Secularity among Israel’s Jews retains many elements associated with traditional Judaism. Comprising 80 % of Israel’s Jews, they define themselves as secular but nevertheless “do Judaism” by performing rituals and hold to traditional religious worldviews and values. Such behavior is comprehended in Eisenstadt’s “multiple modernities” as well as Berger’s multiple “altars” and “coexistence.” Such behavior may be explained in a new balance between the traditional triad of Peoplehood/Torah[The Law]/and the Land of Israel that has characterized Judaism through the ages and found expression by a Hebrew-speaking people who imported new and diverse modern concepts and sources of authority in the return to their homeland where they constructed a “Jewish” state of ambiguous meanings.
Kahanoff, Maya. Jews and Arabs in Israel Encountering Their Identities. Transformations in Dialogue. Lanham and London: Lexington Books and Jerusalem: Van Leer Institute, 2016.
Jews and Arabs in Israel Encountering their Identities reveals the powerful potential of inter-group dialogues to transform identities and mutually negating relations. Using meetings with Israeli Jewish and Palestinian Arabian students who attend the Hebrew University of Jerusalem as case studies, Kahanoff examines the hidden psychological dimensions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and illustrates how each participant’s sense of identity shifted in response to encounters with conflicting perspectives. Kahanoff contends that an awareness of the limitations of dialogue, without the renunciation of its value, is the most realistic basis upon which to build a sustainable agreement. This book is recommended for scholars of psychology, sociology, religious studies, political science, and communication studies.
Table of Contents
Part I. Center Stage Conversations
Chapter One: Split Discourse: Jews and Arabs Converse
Israel defines itself as a Jewish state by way of ideology, policy, and constitutionality. Jewish immigration is encouraged, and rewarded with direct access to Israeli citizenship for olim (Jewish immigrants) and their immediate family. The legal situation for foreign, non-Jewish partners, and spouses of Israeli Jewish citizens is different: these non-Jewish immigrants can potentially access Israeli citizenship through the Nationality Law. These different inroads into Israeli citizenship for both groups must be seen in connection to diasporic Jewish history, Israeli history, the country’s geopolitical situation, as well as attitudes toward intermarriage. In practice this means that the incorporation of non-Jewish spouses of olim is a compromise to bolster Jewish immigration, while the problems of incorporating the partners/spouses of Israeli Jewish citizens stem from (historic and current) negative attitudes toward intermarriage, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, and labour migration, all of which ramify into the issue of family reunion for all Israeli citizens.
This column consists of capsule reviews of recent books about Israel, the Palestinians, and related subjects from various publishers. This special focus is intended to help analysts to better understand the trends in the histories of Israel and the Palestinians, the internal and external terrorist challenges facing them, and the components that may be required to formulate effective counterterrorism and conflict resolution strategies to solve their long conflict.
Sasley, Brent E., and Harold M. Waller. Politics in Israel: Governing a Complex Society. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.
