In recent years, the Breaking the Silence organization has released a series of publications that expose a database of IDF soldier testimonies from their service in Judea and Samara, as well as the various Gaza operations. Based on these testimonies, Breaking the Silence has concluded that the IDF is in a moral and ethical decline. This decline, they explain, is the direct result of the continuous existence of the “occupation” policy.
In light of the organization’s statements about a systematic moral deterioration of the military system, we have conducted research in which we have carefully examined 100 of the total testimonies presented by BTS – according to select criteria: incident time and location, military layout, described damage type, context, etc., in order to deeply examine BTS’ testimonies and the validity of their conclusions.
The research suggests that there is no correlation between BTS’ claims and the conclusions suggested by their presented testimonies. Our research indicates several fundamental problems that impair the validity of BTS’ conclusions regarding the IDF’s warfare practices and its routine conduct with civilians
Total Fertility Trends in Israel:Total Fertility Trends in Israel: How did the Demographic Time Bomb become a Demographic Miracle? Summary Researchers and policy makers periodically air the claim that the Arab population between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean is growing at a rate double to that of the Jewish population, a fact that will, in the near future, lead to the negation of the Jewish majority. This concern, known as the “demographic time bomb”, stands at the heart of a dispute among different demographists and arouses an intense argument in Israeli academic and public discourse. The objective of this paper is to construct an accurate picture of the demographic reality in Israel and to assess the true dimensions of the demographic threat.As is well known, two mechanisms determine the size of a population: life expectancy at different ages and the rate of fertility. In this paper, we examined the trend of the total fertility rate among population groups living in Israel according to nationality, religion and different settlement regions over a range of periods. Furthermore, we compared this trend with the development of the total worldwide fertility rate and of the populations of different countries in the Middle East. An analysis of the data gathered revealed both trends of growth among the Jewish and Arab populations during the last 60 years and expectations for the future. A summary of the main findings is presented below:
• At the beginning of the 21st century, a turnaround was registered in the fertility level of the Jewish population: Total Jewish fertility had previously declined for 45 years, from the beginning of the 1960s until the end of the century. Until 1995, the total fertility rate among Jews in Israel was the lowest of all Middle Eastern countries and significantly lower than the total fertility rate among the Arab population living in Israel. However, the total Jewish fertility rate began to rise rapidly from 2001, reaching 3.16 children per woman in 2016. This figure was higher than the total fertility rate in 10 of the 15 Middle Eastern countries surveyed and higher than the total fertility rate of the Arab population in Israel, Judea and Samaria, and Gaza. In only 4 countries in the Middle East – Iraq (4.06), Yemen (3.77), Egypt (3.30), Jordan (3.18) and in the Gaza Strip (3.91 or 4.30 depending on the estimation of the US Census Bureau) – was the total Arab fertility rate higher than that of the Jews in Israel. Read More
This study examines the phenomenon of multiple kashrut certifications in the local food products market. The study aims to assess the extent of this phenomenon and to draw conclusions from the findings as to the relevance of Chief Rabbinate kashrut certification for the food manufacturers. The study’s findings clearly indicate the Israeli food manufacturers’ ready willingness to acquire private kashrut certifications in addition to that of the Chief Rabbinate mandated by law, this despite the high extra costs involved. The study also found that in many cases, the Chief Rabbinate’s function in this field was deemed ineffective or one that lacked any added value from a kashrut perspective.
Is a law which stipulates that immunizations are a prerequisite for receiving child benefit payments acceptable in a democratic society? This question has been the subject of an argument about Israeli immunization policy in recent years.
The main opposition to the law comes from Adalah – the Arab-Israeli human rights organization – which appealed to the High Court of Justice against the law. According to Adalah, the law discriminates against the Bedouin and other Arab communities who do not vaccinate themselves due to lack of access to medical services. Moreover, there are those who claim that the law limits parents’ autonomy to decide what is best for their children and to object to vaccinations on religious or ideological grounds.
The study investigated these claims in depth and examined whether the Israeli policy is consistent with the principles of a democratic society. The study presents, among others, a historical survey of the development of immunizations and related laws, the different motives for objecting to immunizations, and a comparison between the Israeli immunization policy and that of 23 countries included in the OECD. Among the countries surveyed are the US, Australia, Germany, Turkey, Sweden, and many others. Read More
In order to attempt and resolve the issue, we have chosen to study the state of affairs in countries possessing characteristics and regimes similar to those of Israel i.e., democratic nation states. Accordingly, the study presented below examined limitations imposed on political parties and on members of parliament in twelve democratic states, members of the OECD. The study surveyed the existence and actual implementation of legal preventative measures that restrict the foundation or registration of political parties seeking to participate in elections, and also retroactive steps including disassembly or disqualification of a party after its foundation, and suspension or expulsion of a serving member of parliament.
