In conclusion, the articulation of the democratic dilemma in the Israeli judicial and political arena has been revealed to be much more than a theoretical or institutional discussion. During the course of the various debates, which ultimately recognized the need to disqualify political parties, defensive democracy has imposed itself as a new regime of truth delimiting what is legitimate and what is not in the matter of party representation in a democracy. This dominant discourse has not only led to the institutionalization of limits on political participation by legitimizing the passing of the amendments studied above, but has significantly transformed the accepted meaning of democracy, its identity and boundaries. The construction of a narrative according to which democracy would have to defend itself against enemies has conferred a meaning to democracy that largely differs from the original model of democracy, as defined by the Israeli discourse itself. By “defending itself,” the Israeli democracy has been transformed into a regime in which democratic rights have become a conditional attribute of the nation-state, ready to be sacrificed in the name of the latter’s survival and where allegedly suspicious citizens can be excluded from the polity. Under those circumstances, the room for substantial — rather than formal — pluralism has itself become considerably limited.
The article discusses the political and public debates in Israel over the appropriateness of a military radio station in a democratic state. The Israeli station was established in 1950 to assist the defense forces in absorbing and educating new Jewish immigrants, but later developed to become one of Israel’s major media outlets. Previously unstudied documents reveal that the initiative to launch the station was met with criticism from its early stages; concerns about letting the army run a radio station without public oversight have been raised repeatedly ever since. This research project illustrates the benefits of media historiography as an effective prism for studying wider aspects of societies in which various media organizations operate. It adds, as well, to the historiography of military radio stations around the world.
Israel’s long-standing state of emergency has had considerable bearing on the state’s governance. Less known, but equally important, is the fact that Israel’s legal system features several overlapping and incoherent emergency legal mechanisms that exist side by side. This article demonstrates that Israel’s ever-shifting body of emergency law has been used to suit its governing authorities’ political ends. A chief goal has been to create flexibility in the application of law in order to systematically discriminate against Palestinians while maintaining a degree of legitimacy as a government by law. With these various emergency legal mechanisms available, Israel’s governing officials can extend the authorities of discrete emergency regulations by mixing and matching laws or by moving freely from one legal mechanism to the next to serve desired ends. This article argues further that what may have started as a pragmatic solution quickly became programmatic and concerted. Thus, contrary to the conception that Israel’s convoluted emergency jurisprudence is the accidental outcome of trying times, Israel’s complex emergency jurisprudence is in fact a governing tool. This reality compels us to consider new analytical frameworks in which a state of emergency is an enduring condition. To this end, this article draws on the work of colonial law scholars. By analyzing jurisdictional complexity in contexts where emergency is dominant, these studies explain the political motivation for maintaining structured ambiguity.