Civil Liberties

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Articles

Op-ed

The Right to Know: A Right, Not a Gift

The challenge of freedom of information goes beyond the balance between the right to information and the limits of that right.

Op-ed

Healthy Public Curiosity vs. Official Privacy

Dr. Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler argues that the Protection of Privacy Law does not create an absolute right, and whoever enters public life must be able to give up parts of his/her privacy, no matter how difficult that might be. This op-ed originally appeared in the Atlanta Jewish Times.

Op-ed

Decade in Review: Human Rights in Israel

IDI Vice President Professor Mordechai Kremnitzer weighs in on the challenges faced by Israel's High Court of Justice, in an article that was published at the end of the third millennium as part of a collaboration between IDI and Walla!, a popular Israeli website.

The Tel Aviv Review Podcast

Private Eyes: Data, Metadata and Civil Rights

Professor Yuval Shany discusses the seeming dissonance between Israel's advanced surveillance technology, the minimal restrictions on using it, and a citizenry that hardly cares– and why all this might have to change

Article

25 Events that Impacted Israeli Democracy

In honor of the 25th anniversary of the Israel Democracy Institute, we feature a list of the 25 formative events that shaped Israeli democracy.

Op-ed

Expand Israeli Absentee Voting Rights

In this op-ed, which first appeared on the Times of Israel, IDI's Ofer Kenig argues that it is time to cautiously expand the right of absentee voting to more Israelis.

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Research reel

The Case for Substantive Democracy

As calls for a "majoritarian democracy" gain strength in Israel, IDI's President warns of the dangers associated with a tyranny of the majority, and makes the case for a richer interpretation of democracy, grounded in the principles of liberty, equality and the separation of powers.

Op-ed

Are Israeli soldiers at risk of prosecution abroad?

Prof. Amichai Cohen argues that there is only one good way to prevent prosecution of Israeli soldiers abroad: Israeli authorities must conduct effective, independent, and genuine investigations in cases where there are suspicions of war crimes or other violations. This article was first published by Times of Israel.

Op-ed

Only As a Democracy Will We Win

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.

Op-ed

The End of the Chief Rabbinate?

According to Dr. Shuki Friedman, the rabbinate's failure to provide adequate religious services caused the current trend towards privatization of religious services, which is creating a de-facto separation between religion and the state.

Op-ed

Democracy's Hatred for Hate

IDI President Yohanan Plesner writes that while democracy may be considered a fragile regime that has difficulties coping with extremism, there are still powerful means in the democratic toolbox that can and must be utilized to deal with the threats of homegrown terrorism and hatred of the "other", which can undermine Israel's character as a democratic state.

Op-ed

Override: A Serious Blow to Democracy

Dr. Amir Fuchs argues that an override of Supreme Court decisions should be stoutly resisted by democrats from all parts of the political spectrum.

Op-ed

Privatization of Prisons: The Path to a Corporate Regime

 Effi Michaeli, warns against the full privatization of prisons and argues that such a decision represents a breach of boundaries that can transform Israel into a corporate regime.

Op-ed

Jabotinsky's Vision of a Democratic, Jewish Nation State

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.

Op-ed

Faking Feminism

The issue of the exclusion of women and their marginalization in Israeli society has dominated the media in Israel during the past few weeks. In this article, which was originally published in The Seventh Eye on December 25, 2011, Dr. Debora Lederman-Danieli argues that the media's struggle against the phenomenon of the degradation of women requires much more than disingenuous, populist outcries.

Op-ed

An Invitation to Racism

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.

Op-ed

How To Prevent A Religious Civil War From Consuming Western Europe

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.

Op-ed

A History Lesson

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

Op-ed

An Israeli Shabbat

What does Shabbat and its observance look like in the State of Israel? Can every individual enjoy this day of rest in the way he/she chooses? Are there actually individuals who are forced to give up Shabbat as a result of a lack of choice or economic coercion? IDI scholar Dr. Shuki Friedman explains in this article which originally appeared on eJewish Philanthropy.

Article

Could Profiling Prevent Another Orlando Shooting?

Often missed in the civil liberties debate over profiling is evidence that shows it is not effective. But proponents point to Israel, whose airport screening has kept it free of attacks since 1972.

Op-ed

Responsibility to Protect – a Right of Self-Defense for All States against Atrocities

This essay makes a case for the international community’s right of self-defense against atrocities, through its members, and to refer briefly to the challenge of implementing such a right. 

