Haklai, Oded, and Liora Norwich. “Bound by Tradition: The Exclusion of Minority Ethnonational Parties from Coalition Governments—A Comparison of Israel and Canada.” Ethnopolitics (early view; online first).
Attempts to build a coalition government whose survival depends on support from ethnic minority parties have resulted in both Canada and Israel in widespread public disapproval and political turmoil. In turn, such arrangements have been deemed untenable even though otherwise powerful political elites had an interest in minority party inclusion. The comparable outcomes in these two cases are intriguing because the two parliamentary democracies differ in general characteristics that much of the scholarship claims should produce different outcomes, including the electoral system, conceptions of national identity, and regional environment. Using the most different systems method, with a similar value on the study variable but with dissimilar background conditions, we argue that inherited political traditions in both countries engendered widespread perceptions that minority party inclusion diverged from the ‘appropriate way of doing politics’ and was thus unacceptable.
This articles examines majoritarianism, democracy and the status of minorities in Israel and India comparatively, using the concept of ethnocracy as an analytical frame. It argues that whereas the overt racialisation of ethnicity in Israel has produced an intractable problem, solutions may be found in India through the creative deployment of the history of modern Hindu identity, and even through the Israeli notion of binationality.
Navot, Suzie. The Constitution of Israel: A Contextual Analysis. Oxford: Hart, 2014.
This book presents the main features of the Israeli constitutional system and a topical discussion of Israel’s basic laws. It focuses on constitutional history and the peculiar decision to frame a constitution ‘by stages’. Following its British heritage and the lack of a formal constitution, Israel’s democracy grew for more than four decades on the principle of parliamentary supremacy. Introducing a constitutional model and the concept of judicial review of laws, the ‘constitutional revolution’ of the 1990s started a new era in Israel’s constitutional history. The book’s main themes include: constitutional principles; the legislature and the electoral system; the executive; the protection of fundamental rights and the crucial role of the Supreme Court in Israel’s constitutional discourse. It further presents Israel’s unique aspects as a Jewish and democratic state, and its ongoing search for the right balance between human rights and national security. Finally, the book offers a critical discussion of the development of Israel’s constitution and local projects aimed at enacting a single and comprehensive text.
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.
The concept of assimilation in Israel, and its discursive attachment to intermarriage, is haunted by its origins in a historical context pre-dating the Israeli state, in which many Jews could hardly imagine a society in which they represented the majority culture. Israeli Jews are still inundated with collective memories of being a persecuted minority, most prominently during the Holocaust. Eli Ben Dahan, the deputy minister of Religious Affairs, explained his reference to the Malka-Mansour wedding as part of the “silent Holocaust” by claiming that Israel is the only country in the world in which “ha-peruzah ha-yehudit” (the Jewish diaspora) is increasing rather than decreasing, because in Israel there are no mixed (read: civil) marriages. Echoing the assumptions of early Zionist intellectuals such as Ruppin and Zollschan, Ben Dahan prophesied, “if we allow mixed marriages [here], we would cause the Jewish people to become diminished in Israel as well.”
But the “diaspora” logic favoring the religious marriage system is clearly counterproductive for the preservation of the Jewish people if one considers op-ed headlines like “Israel Forced Morel to Convert to Islam.” Kamir, author of this op-ed, rebukes her fellow Israelis: “The conversion of Morel to Islam is a reminder to all that have not understood: the connection between religion and state in Israel… is the same thing that pushes Jews to renounce their Jewish identity.” In terms of the Zionist ethno-religious nationalism that underpins the social infrastructure of the Israeli state, Malka and Mansour “are not two citizens permitted to enter a marriage agreement, but [like] a bird and a fish—two species that do not intermingle.” In order to marry, Malka was thus compelled to change her identity and join her husband’s religious community. The solution, Kamir suggests, is “a little more freedom and trust in humanity, and a little less existential Holocaust anxiety,” which would allow Israeli Jews of both sexes to make decisions according to their individual conscience.
