In recent weeks, since the outbreak of the war in Gaza, some 800 new civilian defense squads have been set up throughout Israel. Each squad consists of local residents who serve as civilian operational reserve forces, available for rapid deployment to assist national security forces during security events and emergency situations.
Attempts by the Prime Minister to influence the Chief Censor may indicate a concerning erosion of the Military Censor’s independence and professionalism. Clearly, state secrets must be protected, especially during war, but there are better ways for this to be accomplished, more suited to a democratic state.
Tendentious interpretations of international law are not surprising considering the high emotions surrounding the long and bloody Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, to serve its purpose guiding the conduct of States and retain a high degree of legitimacy, international law must serve as a common legal language.
The state has a moral and ethical duty of the highest order to act as quickly as possible to free and return all the hostages and the missing. But what is the legal mechanism that should be applied when agreeing deals to secure their release which also involve freeing Palestinian prisoners from Israeli prisons?
The paradigm of reliance on technology for our security seems to have led us to a point in which infinite data points and technological tools are at our disposal failed to produce a response. It is of course essential to continue investing in technological superiority, but this needs to be done with a clearer head.
The heads of the established traditional Haredi yeshivot have instructed their institutions to continue studies as normal during the current state of emergency, in accordance with the belief in the power of Torah study to protect the people of Israel. By contrast, the messages heard from various other rabbis reflect an understanding of changing needs and offer a blueprint for a new leadership vision.
Israel's new firearms regulations now allow hundreds of thousands of citizens to carry handguns, without the necessary checks or oversight. They have been passed too rapidly during the current emergency, without enough thought about the dangerous consequences of dramatically expanding eligibility for a handgun license.
Policing does not usually involve battles with terrorists. But the unique situation in Israel has shaped the role of our police officers to include internal security missions. What are the skills and capabilities required of police officers in Israel? Do they have sufficient funding? Those are some of the questions Israeli society must attend to once the current crisis is over.
One of the important lessons learned from the Yom Kippur War was that the authority of government ministers to decide on security-related matters must be strengthened; However, even after five decades, the proper balance between the authority of the prime minister and the members of the security cabinet has not yet been properly regulated.
Over the years and especially in recent decades, the concept of gender equality has also become relevant to the discussion of military service, and more and more roles have been opened up to women serving in the IDF. Dr. Idit Shafran Gittleman presents an overview of women in the IDF since its establishment.
The second day of the conference focused on public trust in the military and the challenges peripheral communities face in the IDF. Among those presenting were Minister Matan Kahane, Minister Penina Tamano-Shata, former Justice Hanan Meltzer and Major General Eliezer Toledano, the IDF's Commander of the Southern Command.
IDI's annual conference on National Security and Democracy opened with a focus on the question of whether the current IDF model of service is sustainable, what other models should be considered and included a session on public attitudes towards the IDF. The conference is held in partnership with the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.
While Israelis award the IDF good grades for its operational capabilities and ethical conduct in combat, less than a third of the public think the IDF is managing its budget well and in a fiscally-responsible manner. 47% of Jewish Israelis now think that the IDF should abandon its 'people's army' model and transition to a professional standing military.
Israel’s responses in each of these two arenas, internally in Israeli cities and externally vis-à-vis Gaza, may have dramatic consequences for the future. The ultimate goal of Hamas is to drag the “Arabs of 1948” (Israel’s Arab citizens) into the conflict. Even today, it is important to note the growing desire of the majority of Arab citizens to integrate in Israeli society, and to drive a wedge between them and the leaders in Gaza
The second day of the Israel Democracy Institute's Center for National Security and Democracy annual conference, held in partnership with the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (Israel office), concluded today (Wednesday). The online conference focused on public trust in the IDF, the militarization of a civilian crisis, the IDF model of service and gender equality in the military.
IDI's annual conference on National Security and Democracy, held in partnership with the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (Israel office), convened top officers and academic experts to discuss the changing relations between the IDF and Israeli society and draw lessons for the future from the military’s unprecedented involvement in the civilian COVID-19 crisis.
After three contentious election campaigns Israel's new government has been sworn in. IDI's experts weigh-in with their recommendations on the most important issues on the agenda. Prof. Amichai Cohen writes about the matters that should be at the top of the agenda to improve Israel's security and resilience.
In its fight against terrorism, Israel has often been proud of its ability to effectively fight terrorism, while remaining faithful to democratic principles. House demolitions were always considered a necessary evil, which could be resorted to in very exceptional circumstances - are we now facing populist trends that runs contrary to the traditional ethos of subjecting counterterrorism policies to rule-of-law constraints.
Israel’s supporters, who have the nation’s best interests at heart, should resist the urge to engage in partisan smear campaigns that attempt to tarnish the reputations of patriots who are on the frontlines of the struggle for Israel’s legitimacy as a Jewish and democratic state. We have enough enemies on our borders.
