legislative objectives, the role of international refugee law in the decision, and the normative question of irregular entry of asylum-seekers, and highlights legal challenges concerning the removal of asylum-seekers from Israel to third states.
Professor Yedidia Stern argues that the question of how we should relate to the Temple Mount is more complex than any other issue on the public agenda in Israel. This question must be discussed in three parallel dimensions—religious, national, and liberal. This poses a serious challenge, which must be approached with the utmost sensitivity.
IDI President Yohanan Plesner writes that while democracy may be considered a fragile regime that has difficulties coping with extremism, there are still powerful means in the democratic toolbox that can and must be utilized to deal with the threats of homegrown terrorism and hatred of the "other", which can undermine Israel's character as a democratic state.
On Wednesday, May 27, 2015, IDI Research Fellow Dr. Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler, head of Media Reform and Open Government Projects, chaired a session entitled “The New Journalism: How Digital Media Changed the Rules” at an international conference in Jerusalem. On this page, the session can be viewed in its entirety.
IDI Vice President Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer and Noam Lautman, Chairman of the Lautman Fund, recommend ways in which the Israeli educational system can strengthen democratic values, and warn that students should not be forced to choose between two competing alternatives—Israel as a nation-state or as a "state of all its citizens."
On Tuesday March 30, 2015, the 120 members of the 20th Knesset will be sworn in. About one third of them are new faces, and almost a quarter are women. How many religious MKs are in the Knesset? Which is the "youngest" parliamentary group? Dr. Ofer Kenig explores the demographic attributes of the 120 members of Knesset.
A discussion of the Palestinian Authority's declarations to the International Criminal Court (ICC), the changes that influenced the ICC prosecutor's decision to accept the PA's second declaration, and the conditions that must be fulfilled in order for the ICC to apply its jurisdiction to IDF actions or to the settlement enterprise.
The demise of the 19th Knesset was hastened by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's firing of Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni. In the article below, IDI researcher Dr. Ofer Kenig discusses the various grounds for firing ministers in the past and how the current case fits into Israeli political practice.