This is the first textbook on Israel to utilize a historical-sociological approach, telling the story of Israeli politics rather than simply presenting a series of dry facts and figures. The book emphasizes six specific dimensions of the conduct of Israeli politics: the weight of historical processes, the struggle between different groups over how to define the country’s identity, changing understandings of Zionism, a changing political culture, the influence of the external threat environment, and the inclusive nature of the democratic process. These themes offer students a framework to use for understanding contemporary political events within the country. Politics in Israel also includes several chapters on topics not previously addressed in competing texts, including historical conditions that led to the emergence of Zionism in Israel, the politics of the Arab minority, and interest groups and political protest.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Israel in Historical and Comparative Perspective
Israel in a Comparative Framework
Major Themes of the Book
A Note on Terminology
PART I: HISTORICAL PROCESSES Chronology of Key Events Chapter 2: Zionism and the Origins of Israel
Jewish History before Zionism
The Jewish Predicament in the 19th Century
The Founding of the Zionist Movement
Implications of Zionism
Herzl’s Path to Zionism
Organizing the Zionist Movement
The Palestine Mandate
Chapter 3: Yishuv Politics during theMandate Period
Constructing a Jewish Society
Development of a Party System
Conflict between Arabs and Jews in Mandatory Palestine
Deteriorating Zionist-British Relations
The End of the Mandate
The Mandate Period in Perspective
Chapter 4: State Building After 1948 Mamlachtiut
The Political Arena
Personal Status Issues
Other State-Building Efforts
PART II: ISRAELI SOCIETY
Chapter 5: Political Culture and Demography
The Pre-State Period
Foundational Values of the State
Changes since 1967
From Collectivism to Individualism
Political Culture in the Arab Community
Chapter 6: Religion and Politics
Religion and the Idea of a Jewish State
Setting the Parameters of the Religion-State Relationship
Growing Involvement in Politics
Issues in Religion-State Relations after 2000
Religious Parties and Coalition Politics
Chapter 7: The Politics of the Arab Minority
What’s in a Name?
Changing Politics of the Community
Jewish Attitudes toward the Arab Minority
Arab Leaders and the Arab Public
Sayed Kashua as Barometer?
PART III: THE POLITICAL PROCESS
Chapter 8: The Electoral System
The Development of an Electoral System
Parties and Lists
Chapter 9: Political Parties and the Party System
Center or “Third” Parties
Ethnic or Special Issues Parties
Chapter 10: Voting Patterns
Four Main Issues
Chapter 11: Interest Groups and Political Protest
Changing Access in the Israeli Political System
Chapter 12: The Knesset
Structure of the Knesset
Functions and Powers of the Knesset
Relationship to the Government
Chapter 13: The Government
The Government at the Center of the System
Powers of the Government
Forming a Government
Maintaining and Running a Government
Relations with the Knesset
The President of the State
Chapter 14: The Judiciary and the Development of Constitutional Law
The Judicial System
Structure of the Court System
The Religious Court System
The Attorney General
Basic Laws: A Constitution in the Making?
Interpreting the Constitution
PART V: POLITICS AND POLICYMAKING
Chapter 15: Political Economy
Ideas about Economic Development in the Yishuv
A State(ist) Economy
Likud and the Free Market
Chapter 16: The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Three Levels of Threat Perception
Israel’s Threat Environment
Hawks and Doves in the Political System
The Defense Establishment
PART VI: THE TRANSFORMATiON OF ISRAELI POLITICS Chapter 17: The Changing Political Arena
A More Complex Society
An Economic Transformation
Transformation of the Security Situation
The Israeli-Palestinian Relationship
Dampening of Ideology
Political Culture and the Party System
The Passing of a Heroic Generation
A More Consequential Arab Sector
The Transformation of the Judiciary
Change versus Continuity
Chapter 18: Confronting the Meaning of a Jewish State
The Political Question: What is Jewish and Democratic?
The Social Question: Who Belongs?
The Academic Question: Whose Historiography?
BRENT E. SASLEY is Associate Professor of Political Science at The University of Texas at Arlington. HAROLD M. WALLER is Professor of Political Science at McGill University.
Ethnic democracy is an analytic model meant to describe a form of state that combines majoritarian electoral procedures and respect for the rule of law and individual citizenship rights with the institutionalized dominance of a majority ethnic group over a society. Ethnic democracy consists of two incompatible constitutional principles: liberal democracy, which mandates equal protection of all citizens, and ethnonationalism, which privileges the core ethnic group. Critics of the model have pointed out that the tension between these two contradictory principles causes inherent instability in this form of state. This tension could be overcome, however, and ethnic democracy could be stabilized, if a third constitutional principle, mediating between liberal democracy and ethnic nationalism, were to exist in the political culture.