Put more bluntly, the Israeli state’s embrace of halakha to adjudicate both an individual’s “authentic” Jewish status with regard to their eligible marriage partners is, in actuality, the force that “diminishes the Jewish people” within Israel. Despite the fearmongering and racialized discourses of assimilation and intermarriage that demonize attempts to introduce civil marriage in Israel, the absence of civil marriage primarily inhibits the integration of self-identified Jews who do not satisfy the Chief Rabbinate’s definition of Jewish identity. Ultimately, Israeli discourse against intermarriage is marshaled to defend and promote the interests of small constituencies of practicing Orthodox and right-wing ethnic nationalists, whose political influence is already completely out of proportion to their representation in the Israeli population. But its effects are more far-reaching and damaging than its immediate political implications because its claims offer such a narrow reading of what it means to be authentically Jewish. As a result, Israeli citizens are compelled to interpret their Jewish identity in terms of whether they are descendants of a “truly” Jewish matriline. Jewish women additionally carry the burden of sacrificing not only their own, but also their children’s, legal Jewish identity if they choose to marry a non-Jew, thus engaging in “assimilation,” regardless of their individual relationships to Judaism and Jewishness. Zionism’s call for a Jewish nation-state, which in turn requires discrete definitions of Jewishness to implement and enforce a national legal system, has therefore precluded the possibility and acceptance of more diverse conceptualizations of authentically Jewish marriages and lives.
Viewing religious conversion through the lens of exchange rather than change calls attention to the web of interactions, practices, and discourses that constitute conversion as a relational domain. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork that straddles the institutionalized interface of state-run Jewish conversion in Israel, I show how the conversion process constitutes a reciprocal transaction by which each party to the exchange—the state and its subjects—provides the other with national recognition while also receiving and thus validating its own national identity. I trace the historical and political circumstances that have entangled the Jewish state and a significant cohort of Jewish converts within this reciprocal relationship. In doing so, I identify the biopolitical, moral, and bureaucratic frameworks that bear on this institutional transaction.
Because religion has been a constant source of social divisions and political conflicts, the role of Judaism in Israel is very often studied through the prism of a rigid religious–secular cleavage.Without denying the contentious character of religion in the political and social arenas, I suggest in this study that a closer look at the usages of religion in Israeli politics offers a more nuanced picture of the role of Judaism in Israel. In order to uphold this thesis, I identify the main usages of Judaism in the Israeli Parliament (the Knesset) and scrutinise the extent to which these different mobilisations overlap or crosscut the secular–religious cleavage. This analysis leads to a typology of three usages of religion: religion as a source of authority, religion as a marker of identity and nation, and religion as a source of values. On this basis, I demonstrate that the role of religion in Israel and especially in the Israeli Parliament cannot be reduced to the divide between religious and secular groups. If in its first usage, the religious–secular cleavage indeed predominates, the use of religion as an identity marker does not necessarily lead to a conflict with secular members, while in its final form, religion is mobilised as a resource by members of both groups.
This all day conference examines the separation of state and religion in Israel, looks into the treatment and the internal structure of non-Jews in the Jewish state, and asks about Jewish religious pluralism and Orthodox dominance. Leading experts from Israel, Europe, and the United States will speak on these questions, drawing upon their own scholarship, teaching, and variant experiences at several different institutions. A complete conference program is available here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1lc_F_g00uhs58ZayyBfJudXkF2rhiWUVoLuanaIa7Mg/edit?usp=sharing Location: SIS Building Abramson Family Founders Room. Pre-paid parking is available in the School for International Service garage and Katzen Arts Center garage (campus map here).
