IDI event took place at the King David Hotel and included a keynote address by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The PM awarded IAC Chairman and former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz with an award of appreciation for his service to Israel.
"We are living in times of heightened security concerns and economic hardship," said Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) President Yohanan Plesner, speaking at the organization's sixth annual International Advisory Council (IAC) gala in Jerusalem.
"Too often, the public's yearnings for decisive solutions or easy fixes makes democracy seem like a luxury we cannot afford," Plesner continued. "We are here tonight to remind everyone that Israel's democratic character is not a luxury."
The event, which took place at the King David Hotel, included a keynote address by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The PM awarded IAC Chairman and former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz with an award of appreciation for his service to Israel.
The prime minister said that Shultz set the tone for the success of Israel's economy – a vision that Israel continues to follow to this day.
Speaking about the threat of international terrorism, the PM said, "International terrorism is not the result of the activities of individuals but the work of terror states." He said Shultz understood this and that when the U.S. understood this it made an impactful difference in combatting terrorist threats. "That is what is required today."
It was Shultz, according to Plesner, who charged IDI with its central challenge: How to help Israel preserve an open society under conditions of permanent siege.
"Continued instability constitutes a strategic threat to Israel's future," said Plesner, who highlighted IDI's plan for political reform. "We invite each and every one of you to join us in advancing these efforts."
In his acceptance speech, Shultz noted the complications of governing with "transparency in an era of diversity."
He noted the challenge of religion and terror becoming enmeshed in the 21st century and said, "It is something we need to think through carefully and we need to demolish it."
In the words of Bernard "Bernie" Marcus, chair of the IDI Board of Directors, "A strong Israel is critically important for me -- in my soul and in my heart. … We are nonpartisan and we are here to help you."
The International Advisory Council (see member list) is on a four day visit in Israel from February 12-15. In meetings with government and economic leaders, participants discussed the critical challenges facing Israeli democracy and the crisis of governance in general in the democratic world.