The purpose of this article is twofold. First, it offers a thesis explaining why the religion and state discussion in Israel has historically been Jewish-centered. This part of my thesis dwells on the constitutional attributes of the jurisdiction accorded to the Palestinian-Arab millets, which has been characterized as liberal in nature and seen as a measure of the tolerance of the Jewish state towards non-Jewish religious minorities. However, as I shall show, this was not the dominant perception or concern when rabbinical jurisdiction was established. For various political reasons intertwined with Israel’s nature as a Jewish nation state, rabbinical jurisdiction was conceived of as a necessity. Indeed, in terms of liberalism, rabbinical jurisdiction is generally regarded as illiberal or even coercive. This ontological difference in the nature of the jurisdictional authority of rabbinical courts (as a necessary illiberal concession) on the one hand, and the Palestinian-Arab religious communities (as a generous liberal accommodation) on the other hand, is what makes the mixing of both analytically unfeasible. But how much of the jurisdictional authority granted to the Palestinian-Arab religious communities is in fact liberal and tolerant in nature? My second argument in this article seeks to show that this seemingly liberal attitude is an illusion. Building on newly discovered archival materials as well as on international legal instruments that pre-date the establishment of the state of Israel I will argue that the central motivations behind the recognition accorded to the Palestinian-Arab religious communities were primarily driven by the interests of the Israeli establishment rather than by a concern for the well-being of the minority communities, and so the liberalism that was the perceived justification as to why Israel recognized in the Palestinian-Arab millets is certainly of a tainted form.
This article is divided into five main sections. Section One gives an overview of Israel’s constitutional nature as a Jewish nation-state and identifies the existence of two major paradigms that govern the jurisdictional authority of the various religious courts. The four subsequent sections are historical in nature and outline the factors that motivated the Israeli establishment when considering the recognition of the Palestinian-Arab religious courts. Section Two highlights the importance of maintaining the Palestinian-Arab millets to Israel’s foreign policy, especially in the decade that followed the state’s establishment, when international recognition and support were crucial for the state’s effort to subsist. Section Three reveals how the establishment of the Palestinian-Arab millets was used by Israel to divide and conquer its minorities. Section Four focuses on the importance of religious endogamy in preserving Jewish identity. Section Five relates to the interests of the Palestinian-Arab community in preserving the existing millet system, which was not invented by Israel — it existed under Ottoman rule for centuries.11 In the overall analysis, however, although this factor undoubtedly overlaps with the preceding three, it was not equally significant.
The discourses that framed nationalist movements, as soon as they proved useful tools for political power, became tools that could be wielded in a violent fashion under the guise of liberal equal rights. As the French case of laïcité demonstrates, the liberal urge for equal rights is already parasitic on an identity chauvinism that works to assimilate, homogenize, and manage various life worlds. In the name of freedom, these approaches advance constraints on the possible social and political imaginings that we might conjure. Through these ideologies of identity, the demand that Muslims renounce Daish can appear seemingly reasonable. Similarly, the blame cast on Jews the world over for the policies of the Israeli government are strengthened by the presumptive affiliation between Judaism and nationalism. In either case, the identity politics appears necessary for modern-day nationalism to function within an era of so-called globalization. Without recourse to identity, the imperative to manage and maintain power-political hierarchies through the division of the sociopolitical terrain (i.e., nationalism) would be rendered impotent. The first step toward eliminating the recent forms of prejudicial political violence is the recognition that modern identity politics militates against a world where physical barriers, political boundaries, and discursive networks are rapidly reorganizing.
Pardo, Sharon. Normative Power Europe Meets Israel: Perceptions and Realities. Lanham and Boulder: Lexington Books, 2015.
