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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Legal proportionality is one of the most important principles for adjudicating among conflicting values. However, little is known about the factors that play a role in the formation of proportionality judgments. This research presents the first empirical analysis on this subject, based on a sample of 331 lawyers and legal academics.
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.
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.
In the lines below, Hanoch Marmari, former editor of Haaretz and current editor of The Seventh Eye, an independent on-line journal dedicated to critique of the media, defends <em>Israel Hayom</em>'s right to exist as a free newspaper, notwithstanding his professional qualms about the quality of its journalism.
IDI Researcher Attorney Eli Bahar discusses the central role that members of Israel's system of legal counsel play in formulating the rules of what is permissible during warfare in real time, during the fighting, in order to ensure that Israel's citizens will not be ashamed of themselves after the fighting ceases.
On June 4, 2014, IDI experts Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer and Attorney Amir Fuchs submitted a legal opinion to the Ministerial Committee on Legislation stating their concerns about the proposed Basic Law: Israel as the Nation State of the Jewish People. A full translation of this legal opinion can be found below.
To facilitate the entry of haredim into academia and the workforce, the state and private industry have invested hundreds of millions of shekels in recent years to create ultra-Orthodox frameworks to support individuals who are looking for academic education and employment while also remaining loyal to their cultural mores. As a result, nearly 80 percent of ultra-Orthodox women are now employed, on par with secular Jewish Israeli women.
What percentage of Jews in Israel define themselves as Reform or Conservative? What is their ethnic origin? Do they see themselves as being on the political and economic Right or Left? This article provides a glimpse into denominations of Judaism that exist in Israel, but for which there is very little current data.
In an op-ed in <em>Maariv</em>, IDI Vice President Mordechai Kremnitzer and Attorney Amir Fuchs warn that the proposed amendment to Israel's Anti-Defamation Law, which would allow IDF soldiers to bring a class action suit for libel when the operational activities in which they participated are criticized in the media, will have the opposite of its intended effect.
הצעת החוק להפיכת הצבא למקצועי ולא לחובה – שגויה מיסודה. מושג ה-"שוויון בנטל" יתמוסס ברגע שיעמידו את הצעיר הישראלי למבחן הקריירה מול השרות הצבאי. לפי ההלכה היהודית הגיוס לצבא אינו "נטל" אלא "מצוה". אתה מתגייס לצבא כי אתה מבקש לקחת חלק באחריות הקולקטיבית של שיבת העם היהודי לארצו. נכון, לשיטתו של אייכלר הצבא יהפוך להיות פח הזבל של מעוטי יכולת ונוער שוליים.
Israeli voters are increasingly influenced by the personality of the party head rather than by the party's ideology. In this op-ed, written before the 2013 Knesset elections, Prof. Gideon Rahat, head of IDI's Political Reform project, shares his thoughts on the cult of personality in Israeli politics.
Israel's launch of Operation "Pillar of Defense" just before the elections for the 19th Knesset is reminiscent of the launch of "Operation Cast Lead" before the elections of 2009. Should the elections be postponed? Dr. Dana Blander discusses elections during times of war, in Israel and abroad, from an historical-legal perspective.
A bill entitled "Basic Law: Israel – The Nation State of the Jewish People" is currently being considered by the Knesset. Although it was sponsored by a large number of Knesset members from a both the coalition and the opposition, the bill is controversial as it may disrupt the delicate balance between the "Jewish" and "democratic" identities of the State of Israel. In this op-ed, IDI Vice-President Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer and Researcher Adv. Shiri Krebs argue that the bill is unnecessary and counterproductive to the goal of a Jewish and democratic Israel.
In an op-ed published in The Jerusalem Post, IDI Director of International Communications Yehoshua Oz argues that a central group of larger parties is needed instead of the small parties that have inundated Israeli politics over the last two decades, in order to provide stability and avoid the need for coalitions of many small parties, each with their own special-interest demands.
In an op-ed in The Jerusalem Post, IDI's Prof. Yedidia Stern, who served on the Plesner Committee for Equality in National Service, and Mr. Jay Ruderman analyze the Haredi community's reluctance to serve in the Israeli army and present an approach that will facilitate Haredi integration into Israel's army and society.
Israeli politicians deemed the attack of a group of Arab teens by a group of Jewish teens to be the act of "bad apples" who don't represent the norm. In the following op-ed, however, IDI researcher Attorney Amir Fuchs warns that the radicalization of Israeli youth is the fruit of a poisonous tree being cultivated in the Knesset itself.
