I started working on this book in the spring of 2000. At that time, the political atmosphere in Israel seemed calm. My biggest concern was about the possible results of an evacuation of Jewish settlements from Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip as part of a possible progress in the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. I was worried that the ideological rift between the different segments of Israeli society would manifest itself again in a violent way and that the events of 1994–95, which led to the assassination of Prime Minister Rabin could repeat themselves. Furthermore, I hoped that this time the Israeli State would use in its response to the growing wave of extremism measures that would not only be effective but would comply with the democratic nature of the State.
During the months in which I was doing the research for this book, two things happened simultaneously. First, the political reality in Israel, and later in other parts of the world, shifted dramatically and the question of how democracies should respond to challenges of extremism and violence became less of a theoretical issue and much more of an acute problem for policy-makers. Second, the more I studied the ‘defending democracy’ concept the better I understood that this term is much broader and more diversified than I first imagined. In light of the issues involved, I sincerely hope that this book will contribute not only to the theoretical understanding of the means by which democracies can respond to extremist and violent challenges and still adhere to democratic principles. I hope that it will also encourage policy-makers to take into consideration the different aspects and possible consequences of their policies and help them choose the ‘immunised’ route. Though this route requires more time and effort than the ‘militant’ one, it holds the potential for finding the ‘golden path’ in the defence of democracy from its challengers as well as from itself.
The completion of this book would not have been possible without the generous support of the Yitzhak Rabin Centre for Israel Studies as well as the Centre for the Study of National Security at the University of Haifa. I would like to thank both institutions for their generosity and for believing in the importance of this study. I owe a big debt of gratitude to three wonderful friends and colleagues. Professor Yael Yishai, my mentor, who not only shared her ‘civil society’ data with me but read large parts of the manuscript and gave me some wonderfully helpful words of advice. I will always cherish her guidance and friendship. Professor Gabi Ben-dor, my teacher and friend, who is always there for me with his endless wisdom. I thank him for doing everything he could to help me at every step of the way. Last, but not least, my dear and beloved friend Professor Avraham Brichta, who spent so many precious hours talking to me, lifting my spirits and supporting my research. Thank you.
I also thank those colleagues who offered me a shoulder to lean on over the last few years, and who helped me put my ideas together: Dr Bruce Hoffman, Dr Magnus Ranstorp, Dr Cas Mudde, Dr Giovanni Capoccia, Dr Raphael Cohen-Almagor and Professor Michael Minkenberg. A special word of gratitude to my friends in the Department of Political Science, at the University of Nevada, Professor Leonard Weinberg and Professor William Eubank, who made me feel at home during my stay in Reno and supported me through the last stages of completing the manuscript. I wish to express my appreciation to my friends at the University of Haifa: Dr Yair Zalmanovitch, Professor Aaron Cohen, Dr Andre Eshet, Ms Daphna Canetti, Mr Badi Hasisi and the dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Professor Arye Rattner. A special word of gratitude to two young friends and promising scholars: Mr Arie Perliger, my current research student, and Mr Eran Zaidise, a friend and former student, whose devotion to this project helped the book become a reality. I also thank Dani Shlossberg and Olga Sagi, who edited the manuscript.
Special gratitude goes to Tony Mason, Richard Delahunty and Marilyn Cresswell at Manchester University Press for the helpful way in which they treated both the manuscript and me.
Finally, a loving word of gratitude to my family. My parents, Ruth and Max Pedahzur, who taught me so much but left me before I could give something in return, and my own family: Galit, Rotem, Shahar and Doron. You are my world. Everything I do is thanks to your endless love and support. I love you.