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Time to Step Up for Democracy

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.

A Matter of Definition: On ‘Infiltrators’ and ‘Asylum Seekers’ in Israel
Op-ed

A Matter of Definition: On ‘Infiltrators’ and ‘Asylum Seekers’ in Israel

In this article, IDI Researcher Adv. Reuven (Ruvi) Ziegler surveys Israel's regulations regarding refugees and asylum seekers and points to three areas—eligibility for asylum, the rights of asylum seekers, and detention—in which they are incompatible with the UN refugee convention.

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Op-ed

Clear-Cut Racism or Complicated Relationship?

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.

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Op-ed

The "Rabbis' Letter" and Halakhah

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.

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Op-ed

The Road to Fascist Hell

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.

The Syrian Temptation
Op-ed

The Syrian Temptation

Should Israel be actively pursuing peace with Syria? Dr. Jesse Ferris critiques the Israeli establishment’s fixation on the possibility of peace with the current regime in Syria. 

Israeli McCarthyism?
Op-ed

Israeli McCarthyism?

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.

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Op-ed

Israel, A Unique Nation in the MidEast

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.

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Op-ed

The Limits of Party and Coalition Discipline

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.

Who is Entitled?
Op-ed

Who is Entitled?

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 Founding Vision: Israel as a Democratic State. Period.
Op-ed

The Founding Vision: Israel as a Democratic State. Period.

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.

Mr. Prime Minister, Douse the Flames of Racism
Op-ed

Mr. Prime Minister, Douse the Flames of Racism

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.

An analysis of the proposed comprehensive counter-terrorism bill that was prepared by IDI's Terrorism and Democracy research team and submitted to the Ministry of Justice.
Op-ed

An analysis of the proposed comprehensive counter-terrorism bill that was prepared by IDI's Terrorism and Democracy research team and submitted to the Ministry of Justice.

In an op-ed in Yedioth Ahronoth, IDI Vice President of Research Prof. Yedidia Z. Stern urges the Israeli government to fend off political pressure, act morally, and assert that anyone who has converted to Judaism in the Israel Defense Forces is a Jew.

IDI Denounces Rabbis' Petition against Rental to Arabs
Article

IDI Denounces Rabbis' Petition against Rental to Arabs

On December 7, 2010, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, Chief Rabbi of Tzfat, and 49 other municipal rabbis in Israel issued a letter ruling that Jewish law forbids the sale or rental of property in Israel to gentiles. IDI joined the voices that condemned this letter.

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Op-ed

MK Amsellem's Daring

In an op-ed for <em>Haaretz</em>, IDI Research Fellow Yair Sheleg analyzes the behavior of renegade MK Rabbi Chaim Amsellem of Shas in its broader socio-religious context. Could Amsellem be a harbinger of a new renaissance in Jewish law, or is he an exception that does not point to a trend?

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Op-ed

Video Interview: Prof. Mordechai Kremnizter on the Acceptance Committee Bill

Recently, the Knesset has considered a bill that would allow small Israeli communities the right to reject candidates according to “suitability to the community’s fundamental outlook.”  In effect, the bill would enable communities to reject individuals based on ethnicity, gender, religion, and socioeconomic status.  In the following interview, IDI Vice President of Research Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer speaks out about the bill. Prof. Kremnitzer discusses the legislation’s intent, along with its inherent dangers.  He also explains the Supreme Court’s possible role in rejecting such a bill, and whether judicial intervention is a reasonable solution to legislation that infringes upon basic rights.  Watch the interview below or on the IDI Youtube channel.

Netanyahu has No Right to Succumb to the Ultra-Orthodox
Op-ed

Netanyahu has No Right to Succumb to the Ultra-Orthodox

In an op-ed for <em>Haaretz</em>, IDI Research Fellow Yair Sheleg laments the dependence of ultra-Orthodox Yeshiva students on public funds and calls on the Netanyahu administration to reduce the stipends.

Israel's Legislation Could Eventually Serve its Enemies
Op-ed

Israel's Legislation Could Eventually Serve its Enemies

IDI Vice President of Research Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer was one of the most vocal opponents of a Knesset bill that would enable neighborhood committees to disqualify prospective residents on the basis of “lack of suitability for the community’s social-cultural fabric.” Find out more about his position in this op-ed and video interview.