The book draws on some of the scholarship in perception studies and “Normative Power Europe” theory. The study of perceptions, although dating back to the mid-1970s, is gaining renewed currency in recent years both in international relations, in general, and in European Union studies, in particular. And yet, despite the significance of external perceptions of the European Union, there is still a lack of theoretical forays into this area as well as an absence of empirical investigations of actual external role conceptions. These lacunae in scholarly work are significant, since how the European Union is perceived outside its borders, and what factors shape these perceptions, are crucial for deepening the theory of “Normative Power Europe.” The book analyzes Israeli perceptions towards “Normative Power Europe,” the European Union, and NATO through five themes that, the book argues, underscore different dimensions of key Israeli conceptions of “Normative Power Europe” and NATO. The book seeks to contribute to the existing research on the European Union’s role as a “normative power,” the Union’s external representations, and on Israeli-European Union relations more broadly.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Normative Power Europe Meets Israel
Chapter 1: Normative Power Europe in Israeli Eyes
Chapter 2: The Seventh Would-Be Member State of the European Economic Community
Chapter 3: Normative Power Europe and Perceptions as Cultural Filters: Israeli Civic Studies as a Case-Study, with Natalia Chaban
Chapter 4: When a Lioness Roars: The Union’s Guidelines Prohibiting the Allocation of Funds to Israeli Entities in the Occupied Territories
Chapter 5: An Elusive Desire: Israeli Perceptions of NATO
Conclusion: Normative Power Europe as Israel’s Negative “Other”
Sharon Pardo is Jean Monnet chair ad personam in European studies in the Department of Politics and Government at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.
Novak, David. Zionism and Judaism. A New Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015.
Why should anyone be a Zionist, a supporter of a Jewish state in the land of Israel? Why should there be a Jewish state in the land of Israel? This book seeks to provide a philosophical answer to these questions. Although a Zionist need not be Jewish, nonetheless this book argues that Zionism is only a coherent political stance when it is intelligently rooted in Judaism, especially in the classical Jewish doctrine of God’s election of the people of Israel and the commandment to them to settle the land of Israel. The religious Zionism advocated here is contrasted with secular versions of Zionism that take Zionism to be a replacement of Judaism. It is also contrasted with versions of religious Zionism that ascribe messianic significance to the State of Israel, or which see the main task of religious Zionism to be the establishment of an Israeli theocracy.
Table of Contents
1. Why Zionism?
2. Was Spinoza the first Zionist?
3. Secular Zionism: political or cultural?
4. Should Israel be a theocracy?
5. Why the Jews and why the land of Israel?
6. Can the state of Israel be both Jewish and democratic?
7. What could be the status of non-Jews in a Jewish state?
8. What is the connection between the Holocaust and the state of Israel?
DAVID NOVAK holds the J. Richard and Dorothy Shiff Chair in Jewish Studies as Professor of Religion and Philosophy at the University of Toronto. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and of the American Academy for Jewish Research. He is President of the Union for Traditional Judaism, and Vice President of the Institute on Religion and Public Life. Novak also serves as a Consulting Scholar for the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University, and as a Project Scholar for the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs at Georgetown University.
In this Article, I suggest that “religion,” both as it is commonly understood, and as it is understood and applied by courts as a legal term of art, refers chiefly to belief. This understanding of “religion” is incorrectly, if tacitly, assumed to be both neutral and broadly applicable. Building on previous work focusing on British courts, I now turn to investigating how Israeli courts understand the concept of religion. And, as before, I focus on cases addressing the question “who is a Jew?” as a window into how courts understand religion and membership in a religion more generally.
To set the legal issues in context, in Part II, I briefly trace the emergence of the State of Israel. Part II.A discusses the early Zionist movement with particular attention to the philosophy of Theodor Herzl. Part II.B traces the early legal foundations of the State of Israel from the Balfour Declaration through the Proclamation of the State. Part III concerns the legal system created by the State. Part III.A introduces the legal structure of the state of Israel. Part III.B details the function and authority of the courts within that structure. Part III.C addresses the legal status of religion in the state, and Part III.D looks at the Law of Return, a unique feature of Israeli law applicable only to Jews (and certain relations). Part IV concerns the substantive debate on “Who is a Jew” under Israeli civil law. Part IV.A discusses in detail three seminal cases addressing the legal relationship between Judaism and the State-Rufeisen (also known as Brother Daniel), Shalit, and Beresford-along with significant legislation passed in the wake of Shalit. Part IV.B attempts to reconcile these decisions and tease out the factors that the Israeli Supreme Court has considered significant and the assumptions that it has made in adjudicating issues of religious identity.
