Defense of Democratic Values

The program for Defense of Democratic Values is designed to strengthen the state's commitment to the core democratic values enshrined in Israel's Declaration of Independence. The program works to thwart populist legislative initiatives, defend democratic institutions from attempts to undermine them, combat racism and hate speech and promote the values of freedom, equality, separation of powers and the rule of law.

Among other initiatives, the program has developed a manual for good legislation for the Knesset, launched media campaigns to block particularly harmful initiatives, and worked with elected and appointed officials across the political spectrum to explain the consequences of bad legislation and convince them to adopt more favorable alternatives.

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    Dr. Amir Fuchs

    Director

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    Dr. Amir Fuchs holds a doctorate from the Faculty of Law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and is a lecturer in the Politics and Communication Department at the School of Government and Social Sciences at Hadassah Academic College.

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    Dr. Guy Lurie

    Researcher

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    Dr. Guy Lurie is a lawyer and received his PhD in History from Georgetown University (2013). Dr. Lurie is a former coordinator of the Shamgar Commission for the Formulation of Rules of Ethics for Members of the Government, and served as a post-doctoral fellow on the Faculty of Law at the University of Haifa.

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    Eran Mizrahi

    Research Assistant

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    Prof. Reuven (Ruvi) Ziegler

    Researcher

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    IDI Researcher Prof. Reuven (Ruvi) Ziegler explores questions of immigration, asylum, and citizenship as part of IDI's Democratic Principles project. He is a Lecturer in Law at the University of Reading.

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    Nadiv Mordechay

 

Now is the time to rise above petty politics and pass a draft law that will uphold the principle of civic equality in Israel.

 

In the bill’s final wording, the state only commits itself to act within the Diaspora to strengthen the ties of Jewish peoplehood – as if actions taken inside the Jewish state, like the reneged-upon Western Wall compromise, have no bearing on the rest of the Jewish world.

The Israel Democracy Institute applauds Prime Minister Netanyahu’s decision to reevaluate the Facebook Law which was initially formulated to help fight terrorism, but evolved into a draconian law that could set back the Start-Up Nation decades in terms of freedom of speech.

A Basic Law that seeks to define the character of the state but does not anchor the principle of civic equality has no place in the law book of any democracy.

What message of Tisha B’Av is relevant for life in a sovereign state like Israel? Does the American recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel make the day of mourning for “the city that is in mourning, laid waste, despised and desolate” an anachronism?

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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

The Lod district court decision illustrates the possible dangers to criminal defendant’s human rights though the expanding defense of necessity and the lack of separation between the preventive and criminal phases of the investigation.

Yohanan Plesner discusses with Tipping Point the "People's Army". Can a compromise be reached and is "sharing the burden" of military service a realistic goal? 

Government-sponsored legislation proposing to change how ministry legal advisors are appointed has stirred up quite a storm. The idea should worry all of us, not only jurists.

The Israel Democracy Institute ahead of the Knesset Constitution Committee debate on political appointments of legal advisers in government ministries: "A blow to the civil service ethos; an opening for potential corruption, forsakes public interest".

The good news is that despite the unprecedented offensive which aims at dealing a significant blow to the Supreme Court, the majority of the Israelis still have trust in this institution. In fact, the levels of trust in the court are much greater than those of the Knesset and the Government

Judiciary activism is neither easily defined nor easily measured. That said, it is important to clarify: Israel’s Supreme Court strikes down relatively few laws as compared with courts in other countries

 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. 

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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.

Beyond the important political, humanitarian and moral issues raised by the “Great Return March” and the IDF’s response, complicated legal issues also present themselves. 

“The campaign to remake the Supreme Court has been completed” said Justice Minister Shaked - so now with its new and more conservative profile, there is no longer any justification for the delegitimization of the Supreme Court.

 

In a letter to the Members of Knesset, IDI's management clarifies that the ultra-Orthodox proposed legislation will influence budgetary matters such as allocations to Yeshiva students and housing grants, and will  place Israel’s national security in jeopardy

 

 

Letter to Members of the Knesset on the proposed Basic Law: Torah Study - "This is an extremist proposal to enshrine the principle of inequality in our law books.Its adoption could undermine the IDF’s model of service and place Israel’s national security in jeopardy"

"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.”

Deporting people against their will to the countries they escaped from evokes strong and disturbing recollections of dark episodes in Jewish history.

Citizens must lead the way in the battle against political corruption.

Experience and history repeatedly teach us that what was once widely accepted as an irrefutable truth can be revealed to be a total falsehood.

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.

Research Reel with Amir Fuchs: Defending Democratic Values

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 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.

Dr. Mordechai Kremnitzer argues that it is time for Israel to examine the Shin Bet security service's regulations, based on the assumption that they apply to all residents of Israel. One law must apply to all suspected perpetrators of terrorist acts — Jews and Arabs alike.

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.

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.)

Dr. Shuki Friedman reminds us that the values that are so deeply rooted in our Jewish worldview, are part and parcel with the democratic values of our state and its outlook on the obligation to preserve life and human dignity using the rule of law.

