Latest Articles & Research

Israeli Hamshoosh

By Religion and State, Shabbath No Comments

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

Official Days of Rest Around the World

By Religion and State, Shabbath No Comments

Written by Ariel Finkelstien and Tomer Yahud

This study examines the laws of commerce and employment on the official day of rest in most of the developed countries around the world :

1. Rest Days: In the overwhelming majority of developed countries, most of the citizens work Monday-Friday while Saturday and Sunday serve as rest days. In general however, countries do not set Saturday as an official day of rest, and only some countries declare Sunday as a rest day.

2. The Scope of Restrictions: While most Western European countries have various restrictions on commercial activity on the rest day, in the majority of countries in North America, Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, East Asia and Oceania there are no such significant restrictions. Read More

Adalah vs. the State of Israel

By Fighting Anti-Israel Activity No Comments

Written by Lilach Danzig. Edited by Adi Arbel

Since its inception in July 2005, the BDS movement has sought to promote boycotts, divestment and sanctions against the State of Israel with the objective of delegitimizing its existence as a Jewish state. A significant part of the BDS movement’s strategy is the transformation of Israel into an international pariah nation by means of its portrayal as an apartheid state deliberately and institutionally discriminating against its Arab citizens.

Perversely, one of the bodies contributing to this propaganda is actually an Israeli organization, ‘Adalah – the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel’.  Adalah is persistent in claiming that the State of Israel promotes a discriminatory policy against its Arab citizens.

This report surveys in detail the list of laws published on the Adalah website as discriminatory, and examines the validity of the organization’s claims regarding the existence of discrimination against Israeli Arab citizens. The report’s findings reveal that Adalah elects to adopt a strategy of distorting reality with deliberately biased presentations in order to defame Israel as guilty of enforcing dozens of discriminatory laws. Read More

17th Knesset Zionist Legislasion Scale

By Constitution, Nation State No Comments

Zionist Legislation

As the 17th Knesset draws to an end, the Institute of Zionist Strategies is proud to publish the Zionist Legislation Scale, in which gold, silver and bronze medals were awarded to Members of Knesset who excelled in Zionist legislation activism.

What is the Zionist Legislation Scale?

The Zionist Legislation Scale Report is being published for the first time by the Institute of Zionist Strategies in preparation for the upcoming elections. The report summarizes the Zionist legislation passed during the term of the 17th Knesset, from Nissan 5766 (March 2006) to Shvat 5769 (February 2009).  The report only contains laws and amendments that passed the entire legislation process.  This report praises the Zionist activism of MKs who excelled in passing these laws.

What is Zionist Legislation?

Zionism, in this day in age, is a concept that is open to broad interpretation.  The definition of Zionism can be quite vague and minimalist (for example, establishing a State for the Jewish nation), or alternatively, very comprehensive (for instance, creating a perfect society that will set an example for the world).

We, at the Institute for Zionist Strategies, believe that Zionist activity should be understood as the strengthening the State of Israel as a National Home for the Jewish Nation, by means of intensifying its Jewish identity. Read More

Bedouin Encroachment In the Negev

By National Public Lands No Comments

The Judge Goldberg Report from a Practical Point of View

By: Gilad Altman and Adi Arbel

 

Introduction:

During the fourteen years between 1990 and 2004, Gilad Altman served as the director of the “Sayeret HaYeruka” and played an active role in the issue discussed in the Committee Report.  From the experience he obtained, and from the knowledge amassed during his meetings with experts as part of the Lands Committee of the Institute for Zionist Strategies, the writers of this article seek to shed light on the central strong and weak points of the report in light of an analysis of the issue of Bedouin Settlement Land Arrangements in the Negev.  The writers additionally present practical suggestions for reaching a suitable, comprehensive, real and quick solution to the concern at hand.

 

In December 2007, Judge Goldberg was appointed to chair the Public Committee for the Proposal of Bedouin Settlement Arrangement Policy for the Negev.  A year later, in December 2008, the committee submitted its proposals to the Minister of Housing.

The committee’s mandate, as determined by the government resolution was as follows: “The committee is to submit its proposal for the creation of a comprehensive, extensive and implementable plan that is to set the rules for an arrangement for the Bedouin settlement in the Negev that is to include levels of compensation, arrangements for the allotment of alternative lands, civil enforcement and a timetable for the implementation of arrangements, including proposals for legislation, as required“.

 

The Bedouin issue is a complex issue comprised of a number of challenges.  Only serious confrontation and a proper response to these challenges will allow us to reach a comprehensive arrangement for the issue.  Ignoring any one of the many obstacles will eventually ruin the chances of reaching an arrangement.  Among the many challenges that must be overcome to resolve the Bedouin issue are: their claims of possession over the land, the lack of enforcement of building and planning laws, the lack of foundations, a low level of economic development, sparse settlement in a western state, polygamy and an accelerated birthrate.