Op-ed

Judicial Appointment Highlights Dramatic Changes Among Israeli Haredim

Earlier this month, change snuck in through the back door of Israel's court system when Israel’s first ultra-Orthodox judge was appointed. This article was first published by the Jewish Press.

Op-ed

Education for Democratic Values and Combating Racism through Education

IDI Vice President Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer and Noam Lautman, Chairman of the Lautman Fund, recommend ways in which the Israeli educational system can strengthen democratic values, and warn that students should not be forced to choose between two competing alternatives—Israel as a nation-state or as a "state of all its citizens."

Op-ed

New Partners in the Struggle Against Terrorism

Yohanan Plesner argues that as Denmark grieves for a terror attack on its soil, Israeli leaders must broadcast "a message of partnership among democracies battling terrorism without sacrificing their democratic values."

Op-ed

Civil Unions in Israel as a Democratic Compromise

Prof. Shahar Lifshitz, author of an IDI policy paper proposing a spousal registry as a framework for civil unions in Israel, welcomes the reintroduction of this issue to the public agenda but expresses some concern about the formulation of the current bill.

Op-ed

Confronting the Rabin Assassination

Nineteen years after the murder of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, IDI Vice President Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer explores the background, meaning, and ramifications of this event, taking a hard look at some of the dangers he sees in Israeli society today.

Op-ed

John Doe v. Jane Doe: Several Comments on the Privacy Revolution of Noam Solberg

IDI Researcher Dr. Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler analyzes a Supreme Court ruling that recalled a book and struck a balance between the right to privacy and the right to freedom of expression, and discusses larger questions of privacy in the digital age.

Op-ed

Force-Feeding Prisoners: A Serious Violation of Human Dignity

In an op-ed in <em>Maariv</em>, Attorney Amir Fuchs warns that force feeding hunger striking prisoners is a serious violation of human dignity, and should not be permitted in order to serve public relations efforts of the State of Israel.

Op-ed

The Lessons of Passover: We are the Other

Prof. Yedidia Z. Stern asserts that if we see ourselves as "other" and identify with the stranger, the poor, and people with disabilities, historic redemption of our ancestors from Egypt will be an ongoing redemption for our generation.

Op-ed

A Truly Supreme Court

In an op-ed in TheMarker, IDI Vice President Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer and Dr. Guy Lurie discuss the benefits of establishing a new appellate court between the district courts and the Supreme Court.

Article

Do You Have to Earn Dignity?

Is dignity something that must be earned? Prof. Tamar Hermann, Head of IDI's Guttman Center for Surveys, explores this question, as IDI's Israel Speaks project assembles 200 citizens to begin drafting a Declaration of Human Dignity.

Policy Statement

Civil Unions for All

Prof. Shahar Lifshitz explains why IDI's proposal for civil unions, which was first presented in his IDI policy paper The Spousal Registry, is the best solution possible today for alleviating the distress of couples who cannot or do not want to marry in a religious ceremony in Israel.

Op-ed

Organized Criminals Today, Everyone Else Tomorrow

In an op-ed in Haaretz, Attorney Lina Saba-Habesch warns that extending the use of administrative detention to apply to suspects in cases of organized crime could lead to the use of this extreme method, or of other extreme methods, in combating other forms of crime.

Op-ed

Ben-Gurion and Jabotinsky are Turning in their Graves

The text of an ad placed by IDI in three major Israeli newspapers soon after the Knesset passed the Anti-Boycott Law and just before its vote on legislation that would mandate investigations of human rights organizations, calling on Israel's legislature and judiciary to defend Israeli democracy from an onslaught of irresponsible legislative initiatives.

Asylum Seekers in Israel: A Snapshot

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.

Article

Abstract: Health Inequality of Arabs and Jews in Israel

A paper that reviews the state of research on health inequality between Jews and Arabs in Israel in order to develop a comprehensive research program that will contribute to the understanding of the factors leading to inequality.

Policy Statement

Policy Statement: The 'Facebook Bill' (Hebrew)

Ahead of a recent discussion by the Ministerial Committee on Legislation on the “Facebook Bill,” IDI’s Dr. Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler wrote a policy statement in which she called the bill non-applicable to the modern day. She said the bill is likely to cause disproportionate censorship through what will be dysfunctional legal proceedings.

Op-ed

Israel’s next Equal Employment Opportunity Commissioner should be an Arab

The identity of the next commissioner is so important.