Part V turns to the historical validity and neutrality of the understanding of “religion” applied by the Israeli Supreme Court. Part V.A offers an overview of the Christian origins of the modern concept of “religion” as primarily a matter of belief. Part V.B reflects on how the Jewish state, through its secularist Supreme Court, could have come to a Christian understanding of religion. Finally, Part VI takes a step back to place the findings in the wider debate on secularization. Part VI.A provides the necessary background on this secularization paradigm, and Part VI.B suggests that these cases may point to a useful refinement. Part VII offers a brief conclusion.
Based on an examination of Israel’s territorial conceptions, strategies, and achievements since the establishment of the state, this article shows how state territoriality subsumes ideology and political agendas and may, under certain circumstances, lead the state to negate its very self-conceptions and harm its own perceived interests. Its analysis pays special attention to the state’s inadvertently produced territories of negation, which run counter to its own conception of territoriality, and considers the kind of social–spatial entities produced by the state. It also considers Israeli territoriality’s more recently asserted goal of shaping Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, in addition to the goals of controlling Jerusalem and Judaizing the Galilee and the Negev. To illustrate the theoretical assertion that discriminatory and marginalizing state territoriality has the distinct potential to bring about its own negation, the article concludes with two prominent expressions of this phenomenon. The first is manifested in green-line Israel, where the state’s territorial policies and the resulting marginalization of the Palestinian minority has resulted in collective resistance against the state and its policies, basic Jewish-Israeli symbols such as the anthem and the flag, and Israel’s very definition as a Jewish State. The second is manifested in Israel’s inadvertent creation of bi-national spaces both within Israel proper and in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, indirectly promoting the solution of a single bi-national state and posing a serious challenge to the very goals that Israeli territoriality has consistently strived to achieve.
Military establishments view religious soldiers with mixed feelings. On the one hand, they can be seen as a fifth column: Will such soldiers follow orders should these orders clash with religious obligations? Aside from considering these soldiers ideologically, militaries must deal with them on a practical level (accommodating—or not—religious commandments, such as wearing clothing conforming to religious requirements, observing dietary laws). They must also consider how relevant religious observance is to the role of being a soldier: Is it conducive? Detrimental? Perhaps it has no impact? These problems become more acute particularly in military systems that have no official religious affiliation but conscript religious soldiers.
There are many ways to deal with these soldiers. Is there a way of predicting which kind of military will utilize what kind of treatment mode toward its religious members? This article suggests a possible theoretical construct regarding what might influence the managing of religious diversity in the ranks. The more removed a military is from society, the more likely it is to utilize internal mechanisms when dealing with religious soldiers. The less removed it is from society, the more likely it will be to turn to external—even civilian—mediating mechanisms in this regard.
Fischer, Shlomo. “The Crises of Liberal Citizenship: Religion and Education in Israel.” In Religious Education and the Challenge of Pluralism (ed. Adam B. Seligman; Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2014): 119-49.
The religious Zionist community is starting to understand the place of civics and citizenship within the new Israeli public discourse, and it wishes to be part of that discourse. It understand, too, that it can make its own unique communitarian or republican contribution to that discourse, but it understands two further things as well: it understands that if it entirely disregards the liberal citizenship discourse of individual human and civil rights, of tolerance and of pluralism, it will lose its ability to communicate with the larger Israeli public. Much to its chagrin, it has all ready experienced such a break in communication during the Disengagement from Gaza in 2005. It discovered then that it had no allies in the Israeli public sphere to help it prevent the evacuation of seventeen settlements in the Gaza strip. It wishes very much to reestablish lines of communication in order to prevent a reoccurrence of that event. Secondly, it understands that it cannot seriously offer a citizenship discourse for the entire community if it offers no modicum of inclusion, of membership, and of tolerance to the non-Jewish minorities of the country. Alongside its communitarian and republican orientation, and alongside its integral nationalist demands that Israel remain a Jewish country, it must find room for the other non-Jews, even the Palestinians. Hence, it seeks from within the Jewish tradition resources of tolerance and inclusion. Only time will tell whether it actually achieves a new synthesis of nationalism and democracy, and of republicanism and inclusiveness.