Will the High Court of Justice’s refusal to extend the Tal Law indeed reduce the inequality of burden sharing in Israeli society? IDI Senior Fellow Prof. Momi Dahan does not think so, and argues that ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel should be exempted from the army and allowed to work, so as to assume their fair share of the tax burden.
Are there gaps in the level of formal education required of elementary school teachers in the Arab and Jewish sectors in Israel and the level of education that they actually attain? Dr. Nabil Khattab, head of IDI’s Arab-Jewish Relations project, explores this question as part of an attempt to understand gaps in achievement between Jewish and Arab schools.
In response to the preliminary passage of an amendment that would exempt religious educational institutions from complying with accessibility requirement, a group of leading Israeli rabbis appealed to Israel's elected officials and requested their intervention to prevent the exemption from applying to religious schools. Rabbi Shay Piron, who directs IDI's work in this field under the auspices of IDI's Human Rights and Judaism project, coordinated this important effort.
Following the dissolution of the Committee to Advance Equality in Sharing the Burden, committee head MK Yohanan Plesner submitted proposals for alternatives to the Tal Law. In this article, IDI Researcher Attorney Haim Zicherman, who served as the content coordinator of the Plesner Committee, warns that some of those measures were personal recommendations rather than recommendations of the Committee, and may reverse trends of increasing army service by ultra-Orthodox Jews.
In an op-ed in The Jerusalem Post, Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer and Prof. Yuval Shany discuss the need for measures, laws, and institutions designed to combat the war on terror in order to strike a balance between concern for national security and the need to safeguard democratic values such as human rights and the rule of law.
On May 30th, 2012 Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein announced his intention to indict <em>Haaretz</em> journalist Uri Blau on charges of aggravated espionage for his role in the Anat Kamm affair. IDI Senior Researcher Dr. Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler, head of the Institute's Media Reform Project, responds to this decision.
Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer presents a contrasting view to Prof. Yedidia Stern's assertion that the Israeli Supreme Court's ruling on the exemption of ultra-Orthodox men from military service in Israel is "<a href="http://en.idi.org.il/analysis/articles/judicial-activism-at-its-height">Judicial Activism at its Height</a>."
The nocturnal formation of a new coalition, just as legislation to dissolve the Knesset was about to be passed, left many wondering if this was Israeli politics at its best or at its worst. Dr. Dana Blander explores both sides of this episode, which is likely to redefine what is forbidden, permitted, and worthwhile in Israeli politics.
What kind of state are we celebrating when we commemorate Israel Independence Day? Prof. Yedidia Stern discusses the tension between the "Jewish" and "democratic" aspects of Israeli's identity and explores the attacks of the concept "Jewish state" by three fundamentalist camps: religious, ultra-nationalist, and liberal.
Why didn't the religious community in Israel participate in the socio-economic protest of the summer of 2011? IDI Senior Fellow Prof. Shahar Lifshitz reflects on this question and discusses the need to develop a pluralistic language that includes both particularistic Jewish values and universal democratic values.
The death of John Demjanjuk of natural causes at a ripe old age left many Israelis feeling that an opportunity for justice was missed. Did the Israeli legal system fail when it acquitted Demjanjuk of crimes against humanity? IDI Vice President Prof. Yedidia Stern distinguishes between justice and law, and expresses pride that the Israeli Supreme Court ruled as it did.
The frequent criticism of the Israeli primary system by politicians, the media, and academics often creates the impression that the system should be retired and replaced by a new one. In the article below, which was written prior to the Kadima primaries in March 2012, IDI Researcher Dr. Ofer Kenig surveys the arguments against primaries, analyzes the validity of the criticisms, and explores ways of addressing the weak points of the system.
As the world considers the threat of a nuclear Iran, Israeli public discourse has focused primarily on whether or not Israel should launch a preemptive strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. But who has the authority to decide whether a military operation should be conducted? In this article, IDI Vice President Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer and researcher Eyal Tsur explore the strengths and weaknesses of the current division of responsibility regarding this matter, and recommend ways of improving the system.
Although some in Israel hold nationalism and liberalism to be mutually exclusive, former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin was both a proud nationalist and an unwavering guardian of liberal principles. As the Jewish world commemorates the 20th anniversary of Begin's death, IDI is pleased to present "Menachem Begin on Democracy and Constitutional Values," a booklet by IDI Vice President Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer and Attorney Amir Fuchs, which was originally published in Hebrew on the eve of Yom Kippur, 2011.