Op-ed

United by Outrage? Israel's Arab Citizens and American Jews

Now you know what it's like to feel marginalized and unequal in Israel. Arab citizens know that all too well. That's why we must join forces.

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Op-ed

Events in Jordan Prove the Power of Israel's Censor Has Grown

Israel's Military Censor, an institution that has no parallel in any other democracy in the world, must cease to exist.

Op-ed

Who's Afraid of a Jewish State with Equality for All?

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

Op-ed

The Binding of the Boy from Damascus

How should Jews in Israel feel about the mass slaughter of Arabs by Arabs just a few miles away? IDI Vice President Prof. Yedidia Z. Stern shares thoughts in this article, which was originally published in The Jewish Week.

Op-ed

Disqualifying Zoabi: Bad for Security and Bad for Democracy

As the Central Elections Committee begins to debate disqualifying MK Hanin Zoabi and others from running for Knesset, IDI Senior Fellow Ami Ayalon writes that as distasteful as some of her words may be, banning Zoabi from running would be a victory for Israel's detractors.

Op-ed

Education for Democracy as a Remedy for Violence

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.

Op-ed

Only a Constitution will Ensure Good Governance in Israel

IDI researcher Attorney Amir Fuchs asserts that the only way for Israel to ensure good governance is by adopting a constitution.

Op-ed

Human Rights under Attack

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.

Op-ed

From Institutions to Community Housing

Rabbi Dr. Benjamin Lau, head of IDI's Human Rights and Judaism in Action project, presents the transition from institutions to homes in the community for people with disabilities as a Jewish imperative.

Op-ed

Blind to the Rights of the Disabled

In an article in The Jewish Week, Rabbi Dr. Benjamin (Benny) Lau calls on religious authorities who hold human rights dear to find a way to allow people with disabilities to have access to the Western Wall plaza.

Op-ed

Banning Arab Workers: A Hypocritical Condemnation

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.

Op-ed

A Ready Alternative to the Nation State Law

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.

Policy Statement

IDI Experts Submit Legal Opinion on Basic Law: Israel as the Nation State of the Jewish People

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.

Article

On the Punishment of MK Hanin Zoabi by the Knesset Ethics Committee

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.

Op-ed

On Intermarriage, Judaism, and Democracy in Israel

Rabbi Dr. Benjamin Lau shares thoughts on the tension between Judaism and democracy, in response to the public protests against the marriage of a Jewish woman who converted to Islam and an Israeli Arab. 

Op-ed

Heart vs. Head: The Case of Hanin Zoabi

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.

Op-ed

Building a Shared Society: On the Priorities of the Israel Police

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.

Op-ed

The Haredi Draft: Is the Shaked Committee's Bill Destined to be Overturned?

As the Shaked Committee begins to vote on its proposal for the Haredi draft, Prof. Yedidia Z. Stern warns that the proposal's recommendation to exempt Haredi men of draft age during a three-year "adjustment period" is both inequitable and ineffective. 

Op-ed

Non-Jews in a Jewish State: Searching for a New Paradigm

In an article in The Jewish Week, Rabbi Dr. Kalman Neuman of IDI's Religion and State project examines some of the thorny questions of Jewish law when it comes to non-Jews in a Jewish state.

Op-ed

Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer Speaks Out on Using Administrative Detention in Cases of Organized Crime

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. 

Op-ed

What Can We Learn about Israeli Policy Making from the Supreme Court's Ruling on the Anti-Infiltration Law?

Attorney Talya Steiner warns that a Supreme Court's judgment that struck down an amendment of Israel's anti-infiltration law as unconstitutional points to significant flaws in Israel's process of policy-making.

Op-ed

The Contributors to the State Bill: Contributing to the Jewish-Arab Divide

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.

Op-ed

No to the Separation of Religion and State in Israel

Should the American model of separation of church and state be applied to Israel? In an article in <em>The Jewish Week</em>, IDI's Yair Sheleg argues that Israel needs a unique model.

Op-ed

Separating the Prosecution from the Police

Most criminal cases in Israel are prosecuted by the Israel Police rather than by the State Prosecutor. Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer and Dr. Guy Lurie call for a division that would make the Police responsible for investigations and the State Prosecutor responsible for indictments and trials.

Op-ed

On the Need for Civil Unions in Israel

Rabbi Dr. Benjamin (Benny) Lau expresses support for the proposed civil union bill, which would allow couples who do not want to marry in a religious service to form a legally recognized union and be eligible for the benefits and responsibilities associated with marriage.