This publication constitutes a complementary study to two relevant studies on the subject published by the Knesset Research and Information Center (hereinafter: RIC) that were conducted in 2006 and 2016 and that, among others, is based on their findings. Read More
This position paper presents the proposed law that seeks a legally mandated solution for the problem of aginut (the situation whereby a spouse is ‘chained’ to a marriage) resulting from the husband’s refusal to grant his wife a get (a halakhic divorce), or from her refusal to accept a get. A get ends the marriage. The proposed law is based on a mechanism that was suggested in the Babylonian Talmud to enable the Beit Din (Rabbinic Court), in severe circumstances, to annul the validity of the betrothal that the couple had originally mutually entered. This mechanism is termed hafka’at kiddushin (retroactive annulment of the betrothal).
As explained in the paper, the authority for such retroactive annulment is given not only to the Beit Din but also to the ‘kahal’ – the community. In other words, the community in which the couple lived, also has the authority to decide on implementation of the retroactive annulment of a betrothal in those cases in which the members of the community see fit. In contemporary circumstances, the ability to make such decisions “in the name of the community” can be understood to reside with our elected representatives i.e., the members of the Knesset. The central recommendation of Professor Berachyahu Lifshitz, the author of this paper, is that the harsh reality of aginut created by recalcitrant husbands, should lead the Knesset to legislate the use of hafka’at kiddushin as a means of solving the problem, thereby saving women from this tragic plight. Berachyahu Lifshitz is a professor of law, senior research fellow at the Institute for Zionist Strategies, the former dean of the Faculty of Law at the Hebrew University, an expert in Jewish Law and laureate of the EMET Prize awarded under the auspices of the Prime Minister of Israel.
This study, conducted in conjunction with the ‘National Vision’ movement, surveys a large number of democratic nation-states and shows the connection between their national anthem, flag and emblem, and the nationality of their founding community. The study proves that the attempts to present Israel as an apartheid state, are wholly unfounded.
We thank the team that conducted the study: Noa Lazimi (you can listen to Noa’s interview with Michael Miro here – [Hebrew]), Almog Turgeman, Omer Arica and Adi Arbel. An article about the study can be read here (Hebrew).
Written by: Almog Turgeman, Editor: Noa Lazimi and Adi Arbel, Research Assistance: Omer Aricha
One of the common claims raised against the State of Israel, in various contexts, is that its national symbols – the flag, emblem and anthem – possess a discriminatory nature vis-à-vis the minorities living in Israel and specifically, the Arab minority. The particularly Jewish characteristics present in the national anthem, flag and official emblem arouse the objection of certain sectors of the Israeli and of organizations such as ‘Adalah’ (The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel) that present themselves as concerned and striving for minority rights in Israel. The ‘Adalah’ organization surpassed itself and even defined the “Flag and Emblem Law”, adopted by the Knesset in 1949 and expanded in 2004 to include the national anthem, as discriminatory.
In an attempt to resolve this issue, we decided to conduct a study comparing the situation in Israel to that in countries with similar regimes and characteristics – nation states that advocate the principles of democracy. To that end, the study referred to below examined the use of national emblems in 32 democratic developed countries, members of the OECD, similar to Israel. The comparison was made with regards to the national flags, anthems and emblems of these countries.
The findings reveal an unequivocal picture: The overwhelming majority of the countries examined make use of national emblems that express the religious, ethnic or national heritage of its founders.
Some of the main findings are summarized below:
- 30 of 32 countries are not homogeneous with regards to religion i.e. the dominant religious group does not comprise more than 90% of the population. Only 13% of the countries examined are ethnically homogeneous.
- In 28 of 32 countries, the national anthem includes words that bear a religious, national or ethnic nature.
- In 26 of 32 countries, the national emblem contains a religious or national affinity. In 11 cases, the emblem contains a cross or a crescent.
- In 25 of the 32 countries, the national flag includes religious elements affiliated with the founder’s nationality, religion or historical homeland. In 11 cases, the flag contains a cross or a crescent.
These findings clearly prove that the State of Israel is not exceptional in its selection of national symbols. In practice, Israel’s use of symbols drawn from Jewish history and heritage constitutes an expression of a long-standing universal tradition devoid of any basis for the claim of discrimination or exclusion of the minorities living in Israel.
Written by Yair Berlin, Eitan Yarden, Aviad Houminer and Ariel Finkelstain
The idea of fixing another official day of rest in the State of Israeli has come up on numerous occasions in the course of public debate, as well as in the Knesset, since the year 2000. Traditionally speaking, those advocating an additional official day of rest for the Israeli economy propose Sunday. The most serious proposal to be submitted thus far suggested that most of Sunday’s work hours be made up on Friday, which would, in turn, become a part-time work day, while the remaining hours would be made up by adding half an hour to each work day, Monday through Thursday. Those in favor of the move made the following claims: Such a move would strengthen the Israeli economy by making it compatible with Western economies around the world in terms of rest and work days; it would also strengthen the various fields of culture, sports and tourism and render numerous solutions – aimed at settling the religious status of the Sabbath – feasible. Read More