Prof. Yuval Sinai (Visiting Professor of Law, Yale University)
4pm Thu 14 May, in A113 Samuel Alexander Building.
This talk will explore the way Judaism, as a religion and culture, and its legal tradition – the halakhah – is incorporated into the secular legal system of the state of Israel and, more broadly, the role of Judaism and Jewish values in Israel. The origins of Jewish law are thousands of years in the past, but whereas most other ancient legal systems are no longer relevant today, Jewish law continues to have great vitality and ability to adapt to the given time and place, and as such it is highly relevant even in the solution of contemporary legal problems. This is manifest in the application of Jewish law in the legal system of the modern State of Israel. Israel’s constitutional system is based on two tenets: (1) that the state is Jewish and (2) that the state is democratic. It is this commitment to the creation of a synthesis between particularistic (Jewish) and universalistic (democratic) values that has proved to be the major constitutional challenge faced by Israel since its foundation. Reaching such a synthesis is especially problematic given that approximately 20% of Israel’s citizenry consists of non-Jews, primarily Muslims, Christians, and Druzes. Even within the Jewish population itself, the exact meaning of Israel as a Jewish state has been highly contested. Not only do opinions differ as to whether Jews are citizens of a nation, members of a people, participants in a culture, or co-religionists, but even within the latter there are widely divergent beliefs and degrees of practice. This paper will consider the challenges facing the application of Jewish law in the modern state of Israel while attempting to illuminate deserving legal models that incorporate the Jewish tradition and multicultural society of Israel today.
Professor Yuval Sinai is a Schusterman Visiting Professor of Law at Yale, and Senior Research Scholar of Law at Yale University Law School; Associate Professor of Law, and Director of the Center for the Application of Jewish Law, Netanya College Law School, and teaches Jewish law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Bar Ilan Law Schools (Israel); formerly Visiting Professor at McGill University, Canada (2007-2008). His research interests are Jewish law, comparative law, Law and Religion. He has published two books, namely, The Judge and the Judicial Process In Jewish Law (Hebrew University of Jerusalem Press, 2009) (Heb): Applications of Jewish Law in the Israeli Courts (The Israel Bar-Publishing House, Tel Aviv, 2009) (Heb.), and over 25 articles in these areas.
The conference is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Please email ISCP@yu.eduwith your name, affiliation, and contact information.
Constitutional Conflicts and the Judicial Role in Comparative Perspective
This conference will explore the Israeli Supreme Court’s jurisprudence on complex and challenging questions facing open and multi-cultural societies everywhere. Because these issues are salient in, but by no means peculiar to, Israel, a comparative perspective will enrich our understanding of how such issues are, and might be, dealt with in other democratic societies.
Panels will address the general question of the value and challenges of comparative legal study, differing conceptions of the role of the judiciary and doctrines of justiciability, and substantive areas of current controversy, including the role of the courts in overseeing national security and intelligence gathering; immigration, asylum, and treatment and status of refugees; and religion in the modern nation-state.
The Israeli Supreme Court Project at Cardozo
This conference marks the launch of the Israeli Supreme Court Project at Cardozo Law (ISCP). Intended to both inform and engage constitutional scholars, lawyers, and judges in democracies around the world, the ISCP is a center of study and discussion of the decisions of the Israeli Supreme Court, one of the great judicial bodies of the world and a court at the forefront of dealing with issues at the core of what it means to be a democratic society.