The Supreme Court's decision to strike down the Tal Law, after 30 years of avoiding the issue of the exemption of ultra-Orthodox Jews from military service, is an expression of judicial activism that illustrates the transformation that the Israeli Supreme Court has undergone in the last generation. In this op-ed, originally published in Hebrew in <em>Makor Rishon</em>, IDI Vice President Prof. Yedidia Stern asserts that the Court went too far in this ruling and that its activism is hard to justify.
This paper, which was prepared for presentation at a conference of the WZB Social Science Research Center in Berlin by IDI Senior Fellow Prof. Tamar Hermann, shares the dilemmas faced by the Guttman Center research team in preparing the annual Israeli Democracy Index in general and in preparing 2011 Israeli Democracy Index in particular.
On February 21, 2012, just before the High Court of Justice was to hear his petition, Palestinian detainee Khader Adnan agreed to end his life threatening hunger strike after Israeli authorities agreed to release him in April, at the end of four months of administrative detention. Attorney Elad Gil explores basic questions about the use of administrative detention in Israel and highlights lessons learned from the Adnan affair.
Will the Israeli Supreme Court's ruling that the Tal Law is unconstitutional really guarantee that the burden of Israel's defense will be shared equally by the country's citizens? IDI's Prof. Yedidia Stern warns that this ruling may actually hinder the integration of the Haredi community into Israeli society rather than promoting it.
Israeli journalist Yair Lapid's announced intention to enter politics sparked both excitement and speculation as to whether he planned to start his own party or to join one of the existing parties. While IDI Former President and Founder Dr. Arye Carmon applauds the entrance of talented, committed people into politics, he stresses the need for them to join one of the large, existing parties in order to stabilize the political system.
On Friday, January 27, 2012, IDI Former President and Founder Dr. Arye Carmon delivered the keynote address at a ceremony convened by the Massuah Institute in commemoration of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Addressing the entire diplomatic corps assigned to Israel, Dr. Carmon shared memories of an encounter with a Holocaust survivor that had a profound impact on his life, and contributed to his development of a curriculum entitled “Teaching the Holocaust – An Education towards Values."
Recently, the findings of the third Guttman-AVI CHAI report—A Portrait of Israeli Jews: Beliefs, Observance, and Values of Israeli Jews—were presented to the public. The findings have drawn much media coverage because they revealed that an overwhelming majority of Israeli Jews believe in God. In an op-ed from <em>Haaretz</em>, IDI Senior researcher Yair Sheleg responds to columnists who were alarmed by the findings regarding belief in God, and argues that what is really of concern is the inverse relationship between this belief and belief in democratic values.
As State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss approaches the end of his term, IDI Former President and Founder Dr. Arye Carmon takes issue with him for overstepping the bounds of his authority and for his excessive media presence, in an op-ed originally published in Hebrew in Yedioth Ahronoth on January 31, 2012. In particular, Dr. Carmon singles out Lindenstrauss's statements that the Comptroller's office is the "fourth branch of government" and that "everything is auditable."
The Israeli public is increasingly demanding a more effective system of government. In this op-ed from Israel Hayom (February 2, 2012), IDI Former President and Founder Dr. Arye Carmon asserts that reforming the system of government is the only answer to stabilizing the executive so that a party that has been voted into power can actually govern, and points to two types of necessary change: structural and perceptual.
In an op-ed from Haaretz, IDI research fellow Yair Sheleg responds to settler leader Benny Katzover’s positions on the Jewish and democratic nature of the State of Israel, and argues that Israel should not prefer either of these two identities and should view its Jewish and democratic nature as two manifestations of human dignity.
In an op-ed originally published in The Jerusalem Post on January 11, 2012, IDI Vice President Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer and Attorney Lina Saba discuss the administrative restraining orders recently issued against 12 Jewish activists involved in "price tag" activity in Judea and Samaria. What is the legal basis for using these measures and what are the implications of their use?
On January 10, 2012 an amendment to the Prevention of Infiltration Act passed its second and third reading in the Knesset. In passing this act, the government—and the Knesset—chose to walk down a path that is incompatible with the protection of human freedom that is embedded in Israeli constitutional law and that is incompatible with Israel’s obligations under international refugee conventions. Below is a condensed version of an article on this matter that was written by Adv. Reuven (Ruvi) Ziegler for the IDI Hebrew website.