“Israel at the Crossroads of Democracy, Nationalism and Religion”- Free lecture at American University
Monday, October 13, 7:00 PM “German Restitutions to Israel: Transitional Justice and Public Debate” lecture by Professor Norbert Frei (University of Jena, Germany) with response by AU Professor Richard Breitman. Co-sponsored by American University Center for Israel Studies, Jewish Studies Program and Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Location: American University’s Mary Graydon Center Room 5. RSVP: http://www.american.edu/cas/israelstudies/rsvp Tuesday, October 28, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM “How Jewish Is the Jewish State? Religion and Society in Israel” academic conference with 15 international scholars. Co-sponsored by AU Center for Israel Studies and Jewish Studies Program. Location: SIS Building Abramson Family Founders Room. Click here for program. RSVP: http://www.american.edu/cas/israelstudies/rsvp
In the summer of 2011, a number of soldiers walked out of an auditorium in which a musical performance was taking place. The men, cadets in an officer’s course, explained that they walked out of the performance because there were female vocalists, and the halacha prohibits men from listening to females sing.
As a result of this incident, representatives of the army chief rabbinate as well as the Matka’l, or Israeli General Staff, convened to discuss and ultimately publish new guidelines addressing the participation of religious soldiers in military ceremonies featuring female vocalists. These new guidelines were in turn criticized by a group of army chaplains united under the name “Keren Lahav—for the strengthening of Judaism in the IDF.” The group published a joint document in which they stated that the army’s decisions had undermined the trust of religious soldiers in the system. They claimed that the new guidelines—which were approved by the IDF’s Chief Rabbi Rafi Peretz—demonstrated Peretz’s ignorance of the inner workings of the army system. One criticism against Rabbi Peretz was that he had not risen to his position from within the military but rather was an outside candidate placed directly at the top of the pyramid.
“How Jewish is the Jewish State? Religion and Society in Israel”
October 28, 2014
American University, Washington, DC
Scholars are invited to attend “How Jewish is the Jewish State? Religion and Society in Israel,” a day-long academic conference on October 28, 2014 at American University in Washington, DC. The conference is sponsored by American University’s Center for Israel Studies and Jewish Studies Program. A limited number of travel subsidies are available for junior faculty and advanced graduate students. Applications for travel subsidies are due September 15, 2014. Notification will be made by October 1, 2014.
This conference examines the separation of state and religion in Israel, looks into the treatment and the internal structure of non-Jews in the Jewish state, and asks about Jewish religious pluralism and Orthodox dominance. Leading experts from Israel, Europe, and the United States will speak on these questions, drawing upon their own scholarship, teaching, and variant experiences at several different institutions.
Michael Brenner, Seymour and Lillian Abensohn Chair in Israel Studies, American University and Chair of Jewish History and Culture, Ludwig-Maximilian University, Munich
Pamela Nadell, Patrick Clendenen Chair in Women’s and Gender Studies, American University
Location: The conference will take place at American University in the School of International Service Abramson Family Founder’s Room. The address of the university is 4400 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC.
8:00-9:00 AM Registration, Networking, and Coffee/Continental Breakfast
9:00-10:30 AM Separation between State and Religion
Yedidia Stern ( Bar Ilan University/Israel Democracy Institute) New Frontiers in the Struggle Between Religion and State
Eli Salzberger (Haifa University): Religion and State: Law in the Books versus Law in Action
Kimmy Caplan (Bar Ilan University): Orthodox Monopolies: A Trojan Horse?
Chair: Pamela Nadell, Patrick Clendenen Chair in Women’s and Gender Studies, American University (AU)
10:30 AM Coffee Break
11:00-1:00 PM Non-Jews in the Jewish State
Ahmad Natour (Hebrew University, Jerusalem): Islam and Muslims in the State of the Jews
Amal el-Sana Alh’jooj (McGill University, Montreal): Between Sharia Law, Israeli Law and Traditions: The Case of Bedouin Women in Israel
Ya’akov Ariel (University of North Carolina): Evangelical Christians in Israel
Nurit Novis Deutsch (Hebrew University, Jerusalem): Attitudes among Religious Jews in Israel Towards Non-Jews
Moderator: Calvin Goldscheider, Scholar in Residence (AU)
1:00-2:30 PM Lunch
2:30-4:30 PM Jewish Pluralism
Michael A. Meyer (Hebrew Union College Cincinnati): Progressive Judaism, Israeli Style
Fania Oz-Salzberger (Haifa University): Secular Israel: Where from and where to?