The central undertaking of the ISCP is the translation into English and dissemination of key opinions of the Israeli Supreme Court. In this, the Project is continuing, and will expand on, two decades of work and over 200 translations by the Friends of the Library of the Supreme Court of Israel. Translated opinions, other relevant material about the Court, and more information about the ISCP can all be found on the Project’s website, VERSA, at versa.cardozo.yu.edu.
This conference, as well as the other work of the ISCP, are made possible by essential support from the David Berg Foundation, which is gratefully acknowledged.
2:30-3 p.m. Registration and Coffee3-3:15 p.m. Welcoming Remarks
This panel will consider the value and challenges of comparative legal study. Why should scholars and judges in one country care what their counterparts elsewhere are up to? Is it ever possible for outsiders to understand the details, cultural meanings, and historical underpinnings of a foreign legal system? What are the settings, issues, or circumstances that make for a successful comparative work?
8:30-9 a.m. Registration and Coffee 9-10:30 a.m. The Role of the Judiciary in Comparative Perspective
The Israeli Supreme Court hears over 10,000 cases a year, has a large mandatory docket, for many of its most important cases is the court of first instance rather than a court of appeal, and has only limited threshold “justiciability” doctrines (such as standing requirements or the bar on political questions). In these features it is utterly different from its U.S. counterpart. This panel will consider such structural characteristics, then turn to their broader implications regarding the role of the judiciary in governance and in society, including the question of whether a Supreme Court leads or follows civil society, whether it is an educational institution, and the sources of its legitimacy.
10:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Judicial Oversight of National Security and Intelligence Gathering
Effective national security and intelligence gathering are generally understood to depend on secrecy, dispatch, and subterfuge. These characteristics would seem to leave little room for judicial oversight, which assumes transparency, forthrightness, and deliberate pacing. On the other hand, there is a very real danger of abuse without some sort of oversight and legal restraint. This panel will consider how national security issues differ (if at all) from other issues that come before the courts and what exactly the judicial role should be in overseeing national security agencies.
12:30-1:30 p.m. Lunch (Lunch will be provided for all attendees.)
1:30-3 p.m. Immigration, Asylum, and the Treatment and Status of Refugees
Of the Israeli Supreme Court’s recent decisions, one of the most important, divided, and divisive have concerned the detention of asylum seekers. Issues surrounding immigration and citizenship are hugely important, and hugely contested, in Israel and elsewhere. This panel will examine the ISC’s decisions in this area and consider what lessons can be drawn, positive or negative, for Israel and for the rest of the world.
3:15-4:45 p.m. Religion in the Modern Nation-State
Israel’s Basic Laws designate it as “both Jewish and democratic.” The Supreme Court, and many commentators, have struggled to reconcile these two fundamental commitments. Is it possible to construct a constitutional identity that privileges Jewish culture, history, and religion while remaining essentially democratic? The answer to that question has ramifications for religious liberties in many settings as well as minority rights in general.
As part of its ongoing series on “Jewish Ideals & Current Dilemmas in Contemporary Zionism,” the Tikvah Overseas Seminars hosted two of Israel’s leading rabbinic activists, David Stav and Seth Farber to discuss recent legislation regarding marriage and conversion in Israel.
They have worked together to promote bills that will allow greater numbers of municipal rabbis to register couples for marriage and perform conversions under the auspices of Israel’s Chief Rabbinate. While heralded by some as an opportunity to prevent intermarriage by increasing the number of Israelis recognized as Jews, these initiatives have been criticized by others as further entrenchment of the Chief Rabbinate’s monopoly over marriage and conversion. Their conversation highlights disagreements regarding civil marriage in Israel, conversion standards, and the ability of Jewish law to evolve. More broadly, their positions reflect different approaches toward reducing the tensions between the Jewish and democratic characters of the State of Israel.
The event was recorded on February 6, 2015. It is also available as a podcast via iTunes or Stitcher.