JCall ‘s conference : Questioning the Israeli Democracy

Saturday April 28th, 2018, at the Town Hall of the 4th arrondissement of Paris *, we will hold a Conference entitled “Questioning the Israeli Democracy”. Prior registration is required.
We invite you to register directly on our website.

 

The vitality shown in all times by the Israeli democracy has always inspired a legitimate pride in Israelis and Diaspora Jews. This vitality is reflected in the part played by counter-powers, in press and media freedom, in minorities status (even if it is far from perfect), in the independence of the judiciary, and in the role of the Supreme Court.

In spite of wars, Intifadas and terrorist attacks ongoing since the founding of the State, in spite of fifty years of an endless occupation which confronts the Israeli society to the control of a population aspiring to freedom and independence, the Israeli democracy has always been able to take advantage of its inner workings in order to preserve its basic principles. Of course, that democracy stops at the Green Line between Israel and the occupied territories; it underlines the importance of the Supreme Court, which constitutes a possible remedy for Palestinians and does sometimes agree with them against the State.

However in recent years, an ill wind has been blowing through Israel, undermining the foundations of that democracy: criticisms and challenges of the decisions of the Supreme Court (the power of which the actual coalition intends to reduce), repeated attacks against media and against well-known figures targeted because of their opinions; a law recently passed in order to complicate the NGO’s struggle against the occupation and its impact; the bill of the “nation-state of the Jewish people” the consequence of which would be, if the law were to be adopted, the questioning of the balance existing between the Jewish and democratic components of Israel’s identity. Added to that the State interference in school curricula and cultural agendas, implemented by the ministers of Education and Culture, and repeated attacks againt President Reuven Rivlin who stood up several times and defended the democratic functioning of the State institutions.

Facing this perilous drift it may be rightly argued that Israel remains in that region the only State in which minorities have rights, a State where a former Prime Minister and a President have been unable to escape legal proceedings and have been sentenced to jail.
However, a distressing question remains: Is Israel in danger of evolving toward a new model of democracy, such as the model of the so-called “illiberal” democracies we see progressing in some European countries ? Or will the Israeli society—through the work of its institutions, of its civil society, of its intellectuals, and its politicians, in keeping with the founding values of the State—find the strength and the capacity to support its democratic model ?

This conference intends to come up with some answers to these questions. As Diaspora Jews attached to Israel, we maintain that such threats are worrying and may affect Israel’s future, and our future as well. We commit ourselves to stand with all those who, caught in the cross-fire of extremist and nationalist forces, fight to preserve Israel as a Jewish and democratic State.

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