Op-ed

Regulating Bedouin Settlement: A Disengagement Plan for the Negev

Ronit Levine-Schnur analyzes the Bill to Regulate Bedouin Settlement in the Negev 5773–2013, warns that it seems to be motivated by an exaggerated fear of a Bedouin takeover of the Negev, and offers an alternative approach. 

Op-ed

Quashing Legislation Mandating Lengthy Detention of Asylum-Seekers

Dr. Reuven (Ruvi) Ziegler shares observations on the decision of the Israeli Supreme Court that an amendment of the Prevention of Infiltration Law that mandated lengthy detention of asylum seekers is unconstitutional.

Op-ed

Who is Responsible for Finding a Solution to the Plight of Mesoravot Get?

Prof. Shahar Lifshitz outlines what halakhic authorities and the Knesset can do in order to resolve the issue of get refusal, as discussed at the Second Agunah Summit.

Op-ed

Democracy: The Key Election Issue

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.

Op-ed

A Four-Step Plan to Combat Hatred between Jews and Arabs in Israel

IDI Research Fellow Yair Sheleg outlines four steps that can allay fears, contribute to dialogue, combat hatred, and improve relations between Jews and Arabs in Israel

Policy Statement

Legal Opinion on the "Zoabi Bill"

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.

Op-ed

Overriding the Supreme Court: A Breach in the Wall of Democracy

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.

Article

Second Strike and You Are (Finally) Out? The Quashing of the Prevention of Infiltration Law (Amendment No. 4)

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. 

Op-ed

The Prevention of Infiltration Act in the Supreme Court: Round Two

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.

Op-ed

Basic Law: Israel as the Nation State of the Jewish People – A Danger to the Zionist Enterprise

In an article in the Hebrew weekly <em>Makor Rishon</em>, Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer and Attorney Amir Fuchs argue against the current initiative to pass Basic Law: Israel as the Nation State of the Jewish People, which they see as divisive and problematic.

Article

Israeli Public Opinion on Reducing Funding to Organizations that Mark Independence Day as the "Nakba"

What do Jews in Israel think about the law mandating the reduction of government funds to institutions that mark Israel Independence Day as a day of mourning for the Palestinian "Nakba"? Find out in this mini-survey conducted by IDI's Guttman Center. 

Op-ed

Basic Law: Referendum—Changing the Rules of the Game of Israeli Democracy

Dr. Dana Blander draws on the findings of Israeli public opinion polls and explores some of the ramifications of the new Basic Law: Referendum, a law that establishes a system in which every citizen is entitled to participate in historic decisions on withdrawal from territory.

Op-ed

The Electoral Threshold: Why the Rush?

In an op-ed in the Jerusalem Post, Dr. Ofer Kenig warns that while there is nothing wrong with a moderate increase in Israel's electoral threshold, increasing it from 2% to 3.25% in a single step is problematic.

Op-ed

International Disabilities Day 2013: Human Rights and Judaism in Action

In honor of International Day for Persons with Disabilities, Rabbi Dr. Benjamin (Benny) Lau updates us on IDI's efforts on behalf of people with disabilities and reveals that people with guide dogs are now allowed to access the Western Wall.

Op-ed

The Haredi Draft: Equality Now?!

On November 21 2013, Prof. Yedidia Z. Stern appeared before the Shaked Committee and argued that criminal sanctions are not recommended for reaching conscription goals. In an op-ed in Makor Rishon, he explains why.

Article

Life Under Two Suns: When Human Rights and Jewish Values Collide

The first in a series of articles by researchers from IDI's Judaism and democracy projects and Human Rights and Judaism project on the complementary but tense relations between Judaism and democratic values.

Op-ed

Basic Law: Nation State? Only a Constitution Can Guarantee Israel's National Character

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. 

Op-ed

Is Israeli Society Frail Or Flourishing?

Is Israeli democracy weak, fragile and on the brink of collapse, or is it robust, stable and resilient? 

Op-ed

Time to Include Arabs among the Decision-Makers

The state and its Arab leadership, not only the political leadership, must work together to bring as many Arab citizens as possible into the decision-making echelons.

Op-ed

The Admissions Committees Ruling: A Lack of Ripeness or Refusal to Decide?

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. 

Op-ed

Price Tag Attacks: Racist Crimes

In an article in <em>Haaretz</em>, Attorney Amir Fuchs stresses the need to wage a genuine war against racism, in order to preserve the values of Zionism and safeguard the Jewish and democratic state.