Eli Bahar says we must not accept this state of affairs as a fait accompli. He reminds that we can change the situation even if it seems that it has almost reached the point of no return.

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.

Is administrative detention an appropriate response to Jewish terror such as the events in Duma? Dr. Amir Fuchs argues that there is no justification for administrative violations of a person’s freedom except for in concrete emergencies in which criminal law would be impossible to apply.

As World Refugee Day approaches, Dr. Ruvi Ziegler argues that it is high time for Israel to adopt a fair asylum policy that would mitigate the predicament of Eritrean and Sudanese nationals.

On December 8, 2014, just before the Knesset dissolved itself to prepare for early elections, it enacted the Law for Prevention of Infiltration and Ensuring the Departure of Infiltrators from Israel. IDI's Dr. Reuven (Ruvi) Ziegler reviews this development.

In an op-ed in Maariv, IDI Vice President Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer calls for an election campaign that focuses not only on foreign policy and Israel's social gap, but on the nature of Israeli identity and the value of Israeli democracy itself.

The mayor of Ashkelon's announcement following the massacre in a Har Nof synagogue that Arab workers would not be employed in his city was roundly condemned by members of the Knesset. Dr. Amir Fuchs points to the hypocrisy of these condemnations.

IDI researcher Dr. Amir Fuchs criticizes the proposed Basic Law that would establish Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people and recommends accepting Israel's Declaration of Independence as the preamble to Israel's future Constitution instead.

A summary of a legal opinion on a proposed amendment to Basic Law: The Knesset that was submitted by Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer and Dr. Amir Fuchs to the Ministerial Committee on Legislative Affairs.

Dr. Amir Fuchs discusses the proposal to add an override clause to Israel's Basic Law: Human Dignity and Freedom that would enable the Knesset to bypass the High Court and deal a a severe blow to the main safeguard of human rights and minorities in Israel.

IDI Researcher Dr. Reuven (Ruvi) Ziegler presents a brief overview of the Israeli High Court of Justice's decision to strike down Amendment No. 4 of the Prevention of Infiltration Law, and explores several themes that may be of comparative constitutional interest. 

Dr. Amir Fuchs discusses the Israeli High Court of Justice's decision to uphold the "Admissions Committees Law," which allows small communities to reject applicants due to a lack of social suitability. 

IDI Vice President Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer addresses the question of the appropriateness of the letter that Givati Brigade commander Col.Ofer Winter sent to his subordinate officers as Israel prepared for the ground incursion in Gaza in the summer of 2014.

IDI Vice President Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer discusses the High Court of Justice's decision to uphold the Israel Broadcasting Authority's rejection of an infomercial in which the names of Gazan children who were killed in Operation Protective Edge would have been read aloud. 

IDI researcher Assaf Shapira provides background information on the decision of the Knesset Ethics Committee to suspend MK Hanin Zoabi for statements she made about the kidnapping and murder of three Jewish teenagers and about Operation Protective Edge.

Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer and Admiral Ami Ayalon argue that while the heart has difficulty defending MK Hanin Zoabi's freedom of expression, the head demands that we object to the decision to remove her from parliamentary activity for six months.

Attorney Amir Fuchs asserts that educating Israeli students regarding democracy and civics from a young age and throughout their education is the best way to prevent hatred, violence, and racism.

Attorney Amir Fuchs argues that the proposed legislation that would exempt first-time home-buyers from value added tax (VAT) violates the principle of equality for people who do not serve the State of Israel. 

In an article in <em>The Times of Israel</em>, Attorney Amir Fuchs argues that legislation that would give judges the authority to sentence murderers to life in prison with no possibility of pardon is misguided and will not prevent terrorists from being released in future prisoner exchanges.

Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer and Attorney Amir Fuchs assert that the only way to guarantee Israel's existence as a Jewish and democratic state is not through a Basic Law that defining Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people but through a Constitution. 

A legal opinion opposing the proposed Basic Law: Israel as the Nation State of the Jewish People, which was submitted by IDI Vice President Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer and Attorney Amir Fuchs to the Ministerial Committee on Legislation on June 4, 2014.

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.

In an op-ed in <em>Haaretz</em> published after Ehud Olmert was sentenced to six years in prison, Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer explores the implications of the Holyland case for the battle against corruption in Israel.

IDI researcher Dr. Reuven (Ruvi) Ziegler explains why he believes the Supreme Court should overturn Amendment No. 4 of the Prevention of Infiltration Act just as it invalidated its predecessor.

Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer explains the importance of the fifth meeting of IDI's Police and Society Forum, which was dedicated to the question of partnership and transparency in the relationship between the Israel Police and Arab society.

In an op-ed in The Jerusalem Post, IDI Vice President Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer analyzes Jonathan Pollard's life sentence and calls on President Obama to put an end to Pollard's incarceration In the name of the shared commitment to justice.

In an article in <em>Haaretz</em>, attorney Amir Fuchs explains why he believes the release of convicted terrorists as part of prisoner release deals or  as part of diplomatic negotiations degrades Israel's criminal justice system.