Sara Hirschhorn (Oxford University): Religion among American Settlers
Gershon Greenberg (AU): Haredi Attitudes Towards Israeli Statehood
Chair: Michael Brenner, Seymour and Lillian Abensohn Chair in Israel Studies, American University and Chair of Jewish History and Culture, Ludwig-Maximilian University, Munich
4:30-5:30 PM Reception
7:30 PM Keynote: “Israel at the Crossroads of Democracy, Nationalism and Religion” Moshe Halbertal (Hebrew University, Jerusalem)
This conference is generously supported by the Knapp Family Foundation.
A limited number of travel subsidies are available for junior faculty and advanced graduate students to attend the conference.Click here for details.
The State of Israel seems to be caught in a protracted conflict – not only with the Palestinians, but also between secular and religious variants of national identity. Moreover, both conflicts intersect: While the secular population is held to be the liberal, peaceful part of Israeli society which is ready for a compromise with the Palestinians, the religious nationalists are identified with hawkish policies and the settlement project in the occupied Palestinian territories. This common perception reflects the secularist assumption that religion and politics can be analytically distinguished and should be factually separated for the sake of democracy, pluralism and peace. Yet such an approach neglects the dense interrelations and overlaps between religious and secular nationalism throughout the history of the Jewish state. A different analytical perspective which treats these seemingly opposing conceptions of national identity as closely intertwined reveals how they have concurred in promoting and legitimizing the overriding raison d’état of the Jewish state as well as the occupation and settlement of the Palestinian territories.
Enav, Yarden. Israeliness in No Man’s Land. Citizenship in the West Bank of Israel/Palestine. European University Studies. Series 19: Anthropology / Ethnology. Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, and New York: Peter Lang, 2014.
This book is the result of ethnographic research carried out in the Academic College of Judea & Samaria (ACJS), located in the West Bank of Israel/Palestine. The book deals with Israeli citizenship and identity, and examines the ways in which it is being understood and imagined by ACJS students and teachers. The book also analyzes the Orange Zionist organizational culture of the ACJS. In the end, a new socio-political model of Israel/Palestine is offered: Israel as a Zionist Democracy.
Yarden Enav earned his PhD in Social Anthropology at the University of Edinburgh(United Kingdom). Today he teaches in the department of Sociology & Anthropology at Ariel University (Israel) and the Open University of Israel.
This article evaluates Israeli national identity and its core founding tenets of Zionism, democracy, and Judaism. For decades, demographic changes and associated cultural and ideological fluctuations have gradually pushed Israel into a national identity conflict, as multiple ethnic and sectarian identity groups have come to promote competing interpretations of the state’s purpose, political nature, and connection to territory. Continued demographic shifts, situated amid the sociopolitical dynamics of what this article will define as Israel’s “democratic tribalism,” will further test the compatibility of the constituent parts of Israeli national identity: the respective roles of Zionist ideology, democratic institutions, and the territory of the historic Jewish homeland.
This article portrays the theocratization of the Israeli military. At the center of this process stands the national-religious sector, which has significantly upgraded its presence in the ranks since the late 1970s. It is argued that four integrated and cumulative processes gradually generated this shift toward the theocratization of the Israeli military: (1) the crafting of institutional arrangements that enable the service of religious soldiers, thereby (2) creating a critical mass of religious soldiers in many combat units, consequently (3) restricting the military command’s intraorganizational autonomy vis-à-vis the religious sector, and paving the road to (4) restricting the Israel Defense Forces autonomy in deploying forces in politically disputable missions.