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Op-ed

Haim Hecht is Fixing Israel

This analysis of Haim Hecht's television series called "Fixing Israel", an investigative show about what's "gone wrong" in Israel, by Tal Arbel, an MA student in the History and Philosophy of the Sciences and Ideas at Tel Aviv University, was originally published in The Seventh Eye on February 28, 2007. In a detailed critique of the show, Arbel understands Hecht's pretentious demand for a blanket organizational reform of the Zionist enterprise as blurring the boundary between a television show and a realistic, productive public campaign.

Time for Resolution?
Op-ed

Time for Resolution?

The Chief Rabbinate of the State of Israel recently called into question the validity of conversions performed under the auspices of the Israel Defense Forces. In this article, which is an abridged version of an article that was originally published in Hebrew in the Makor Rishon weekly newspaper, IDI researcher Netanel Fisher analyzes developments in this debate and calls for the formation of a coalition of the moderate Jewish majority.

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Op-ed

Loyalty is Not a Value

What does loyalty mean? Loyalty to whom? In this op-ed from <em>Haaretz </em>(October 15, 2010), which was written in response to the passage of the "loyalty oath" legislation, IDI Vice President Prof. Z. Yedidia Stern and Prof. Avi Sagi explore the concept of "loyalty" and focus on whether Israel should require prospective citizens to take an oath affirming their loyalty to the Jewish and democratic state.

The Loyalty Oath: Where Is Our Common Sense?
Op-ed

The Loyalty Oath: Where Is Our Common Sense?

In the following op-ed from Haaretz, IDI Vice President Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer questions the wisdom of the amendment to the Israeli Citizenship Act that requires naturalized Israeli citizens to take an oath of loyalty to the State of Israel "as a Jewish and democratic state," arguing that this requirement is discriminatory and ultimately undermines the Jewish character of the State.

Coercive Imposition of Western Culture
Op-ed

Coercive Imposition of Western Culture

In this article from Haaretz published on October 3, 2010, Former Education Minister Rabbi Itshak Levi, head of Policy Implementation at IDI, objects to the cultural coercion involved in a mandatory core curriculum, and advocates requiring only the study of Hebrew and Civics of all students in Israel.

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Op-ed

The Counter-Terrorism Memorandum Bill

An analysis of the proposed comprehensive counter-terrorism bill that was prepared by IDI's Terrorism and Democracy research team and submitted to the Ministry of Justice.

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Op-ed

Protest and Punishment

If Israeli performing artists consider the establishment of settlements in Judea and Samaria to be immoral, is it wrong for them to refuse to perform there? In an op-ed in Haaretz, IDI Vice President of research Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer defends such boycotts as an exercise of the right to free speech and protest.

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Op-ed

A Boycott on Both Your Houses

Is the boycott of the town of Ariel, which is located over the Green Line, by Israeli performing artists legitimate? In this op-ed from Yedioth Ahronoth, IDI Vice President Yedidia Z. Stern warns that this type of organized opposition to democratic decisions endangers the delicate fabric of Israeli life.

Judaism's Gatekeepers
Op-ed

Judaism's Gatekeepers

During the summer of 2010, Jews in both Israel and the Diaspora voiced their concern regarding the Rotem bill, the controversial conversion legislation approved by the Knesset’s Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee. In this op-ed, originally published in The Jerusalem Post, IDI Vice President Prof. Yedidia Z. Stern issues an urgent plea to resolve Israel's conversion crisis in order to avoid the "social time bomb on our doorstep."

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Op-ed

Who Really Cares about Converts?

On July 12, 2010, the Knesset’s Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee approved a controversial draft bill on conversion reform. Presented as an effort to make conversion more accessible to hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens who are not Jewish according to state and religious law, the proposed legislation sparked an outcry both in Israel and the Diaspora. In this article, IDI Researcher Netanel Fisher exposes the dangerous linkage between conversion and the status of Judaism's non-Orthodox movements and assesses the likelihood of the bill achieving its goals.

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Op-ed

We Need a Constitution

In an op-ed published in Haaretz on June 23, 2010, IDI Vice President Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer reaffirms the need for a constitution for Israel, responds to criticism of IDI's draft constitution, and challenges others to come up with their own constitution proposals.