In its report, the Committee was required to present a comprehensive solution for the arrangement of the issue of Bedouins in the Negev, though this particular solution proved to be no more than another link on the chain of failed past solutions.  The committee report was not able to reach enough conclusions in order to reach an implementable solution.  Its recommendations constitute a continuation of the current practice of turning a blind eye to many of the existing problems.  The current committee, perhaps because of those who constitute it, and perhaps because of other reasons, produced a report that only partially responds to the challenges listed above, and thus the committee did not fulfill the mandate assigned to it.  Moreover, another chance was missed to for a comprehensive solution to the Bedouin issue.

 

In the words of the Committee: “We will not list all of the past committees that proposed solutions for the Bedouin settlements in the Negev.  The multiplicity of committees did not bring about a real change in the matter for which they were created, they did not leave any indications of their actions, nor were any substantial changes made as a result of their actions…”.

In the political culture of the State of Israel, the temptation to bury the Committee report is strong.  The easiest solution, both for the executive authority and for the report’s critics is to present, using real and justified claims, the conclusions of the Committee as partial and/or erroneous, and thus to reject the report in its entirety.  In this article, it will be explained why and how the State of Israel must adopt the report as part of the solution to the Bedouin issue.

 

The State of Israel must not continue burying its head in the sand.  In the Bedouin issue and in the defending of State lands, the clock is ticking both for the Bedouins and for the State of Israel.  A population growth rate of 5.5 percent per year, which doubles the Bedouin population every thirteen years, exacerbates the situation plaguing Bedouins today and will bring about not only future generations of Bedouins growing up in poverty and misery, but also will cause the Jewish majority to lose its grip on the Negev.  Rejecting the report, like the lack of implementation of previous proposals for an arrangement, will only postpone the arrangement for a few years, meanwhile allowing the problems to rapidly intensify.

Moreover, the report presents a number of important core principles that are suitable to be included in a future solution, and laying these ideas aside will in effect also lay aside several worthwhile parts of the report.  Additionally, one of the report’s greatest shortcomings can also be seen as a great advantage: When the committee ignored a number of basic issues in its proposals, it essentially passed the responsibility on to the executive authority.  This is a golden opportunity for the implementation committee appointed to “submit to the government a detailed and applicable draft for the arrangement of Bedouin settlements in the Negev“.  Provided that the staff does its work faithfully, it will be possible to reach a suitable and comprehensive solution that will appropriately deal with each of the many challenges that comprise the issue.

The mandate taken on by the staff appears limited: “The staff’s primary responsibility will be the committee report, in which it will be required, among other things, to make recommendations to settle reservations arising among committee members“, but in practice, this is actually a very broad assignment.  One who reads the report in depth will see that the writers of the report, at times explicitly and at times inferred, left the task of implementation to the executive authority. Furthermore, many of the reservations brought up by the committee members, both from Bedouin and government representatives were fundamental and allowed the implementation staff great maneuvering ability.

 

In order to enable discussion regarding a suitable solution, there needs to be consensus on the starting points of the discussion:

  1. There must be recognition of the fact that the responsibility for past processes, the current situation, and a future arrangement lies upon the government.
  2. It must be understood that the current situation, as well as the future situation, provided that the handling of the issue remains unchanged, prove detrimental both to the Jewish population and the Bedouin population.
  3. The decision makers must take on the task of implementing an arrangement at all costs, despite the fact that a considerable number of government resolutions are never implemented, out of understanding that postponing an arrangement will cause Israel to lose the Negev and transform it into a land that is free of the law.
  4. The appropriate solution must be substantially different from all proposed past failed solutions.Additionally, because the plan is to be carried out over a number of years, it is crucial that it is widely accepted by the government and supported by various parties and sectors, so that it may be continued to be carried out for as long as necessary, regardless of changes in the government.

In order to reach a comprehensive and suitable plan solution that will be able to be implemented, the implementation committee must carefully examine the deficiencies of the document, reflected by ignoring of key issues, in order to hasten the consent of the committee.  There are least six examples of this:

 

  1. The Settlements – Clause 56 attributes the failure in establishing new settlements to the lack of attractiveness of the settlements as opposed to the conditions in the unrecognized settlements, “especially in light of the Supreme Court ruling calling for basic services in unrecognized settlements“. Despite the awareness of this essential fact, the committee chooses to ignore this.  Because of the fact that the laws will not change, even following the implementation of the proposed policy, it will still be difficult to make the legal settlements more attractive.  The situation described in the report in which “there is a trend of ‘negative immigration’, meaning moving from the legal settlements back to the unrecognized settlements” is destined to continue. The implementation committee must deal with the current situation, and will perhaps have to work to change it to ensure the success of the arrangement.