The issue of the exclusion of women and their marginalization in Israeli society has dominated the media in Israel during the past few weeks. In this article, which was originally published in The Seventh Eye on December 25, 2011, Dr. Debora Lederman-Danieli argues that the media's struggle against the phenomenon of the degradation of women requires much more than disingenuous, populist outcries.
Why is the marginalization of women in Israeli society and their exclusion from the public sphere on the rise in Israeli society? In this op-ed, IDI Vice President of Research Prof. Yedidia Stern focuses on the religious Zionist community and the power struggle to determine who will control the public sphere and the space of the religious community.
ד"ר תהילה שוורץ-אלטשולר, ראש פרויקט רפורמות במדיה, וצוות הפרויקט משיקים בלוג חדש! הבלוג יעסוק הן בנושאים של מדיניות תקשורת, רגולציה ומדיה חדשה והן בתחומים משיקים. הפוסט הראשון בוחן כיצד ישפיעו ריבוי ערוצים ומגוון גדל והולך של ממשקי צפייה על ההעדפות, על הרגלי הצפייה בטלוויזיה ועל עיצוב פניה הדמוקרטיים של החברה הישראלית.
Does Israel have an obligation to defend the rights of human rights NGOs under international law? IDI Senior Fellow Prof. Yuval Shany discusses the international legal framework relevant to this issue, the duties to respect and ensure human rights, the obligation to offer effective remedies to victims, and the specific obligation to defend human rights defenders.
On November 13, 2011 the Knesset Ministerial Committee on Legislation voted in favor of two private bills designed to impose restrictions on foreign funding of NGOs in Israel. In the following op-ed, published prior to the Committee's meeting, Attorney Shiri Krebs warns of the dangers of these bills.
The proposed "Basic Law: Israel – The Nation State of the Jewish People" has the support of one third of the members of Knesset. In this op-ed, which was originally published in Hebrew in Yedioth Ahronoth, IDI Vice President of Research Prof. Yedidia Z. Stern, who is deeply committed to the Jewish nature of the State of Israel, warns that the shift from defining Israel as a "Jewish and democratic state" to a "Jewish state with a democratic regime" is not a semantic shift, but a seismic change.
The percentage of Arabs in the labor market is lower than that of other groups in Israeli society and is among the lowest in the world. Because this discrepancy is based on national-religious schisms, raising the Arab employment rate has important economic, social, and political-national implications. Find out more about this issue in this report, which was submitted by IDI's Arab-Jewish Forum to the Committee for Socio-Economic Change headed by Professor Manuel Trajtenberg.
The terms of the Gilad Shalit swap presented Israel with a conflict between the interests of an individual and the interests of the collective. Prof. Yedidia Z. Stern discusses the factors that contribute to Israel's extreme sensitivity to captives, warns of the dangers of choosing the individual over the collective, and calls for steps to be taken to ensure that Israel will have firm guidelines for such situations in the future.
The period of the Jewish High Holidays is a time of reflection and introspection. In this op-ed, originally published in Yedioth Ahronoth on September 26, 2011, IDI Vice President of Research Prof. Yedidia Z. Stern reflects on the gap that emerged between the agenda of the Knesset and the agenda of the Israeli public during 2010-2011 and expresses hope that the message of the social-economic protest of the summer of 2011 will point the Knesset in the right direction in the year to come.
The Palestinian Authority has announced its intention to declare the establishment of an independent Palestinian State in September 2011, and to ask the U.N. to recognize that state. What is the significance of U.N. recognition? Can the U.N. establish a state? Find out in this legal analysis by IDI Research Fellow Dr. Amichai Cohen.
The wave of protest that swept over Israel in the summer of 2011 is an excellent springboard for discussion in civics classes in the Israeli school system. As a result, IDI was involved in the development of a curriculum on the housing protest with units for elementary school, junior high school, and high school.
History teaches that adopting a constitution is usually possible only at the point at which a state is first established; if that opportunity is missed, it is only at a time of real crisis that it is politically feasible to set new rules of the game. In an op-ed in <em>Haaretz</em>, IDI Vice President of Research Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer and Attorney Amir Fuchs assert that such a moment has come.
In this interview, originally published in the Globes financial daily, IDI Senior Fellow Avi Ben-Bassat, former director general of the Ministry of Finance, reflects on the Netanyahu government's tax and expenditure policies, which he views as the cause of the economic protests of the summer of 2011.
In an op-ed in <em>Haaretz</em>, IDI Vice President of Research Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer and Attorney Shiri Krebs respond to a proposed amendment to the Associations Law that would prevent non-profit organizations from receiving contributions from "governments and international bodies like the United Nations and European Union."
