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
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