 

  1. Enforcement – Clause 139 is the only clause that discusses the enforcement of the plans listed in the recommendations chapter (Clauses 71-149). “From now on, there must be a firm and forceful enforcement, without which there is no purpose for our proposals“.  The committee’s reaction was an attempt to evade properly dealing with the issue.  The committee did not propose allocating resources to enforcement officials, did not suggest adding regulations and did not even attempt to explain how we reached a situation in which “south of Beersheva there is no God and no government“.  Three possible reasons caused the committee to easily skip over the subject: the desire to avoid criticism of the police, the desire to avoid criticism of the Bedouin culture, and the reason that is most important to us: the desire to avoid saying what has to be said: implementing this clause would require an enormous budget.  The committee knows that the larger the budget required to implement the proposals of the committee becomes, the chances of the government and the treasury’s approval lessen.  It is clear that with no budget, proposals or substantial plans, the proposal to strengthen the enforcement will go nowhere. The same enforcement that without which “there is no purpose for our proposals“.
  2. High Fertility Rate – Clause 23 describes the high growth rate of the Bedouin population and its future trends.  It is reasonable to assume that the birthrate will drop in the case that an arrangement promoting education and other Western values is reached, but not on a large enough scale to substantially improve the socio-economic situation of the Bedouin population and to remove them from the cycle of poverty that currently plagues them.  This cycle is caused because their high birthrate along with their low socio-economic level do not allow for a high enough level of education to permit future generations to improve their economic situation. The committee did indeed choose to ignore this sensitive subject, but it is recommended for the implementation committee to plan, in conjunction with the leaders of the Bedouin community, a plan for reducing the birthrate.
    1. Bigamy – Clause 24 describes the high fertility rate in the Bedouin population and attributes it, among other factors, to “the bigamy phenomenon, commonly found among Bedouins in the Negev, despite its being a felony (by means of ignoring the government)“. Even so, the Committee chose to ignore this issue throughout the entire document, as well as in its proposed policy. This issue is pertinent both on the fundamental and practical levels.  On the fundamental level, whoever is interested in keeping the State of Israel a Jewish, democratic and law-abiding State cannot allow himself to ignore this issue.  On the practical level, bigamy accelerates the already high birthrate, and thus lessens the chances of reaching an arrangement.  The implementation committee cannot allow itself to evade dealing with this issue, including combating the trend of Bedouin marriage to women from Gaza, Hebron and neighboring states.
    2. The Legal Aspect – Clauses 141-143 discuss the opinion pieces of the governmental authorities, the Attorney General, the Budgeting Department, the Ministry of Environmental Protection, The Israel Land Administration and the Planning Administration of the Ministry of Interior.  The Committee did not obligate itself to accept the recommendations of those authorities; likewise it did not publish them and still refuses to have them published.  We can learn about the views of the Attorney General by the words of hesitation by government representatives, Sharon Gambasho and Yossi Yishai: “We are of the opinion that the proposal should not be instated regarding the lack of enforcement regarding illegal construction in the legislation.  Such a ruling would result in certain difficulty in enforcement with regard to many structures, as presented by the Attorney General“.  While being able to ignore legal difficulties is a privilege reserved only for the proposal writers, the implementation committee must be able to deal with those same difficulties.  In order to prevent legal foot-dragging that would delay the implementation of the arrangement, it is hereby proposed to establish a separate ad-hoc mechanism to provide accelerated legal assistance for legal advice and claims management.

It should be mentioned that in the chapter on treatment, two committee members (Sharon Gambasho and Yossi Yishai, two out of three government representatives in the committee) offer a number of important recommendations, at least some of which are worth adopting.  The recommendations touch upon issues such as property rights, recognition of settlements, legalizing illegal construction and the way in which the policy is to be implemented; they also respond to additional issues that were not discussed in this article.

Aside from those lacunae presented in the report, we must learn from past experience in order not to repeat old mistakes.  The lands and illegal construction issue was previously debated by the Markovich Committee (1986) and the Gazit Committee (2000). In retrospect, it is clear that these reports not only did not solve the problem, they exacerbated it, and in this manner, they ended up causing harm to both the Bedouin population and the State.  In previous reports, as in this report, illegal buildings were approved or ignored as an allegedly humane and correct gesture.  Yet this ruling proved time and again as incorrect and inhumane.