Should Sunday be a day of rest in Israel? This debate was reawakened In July 2011, when Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom proposed that Israel should have a long weekend that would be in sync with the rest of the world. IDI Senior Fellow Prof. Avi Ben-Bassat believes that this is populist legislation and that the public is not being fully informed of its ramifications.
Should Sunday be a day of rest in Israel? This debate was reawakened In July 2011, when Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom proposed that Israel should have a long weekend that would be in sync with the rest of the world. IDI Former President and Founder Dr. Arye Carmon believes that this change is necessary, but must be implemented as part of a comprehensive social change aimed at bridging the gap between religious and secular Jews.
In an op-ed originally published in Haaretz on June 18, 2010, IDI Vice President Prof. Yedidia Z. Stern responds to the dramatic events in the city of Immanuel, warns secular society about the growing demonization of the Haredi community, and urges the Haredi community to have greater faith in the courts—the ultimate protectors of the rights of minorities.
An interview with Dr. Aviad Hacohen, Dean of the Sha'arei Mishpat Academic College, that was conducted prior to IDI's 19th Caesarea Economic Policy Planning Forum, at which Dr. Hacohen and fellow researcher Dr. Lee Cahaner presented their findings on “The Forgotten Age in the Ultra-Orthodox Sector” during a session on Young Adults Aged 18–22.
The violent incidents that took place on the Israeli-Syrian border in June 2011 raise the question of how the Israel Defense Forces should deal with violent events that resemble disturbances while at the same time affecting important Israeli security interests. IDI Senior Fellow Prof. Yuval Shany offers his analysis of the Israeli response to these events.
In this op-ed from the bitterlemons-api.org website (June 1, 2011), IDI Senior Fellow Prof. Tamar Hermann contends that Israelis have been turning a blind eye to the Arab Peace Initiative (API) due to a cognitive "iron wall" that stands between them and the rest of the Middle East. She supports her argument with data from the Peace Index polls.
In an op-ed from Yedioth Ahronoth written in honor of Israel's 63rd Independence Day, IDI Vice President of Research Yedidia Z. Stern reflects on the quality of Israeli independence, and asserts that a connection with the wellsprings of Jewish culture is necessary for maintaining the quality of the independence that Israel holds so dear.
IDI's international conference "What Do Think Tanks Do?," conducted in May 2011, focused on the role and nature of think tanks in the democratic context. In this article, Dr. Karmit Haber explains the rationale behind the conference and examines the primary roles of think tanks and how they approach a variety of issues.
In an op-ed from the Wall Street Journal, Former American Secretary of State George P. Shultz, Chairman of IDI's International Advisory Council, contemplates Washington's mounting practice of appointing White House "czars"—staff members who have de facto decision-making power over all major areas of government—and discusses what must be done to reverse this trend.
Judge Richard Goldstone’s retraction of his commission's finding that Israeli actions in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead deliberately targeted civilians righted a historical injustice. But did the actions of the State of Israel contribute to the false impression received by the Goldstone Commission? In this op-ed, IDI Senior Fellow Prof. Yuval Shany explores the question of whether the Israeli government should also search its soul and consider participation in future international commissions of inquiry.
In 2009, IDI Former President and Founder Dr. Arye Carmon established The Forum for Political Reform in Israel in response to "the urgent need to generate significant improvement in the capabilities and functioning of the Knesset." On March 28, 2011, Forum Chairman Meir Shamgar, Former President of the Israeli Supreme Court, submitted the Forum's recommendations to the Knesset. In this video interview, Dr. Carmon speaks about the Forum, its key recommendations, and obstacles to political reform in Israel.
The “Nakba Bill” would impose financial sanctions on institutions that commemorate Israel’s Independence Day as a day of mourning. In this op-ed from the Ynet website, IDI’s Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer and Adv. Amir Fuchs warned that while observing Israel’s Independence Day as a day of mourning by citizens of the State of Israel is “a galling, unpleasant, and defiant act,” the test of a true democracy is whether it is able to allow such expressions of freedom of speech.
In this op-ed from Haaretz, IDI Research Fellow Yair Sheleg decries the ultra-Orthodox refusal to alter standards for conversion to Judaism in recognition of the fact that for many Israelis, Jewish identity is not only an expression of religious observance but also of identification with Zionism and Jewish culture. He warns that the ultra-Orthodox approach is causing serious injustice to thousands of people who wish to live as Jews and raise Jewish children in Israel.
