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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.