Ron Huldai, Mayor of Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality: "The establishment of the Democracy Pavilion is an impressive demonstration of Israeli democracy. Only in a democratic society can freedom and tolerance co-exist. This is what allows the opposing sectors of Israeli society to live side by side." The Democracy Pavilion is located at the start of the Independence Trail in Tel Aviv and is open to the public free of charge.
Despite the transformation of Israeli society, the IDF’s model of service has not changed. Military service continues to be a rite of passage for young Israelis and the IDF retains its status as the most trusted institution in Israel. Prof. Yuval Shany, Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Orna Barbivai and Prof. Amichai Cohen sit down to discuss the challenges facing the IDF and Israeli society in a changing security environment.
The state of Israel has also been grappling in recent years with an intense controversy over the service of women in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), which recently came to a boiling point with the amendment of the “Joint Service Order,” which sets out guidelines for women’s military service alongside Orthodox men
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 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.
The upcoming High Holidays are an opportunity to expand our perception beyond our selves and communities. This article was first published by the New York Jewish Week.
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.
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.
In an op-ed first published by The Jerusalem Report, Prof. Yedidia Stern says this intifada of knives has left Israel in a twilight zone. It is not a time of war, in which the army is permitted to use arms more freely. But nor is it a time of peace in which any use of arms is seen as most irregular. Sharp differences of opinion between the public and the army could lead to a crisis in public confidence in the military high command. There is a crying need for responsible leadership.
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
Are home demolitions legal? And are they effective? Both IDF commanders and Israeli Supreme Court judges have raised doubts on the matter. In an op-ed published by The Jerusalem Post, IDI's Tal Mimran says the time has come to reevaluate Israeli policy.
The Peace Index has shown us that when it comes to the political situation, the majority of the Israeli Jewish population is in a conceptual fog. On the one hand, the Israeli center and center-left has become growingly frustrated and disillusioned with the option of peace as it was perceived in the early ‘90s. On the other hand, the center and center-right have come to acknowledge that there must be a solution and that this solution could mean some type of splitting of the land, most probably a two-state solution. This article was first published by the Jerusalem Post.
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.
In the aftermath of the Tel-Aviv terror attack, it is becoming increasingly clear that the current round of terror will not end soon. When there are casualties of attacks, not only do security issues arise, but so do medical issues – and these can be equally as complicated. This article originally appeared in Crescent City Jewish News.
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.
Is demolishing terrorists' homes an effective deterrent? Israel Democracy Institute research – based on previous work conducted by the security establishment – has cast a doubt on its value. There was also a research report published in 2005 by a professional committee led by Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Udi Shani, which led to the cessation of house demolitions for three years.
A society that is doomed to live forever by the sword cannot hope to be truly humanist and democratic. Originally published in the Jerusalem Report.
Twenty years have passed since Yigal Amir murdered Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Both for political reasons and for the sake of national unity, Israeli society has avoided a fundamental and straightforward examination of the background, meaning, and implications of this event. But unity cannot be based on whitewash or false symmetry between left and right. The following is an invitation to conduct the kind of inquiry that is necessary.
Nasreen Hadad Haj-Yahya and Eli Bahar say the biggest difference between the security situations in 2000 and now is the profound lack of understanding between the two sides. This article was first published on the Times of Israel website.
IDI Researcher Attorney Eli Bahar discusses the central role that members of Israel's system of legal counsel play in formulating the rules of what is permissible during warfare in real time, during the fighting, in order to ensure that Israel's citizens will not be ashamed of themselves after the fighting ceases.
In an op-ed in The Jerusalem Post, Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer and Prof. Yuval Shany discuss the need for measures, laws, and institutions designed to combat the war on terror in order to strike a balance between concern for national security and the need to safeguard democratic values such as human rights and the rule of law.
As the world considers the threat of a nuclear Iran, Israeli public discourse has focused primarily on whether or not Israel should launch a preemptive strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. But who has the authority to decide whether a military operation should be conducted? In this article, IDI Vice President Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer and researcher Eyal Tsur explore the strengths and weaknesses of the current division of responsibility regarding this matter, and recommend ways of improving the system.
In her article Adi Mintz argues that while for some the Disengagement in 2005 represented a pinnacle of democracy, she experienced it as a deterioration of democracy. At the center of her argument is what she considers to be Ariel Sharon's referendum-dismissive nature, as she suggests that what took place during the Disengagement was not a "truly democratic struggle for public opinion."
This article presents the main milestones in the recurring attempts to put a satisfactory arrangement for the deferment of military service for yeshiva students in place. In doing so, it surfaces the changes that have occurred over time in the constitutional, legal, and public responses and attitudes on this issue.
Despite the verdict, the real story in the Azaria affair is the moral, not the legal, issue, and this debate is alive and well.
Israel's Military Censor, an institution that has no parallel in any other democracy in the world, must cease to exist.
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.
IDI was quoted in nearly 500 articles connected to the Elor Azaria verdict, including interviews with Yohanan Plesner, Yedidia Stern, Mota Kremnitzer, Amichai Cohen, Tamar Hermann and Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler. We reached a potential 403 million individuals, through coverage in 28 countries and 42 states, plus Washington, D.C.
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.