In an op-ed in Yedioth Ahronoth, IDI Vice President Yedidia Z. Stern responds to the proposed "Dov Lior Bill" and decries the possibility that members of the clergy—of any religion—be above the law and immune from prosecution for incitement to violence when their religious teachings may encourage criminal behavior.
On January 5-6, 2011, IDI convened a Conference on People with Disabilities in the Jewish and Democratic State, as part of the activities of IDI's Judaism and Human Rights project. IDI Senior Fellow Prof. Shahar Lifshitz, the project's co-director, shares his thoughts on social justice and the just distribution of resources.
A number of controversial bills recently tabled in the Knesset undermine basic constitutional values, add fuel to the international assault on Israel's legitimacy, and may end up damaging Israel's democratic character. In an article in The Jerusalem Post, IDI Former President and Founder Dr. Arye Carmon and Vice Presidents Professors Mordechai Kremnitzer and Yedidia Z. Stern respond to these initiatives.
Are the ostensibly anti-Arab bills under consideration by the Knesset, the “Rabbis’ Letter” that forbids the sale of real estate to non-Jews, and the findings of the 2010 Israeli Democracy Index clear-cut indicators that racism is on the rise in Israel today? Or are more complex factors at play? IDI Research Fellow Yair Sheleg shares his views on this matter.
The "Rabbis' Letter" signed by dozens of community rabbis in Israel in December 2010 asserts that Jewish law forbids the rental and sale of homes in Israel to non-Jews. Is renting property to non-Jews indeed forbidden by Jewish law? IDI Researcher Dr. Eliezer Hadad surveys opinions by contemporary rabbis who adopted a universalistic approach and found a halakhic basis for the equal rights mandated by both international norms and the Israeli Declaration of Independence.
Is Israel in a similar situation as the Weimar Republic after World War I—on the road to a fascist, racist regime? In this article, IDI Research Fellow Yair Sheleg asserts that alongside the dangerous statements of the Israeli right, the extreme left's attempts to delegitimize Israel and its army, as well as its sweeping characterization of any initiative that seeks to strengthen Israel's security or Jewish identity as racist, are dangerous as well. He concludes that it's not enough to combat anti-democratic terrorism; the exploitation of democracy that feeds it must be combated as well.
In this op-ed article, IDI Vice President of Research Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer and IDI researcher Adv. Shiri Krebs question the wisdom of forming a parliamentary commission of inquiry into the funding of Israeli human rights organizations. They warn against a slippery slope to McCarthyism and point out that the establishment of the commission, far from strengthening Israel’s legitimacy, will accelerate efforts to delegitimize Israel and prosecute Israeli officials overseas.
How should Israelis feel about the Katzav verdict? In this article from <em>The Jewish Chronicle</em>, Prof. Vernon Bogdanor of King's College in London, a member of IDI's International Advisory Council, asserts that the outcome of the trial can be a source of pride, since the mark of a constitutional democracy is that no one is above the law. At the same time, however, he warns that Israel needs to develop a culture of self-criticism in light of recent trends in attitudes towards the Arab minority.
How much parliamentary independence should Knesset members have? To what extent must they toe their party's line? At a time when party discipline and coalitional discipline play a decisive role in determining the fate of Israeli policy and proposed legislation, MK Reuven (Ruby) Rivlin, Speaker of the Knesset, calls on parties to allow Knesset members to remain true to their conscience and to their role as representatives of the people.
The question of who is a citizen of Israel is tied to many issues in the forefront of debate in Israel: questions regarding the Jewish and democratic nature of the state, questions regarding conversion, and questions regarding the absorption of refugees and foreign workers into Israeli society. In this article, guest columnist MK Aryeh Eldad shares his views on who is entitled to be and who should be a citizen of the State of Israel.
The question of who is a citizen of Israel is tied to many issues in the forefront of debate in Israel. In this article, guest columnist Former MK Shulamit Aloni focuses on the democratic nature of the State of Israel, and particularly the concept of equality, as the foundation on which citizenship rests, and decries recent racist undercurrents observed in Israeli society, which she sees as contrary to the founding vision of the State.
In an op-ed from <em>Haaretz</em>, IDI Vice President of Research Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer and Researcher Adv. Amir Fuchs assert that Prime Minister Netanyahu was right to condemn a letter by rabbis forbidding the rental of property in Israel to Arabs, and call on him to prevent the passage of a bill that would allow small Jewish communities to exclude Arabs from living in their midst.