IDI Researcher Attorney Amir Fuchs discusses two indirect threats to human rights in Israel: attacks on the Israeli Supreme Court and attacks against Israeli human rights organizations.

IDI Vice President of Research Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer responds to the possibility that the police will use administrative detention to combat organized crime, much in the manner as it is used to combat terrorism. 

Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer and Att. Talya Steiner warn that the veteran's benefit bill, which is intended to extend benefits to those who have contributed to the State, discriminates against Israel's Arab citizens, who are exempt from military service in Israel.

In an op-ed in Haaretz, Attorney Amir Fuchs asserts that Israel is both the nation-state of the Jewish people and a democratic state, despite the confused Zionism of Mayor Shimon Gapso of Upper Nazareth.

In an op-ed in <em>Haaretz</em>, IDI researcher Attorney Amir Fuchs asserts that Israel is both the nation-state of the Jewish people and a democratic state, despite the confused Zionism of Mayor Shimon Gapso of Upper Nazareth.

Should the State always present its position in a unified voice or should state institutions with specific expertise sometimes be allowed to present their views separately? Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer and Attorney Talya Steiner address this question In an op-ed in Haaretz.

In an op-ed in Haaretz, IDI researcher Attorney Amir Fuchs shares his thoughts on the proposed "NGO bill," which would limit donations to human rights organizations in Israel.

In an op-ed in Haaretz, IDI Researcher Attorney Amir Fuchs warns that the proposed Basic Law: Israel as the Nation State of the Jewish People is not only anti-democratic but also undermines the foundations of Zionism.

Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer and Attorney Talya Steiner warn that the proposed veterans benefits bill, which would give preferential treatment in employment, higher education, and housing to those who have served in the Israeli army, gives license to discriminate against Israel's Arab minority.

In an op-ed in Maariv, IDI Vice President Mordechai Kremnitzer and Attorney Amir Fuchs warn that the proposed amendment to Israel's Anti-Defamation Law known as the  'Jenin-Jenin Law' will have the opposite of its intended effect.

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.

IDI researcher Attorney Amir Fuchs welcomes the "Blue and White Human Rights" initiative of the Institute for Jewish Strategies, stressing that the fight for human rights in Israel should not be seen as limited to the political Left.

In an op-ed originally published in Maariv, Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer and Attorney Amir Fuchs warn that the Basic Law: Israel as the Nation State of the Jewish People would undercut the balance between the "Jewish" and "democratic" nature of the State of Israel.

In honor of Israel's 65th birthday, Attorney Amir Fuchs reflects on whether the reality of today's Israel adheres to the values and vision of early Zionist leader Ze'ev Jabotinsky.

IDI's Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer critiques various aspects of the proposals for integrating the ultra-Orthodox into the army and calls on the Israeli public to stand firm on its demand for an arrangement that is fair and equitable.

In an op-ed in Haaretz, IDI Researcher Attorney Amir Fuchs asserts that as Justice Minister, Tzipi Livni will have to restore confidence between the judicial system and political system and will have to serve as the representative of the judicial system to politicians.

On the occasion of International Migrants Day and an IDI roundtable on Israeli immigration policy, IDI researcher Adv. Reuven (Ruvi) Ziegler provides an overview of the treatment of African asylum seekers who have crossed into Israel via its southern border.

On December 4, 2012, the Israeli Supreme Court heard a petition arguing that the “Admissions Committee Law” is discriminatory and unconstitutional. Attorney Amir Fuchs explains why he sees this law as an insult to Israel's democracy.

IDI Vice President Mordechai Kremnitzer and Doron Navot, author of Political Corruption in Israel, discuss whether politicians convicted of crimes involving moral turpitude should be allowed to return to the Knesset.

In an op-ed published in Haaretz, IDI Vice President Mordechai Kremnitzer and researcher Attorney Amir Fuchs point out that despite the assault on democratic values witnessed in the outgoing Knesset, "democracy" does not seem to be on the agenda in the current election campaign.

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.

Attorney Amir Fuchs responds to Research Fellow Yair Sheleg's article "Appropriate and Inappropriate Evacuation," and takes exception to some of the arguments that it raised regarding the evacuation of settlements in Judea and Samaria on the basis of property rights.

IDI Vice President Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer and Adv. Amir Fuchs analyze the proposed legislation that would allow the Knesset to reinstate laws that have been struck down by the Israeli High Court and warn of a threat to judicial review and civil liberties.

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.

Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer and Attorney Amir Fuchs explain why they see the "Bar Association Bill" as undermining the rule of law. This bill would change the way that the Bar Association's representatives to the Judicial Appointments Committee are selected, and would apply retroactively.

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.

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 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.

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.

Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer and Roy Konfino respond to a bill that in practice exempts the State of Israel from compensating Palestinians who live in the occupied territories for any damages the State may have caused them as part of the war on terror.

A symposium on caring for prison inmates who are HIV positive or who refuse to accept medical treatment, conducted by IDI and the Inmate Division of the Israel Prison Service.

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A Conference with the Hemdat Hadarom College of Education

  • Open to the public
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