This book looks at the theoretical issue of how a democracy can defend itself from those wishing to subvert or destroy it without being required to take measures that would impinge upon the basic principles of the democratic idea. It links social and institutional perspectives to the study, and includes a case study of the Israeli response to Jewish extremism and violence, which tests the theoretical framework outlined in the first chapter. There is an extensive diachronic scrutiny of the state's response to extremist political parties, violent organizations and the infrastructure of extremism and intolerance within Israeli society. The book emphasises the dynamics of the response and the factors that encourage or discourage the shift from less democratic and more democratic models of response.
First, in a country such as Israel, the official authorities have not yet forged a clear-cut policy on the central principles by which its future citizens should be educated. Therefore, there is ample space for intervention by non-state institutions seeking to promote an education in democratic values either by means of school courses or less formal avenues. A no less important role is reserved for civil organisations hoping to bridge the various and gaping social abysses of Israelisociety.
Second, these same non
, e.g. curtailing the freedom of speech of political opponents, the exclusion of ethnic minorities from society and Israeli politics, a call for a strong leadership that can navigate the country as it sees fit and an increase in religious legislation. Comparative research further accentuates the extremist profile of certain sectors of Israelisociety and reveals that adolescent Israeli students tend to score very highly on measures of ethnocentrism and authoritarianism in comparison to students abroad. 31
Quandaries accompanying the efforts to
very far from the liberal democratic vision. A central assumption outlined in the Introduction was that for the ‘defending democracy’ to make the transition from the ‘militant’ to the ‘immunised’ route, it would take more than just a reduction in the intensity of the State’s response to extremism. In order to arrive at the goal of ‘immunisation’, the scope of the response must also be extended and the principal expression of this must be the strengthening and fortifying of the democratic infrastructure of Israelisociety. Until liberal democratic ideas are
The ‘defending democracy’ in Israel – a framework of analysis
non-liberal ‘ethnic democracy’ – provides fertile grounds for the flourishing of ethnocentric, ultra-national and in fact xenophobic manifestations. These circumstances are strikingly apparent in the field of education, which has been deeply affected by the ethnic character of the Israeli democracy and, in my opinion, may still prove to be the principal control for the State’s aspiration to curb extremism in Israelisociety. Both prior to the State’s establishment and in the years following, the Hebrew education system has served as a pawn in the hands of the
alliance of right-wing parties with the Herut at its forefront) was successful in superseding the Labour Party as the party in control of government. During the course of those years, the need for party disqualification did not arise. However, the profound changes that Israelisociety went through prepared the ground for political extremism. In the long run, this led the country into confrontation with a racist and anti-democratic party that declared its intentions to essentially change the State’s character by abolishing democracy, deporting its Arab citizens and
definition of a Jew.
As Gershon Shafir and Yoav Peled argue, this law ‘became the most important legal
expression of Israel’s self-definition as a Jewish state. It established ethno-nationalist
citizenship that, in principle, encompassed all Jews, and only Jews, by virtue of their
ethnic descent’.106 This discourse of citizenship was fused with interpretations of the
Zionist ideology –itself contested as to its vision of the state and the construction of
society –and as a consequence, privileged Orthodox Jews as the ‘true keepers’ of the
faith within Israelisociety
Attitudes towards subversive movements and violent organisations
sedition as defined in the Penal Code was intended to promote the heterogeneous existence of an Israelisociety comprised of a diverse populace. In addition, the legal formulation of the sedition offence was very restrained; that is, in order to convict a person of acts of sedition, it must be proven that there is a ‘considerable’ degree of sedition and that there is a high probability of the commission of violent acts subsequent to the defendant’s proclamation. 64
At this stage, in order to avoid unduly simplified conclusions, we are compelled to
the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, available at www.
ochaopt.org/theme/west-bank-barrier (accessed 10.04.16).
72 ‘The Separation Barrier’ (B’Tselem, 11.11.17), available at www.btselem.org/
separation_barrier (accessed 12.11.17).
73 See, among others, Oren Yiftachel, ‘IsraeliSociety and Jewish-Palestinian
Reconciliation: “Ethnocracy” and Its Territorial Contraditions’, Middle East Journal,
51:4 (1997), 505–19; and Oren Iftachel, ‘Neither Two States Nor One’, Arab World
Geographer, 8:3 (2005), 125–9.
74 See Yehudit Kirstein Keshet, Checkpoint
. In the summer
of 2011 outrage at the rising cost of living resulted in protests, demonstrating the move
from a quietist social welfare Zionism of the formative stages of the state to the more
hawkish but economically liberal interpretations of Zionism. In response, a tent was
pitched in Habima Square on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv, triggering a mass
protest. Facebook once again proved a platform to spread ideas, helping to develop
a tent city that straddled differences across Israelisociety as people were ultimately
united in search of social justice. In