The Nation-State

Multiple challenges threaten Israel's legitimacy and character as a nation-state. These include the intellectual fashion of post-modernism, the phenomenon of globalization, the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, the persistence of anti-Semitism, and the appearance of non-Zionist visions for Israel's future on an ethnic, ideological or religious basis. 

The Nation-State Program seeks to renew the ideological basis for Zionism in the 21st century and demonstrate the relevance of a democratic Jewish-Israeli identity for contemporary Israelis, while convincing intellectual elites in North America and Europe of the legitimacy of the Jewish-democratic combination in the context of the modern State of Israel.

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    Dr. Shuki Friedman

    Director of the Program

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    A member of the Faculty of Law of the Peres Academic Center, Dr. Shuki Friedman served as secretary of the Locker Committee for Examining the Defense Budget, chairman of the government committee on the sanctions against Iran, and head of the international and foreign law department for the legal division of the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office.

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    Mr. Yair Sheleg

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    A researcher, journalist, author, and publicist, Yair Sheleg has been an astute observer of the religious-Zionist world for many years.

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    Dr. Benny Porat

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    A senior lecturer on the Faculty of Law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the director of the Matz Institute for Jewish Law. After completing his doctorate at the Hebrew University, he was hosted as a post-doctoral fellow by the University of Toronto

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    Adv. Gilad Wiener

Israel has had 12 prime ministers in its 70 years, but none provoked such fierce emotional debates as Netanyahu.

“The great task before all — right and left, religious and secular, Jew and Arab — is to break down the veto power that the extremists among us wield over the center on various fronts”

Israeli society is becoming increasingly polarized with each group holding a very different view of democracy and the State of Israel

The deputy president of the Jerusalem District Court inaugurated the Basic Law on Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People, issuing the first verdict based on it -  imposing punitive damages on Hamas for the severe post-traumatic stress suffered by a Jewish Israeli wounded in a terror attack in Tel Aviv in 1998. 

 

We should simultaneously define Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people and at the same time---the state and home of all its citizens.

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.

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.

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 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. 

Israel is a success story on many levels — social, economic, scientific, and in terms of protecting its security. Nevertheless, many of its citizens see the country as treading water. What is the source of this dissonance?

A state that is proud of its identity has nothing to fear from granting all its citizens equality.

Israel's very legitimacy as a Jewish state is under attack.

Ahead of Israel Independence Day: If we are willing to turn down the volume of the extreme voices and listen instead to the mainstream representatives in each of Israel's sectors, we will find cause for optimism about the shared Israeli future.

The Exodus from Egypt is what brought Israelites their freedom and made them into a nation.

Yair Ettinger discerns between different streams of Religious-Zionist Jews in Israeli society, and analyzes how these schisms play out in the socio-political arena. This piece was originally published by Brookings.

 

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.

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.)

In an op-ed in Yedioth Ahronoth, Prof. Yedidia Stern points to segments of Israel's population that denounce the national values of the State: supporters of “normalization,” ultra-Orthodox Jews, Arab Israelis, and a new group that has joined them: ultra-nationalists.

A conference on the Jewish nation-state, specifically focused on a central current issue: the relationship between the Jewish nation-state and Diaspora Jewry.

  • Open to the public
  • Live
  • Hebrew

What is the relationship between Israel’s Arab minority and the state? What is their position as individuals and as a national group? Arab political leadership has an effect on the answers to these questions. This Israel Democracy Institute Nation-State Program, together with the Injaz Center for Professional Arab Local Governance, invites you to a roundtable discussion to analyze these issues. Discussion will center on the role of Arab leaders in Israel, their complicated relationship with their Arab constituency and the state.

  • Hebrew
  • Open to the public

Co-sponsored by Metzilah - The Center for Zionist, Jewish, Liberal and Humanist Thought

  • Open to the public
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Co-sponsored by IDI and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung in Israel

  • Open to the public
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A full day conference convened by IDI's Nation State project and Religion and State project.

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On Sunday and Monday, June 19–20, 2011, IDI hosted an international conference that explored questions of religion and state in Israel, the Middle East, and Western culture. The conference was conducted under the auspices of IDI's Nation State project, headed by IDI Senior Fellow and Israel Prize laureate Prof. Anita Shapira.

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On May 26-27, 2010, The Israel Democracy Institute hosted an International Workshop on Bi-Nationalism. During this workshop, leading Israeli and International scholars explored the historical record of bi-nationalist polities, examined multi-national models, and analyzed the uniqueness of the State of Israel as a Jewish nation-state.

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