Center for Security and Democracy

The Center for Security and Democracy addresses what is perhaps the greatest challenge facing the State of Israel: how to preserve a free society under conditions of permanent siege.  Its mission is to assist decision-makers to craft a proper balance between competing values: the imperative of preserving Israel's national security on the one hand, and the need to protect human rights and civil liberties on the other. The center works on questions of national security and the law, civil-military relations, counterterrorism policy and Israel's international legitimacy in the struggle against terrorism.

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    Prof. Yuval Shany

    Vice President, Research

    Vice President, Research

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    Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer

    Senior Fellow

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    Professor Kremnitzer is a professor emeritus of the Faculty of law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, former dean of the Faculty of Law, and director of the Israeli Press Council.

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    Admiral (Res.) Amichay (Ami) Ayalon

    Co-director, Amnon Lipkin-Shahak Program on National Security and Democracy

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    Admiral (Res.) Ami Ayalon is a former director of the Shin Bet, commander of the Israeli Navy, government minister and member of Knesset.

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    Prof. Amichai Cohen

    Co-director, The Amnon Lipkin-Shahak Program on National Security and Democracy

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    Professor Amichai Cohen is a member of the Faculty of Law at Ono Academic College. He earned his LL.B. from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and his LL.M. and LL.D. from Yale Law School at Yale University.


Despite the verdict, the real story in the Azaria affair is the moral, not the legal, issue, and this debate is alive and well.

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.

In a poignant op-ed, published by the Jewish Journal, Dr. Idit Shafran Gittleman confronts the issue of the price a country should pay to bring home its captive soldiers, including those who have been declared dead.

Israel's security agencies have sweeping surveillance powers, but are subjected to few checks and balances.

Israel has been in a state of emergency since 1948. But the nature of the threat has changed over-time—from full-scale military invasions to isolated airplane hijackings, from suicide bombings to missile attacks, and most recently, cyber and lone wolf terrorism.
These ever-evolving threats necessitate new responses and strategies.

It is almost certain that readers of this article will not recognize the name of this man, the terrorist who caused more damage to Israel’s security than any other attacker in recent years. His name is Abdel Fattah al-Sharif, 21, from Hebron.

While there is no way to know whether the military picture of the recent Gaza war would have been different had members of the security cabinet been kept abreast of the tunnel threat, there can be no doubt that what occurred was a failure of Israel’s democracy.

Even before the conclusion of the Elor Azaria trial, there were calls for the 'Hebron Shooter' to be pardoned. Under such circumstances, what does a pardon entail and how can an IDF soldier who had been sentenced in a military court of law be granted one?

The primary significance of Resolution 2334 is that it strengthens other initiatives whose purpose is to punish Israel, its leaders and businesses for their involvement in the settlement enterprise. 

Recent events surrounding the evacuation of the Israeli settlement of Amona have ignited a long-simmering debate within Israeli society regarding the construction of a small portion of settlements on privately-owned Palestinian land in Judea and Samaria.

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.

Israel's senior political leaders are playing with fire when they publicly justify violating the rules of war and ethical conduct. Troublingly, a majority of the Israeli Jewish public agrees.

In the last decade, no member of the IDF has been convicted of an offense as serious as that with which Azaria is charged.

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.

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 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

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.

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.)

What are the implications of each potential political solution for the territories, Judea and Samaria? How will Israel be affected in each scenario? What are the implications for democracy, security, Arabs and the settlers?

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The “Security Matters” blog is a new platform run under the auspices of the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI). It serves as an online forum for analyzing those issues that straddle the border between national security and democracy. IDI’s goal is to contribute to the public-academic discussion already taking place around issues of national security through diverse posts by writers who come at the issues from different vantage points, including law, ethics and sociology. Security Matters is edited by IDI researchers. However, it is open to the thoughts and opinions of writers within and without of the Institute.

We encourage other relevant thought leaders to contribute to and become a part of the discussion. Please note: The opinions published by Security Matters are those of the writers and only the writers.

They do not represent the institutes or organizations in which they work, the views of the blog editors or of IDI.