It is incorrect because the approval to legalize an illegal structure has ramifications on the past only, and thus only solves half the problem. The other half lies in the future and is dependent on the ability of the people to uphold the law (once an overall plan is approved) and to enforce it (the prevention of renewed illegal construction).  Without these two components, the task will never be completed, resulting in an understanding that breaking the law was worthwhile in the past, is currently worthwhile and will continue to prove worthwhile in the future.

Permitting the continuation of illegal construction without the proper follow-up is inhumane in that it constitutes a danger to the Bedouin population itself.  Its dispersed population resides in unsafe structures that do not meet Israeli planning and building standards and are lacking proper foundations (such as water, electricity, and sewage) that do not meet safety and environmental standards.  Even public service buildings, such as medical clinics and schools, are built illegally by the government.

The younger generation grows up in this reality and discovers that breaching the law is in its best interest and learns to ignore the State’s demands.  There is no one who counters this wrongdoing, and the State itself, in its actions, sends a message that delinquency pays off.  The current habits of ignorance of the law and ineffective enforcement cause the crime rate to spread to other areas: from property damage to violence.

On the whole, people prefer to belong to stronger, more just and higher quality society.  From the point of view of the Bedouin child in the Negev who grew up in such a reality, the State of Israel is not strong, as it does not enforce its laws; is not just, as it does not stand behind its promises; and is not of high quality, as seen by the low standard of living in his village.  In such a reality, it is easy for a Bedouin child to join one of the many separatist groups who oppose the State.  It is our responsibility to change this reality as soon as possible.

It is possible to change this reality.  One way is through the implementation of the Goldberg Committee Report, after a few necessary adjustments and the solidification of certain parts to ensure the completion of the arrangement as described.  Nonetheless, progressing down this path is also dangerous.  The process leading up to implantation is likely to be lengthy, which may turn this committee into another governmental obligation that the State did not stand behind.  Valuable time will be wasted; the plight of the Bedouins will become worse; and the tiny bit of trust in the State of Israel among the Bedouins will dissipate.

Fortunately there is another shorter and more effective way: the decision makers must remove all of the political obstacles, set the Goldberg Report aside, and clean the dust off of Government Resolution no. 216 (ARB/15) from 17.9.03 “The Plan for Dealing with the Bedouin Sector in the Negev – Revised Version of Resolution no. 216 (ARB/1), 14.4.03, including revisions approved in Resolution no. 216 (ARB/14), 17.9.03”.

 

This resolution was put into effect at a time when the government was faced with the same needs and considerations that it was faced with in the Goldberg Committee.  The program approved in the resolution is already ready to be implemented and appropriately responds to the needs of the population in all areas of life, beginning with developing existing permanent settlements to establishing new settlements to improving living conditions in the settlements, including education, culture and welfare in order for these to serve as a center of attraction for the dispersed population.  A complimentary step would be the strengthening of the enforcement including a proper allocation of resources and budgeting, including a timetable for step by step implementation.  All that is left is to make a decision and to act on it: To send this plan back to the legislators, approve it as a law to be implemented, appoint appropriate professionals and ensure full support spanning all parties for as long as the project takes until completion.

We must act now, as there is no time to form a third committee.

 

To The Full Position Paper

ILA Reform

By National Public Lands No Comments

As part of its efforts to save the economy from the world economic crisis, the 32nd Israeli Government chose to institute a reform in the Israel Land Administration (ILA).  It is understandable that this reform may in fact be essential for a future increase in economic growth, but without properly dealing with the substantive aspect of the reform, it can be stated that this reform contains a number of components that harm the State of Israel’s national interests as the National Home of the Jewish People.

Presented here are clauses that we find harmful to the Zionist Goal, followed by means to amend them while preserving the interests of the Jewish People, and without harming the objectives of the reform:

  1. The reform asserts that State lands will be transferred to private ownership, in clear defiance of Basic Law: Lands of Israel, which declares that these lands are only to be leased.  This change opposes the Jewish principle of “This land will never be sold permanently”, raises the chances of hostile purchase of these lands, and releases these lands from the hands of the Jewish People and its future generations.

Our recommendation is that State lands remain in the possession of the State, without harming the rights of the lessees and by means of virtually eliminating the bureaucracy required between the lessees and the Administration.

  1. The reform delegates planning and building authority to the local boards, which are vulnerable to political pressures from local pressure groups.  If they are unable to stand these pressures, this will bring about harsh planning and building problems in the local councils, especially in those already suffering from improper administration.

Our recommendation is that local planning committees are only granted authority of departments that have already proven proper management over time, and will be subordinate to regional planning committees which will properly respond to appeals.

  1. The reform harms the rights and status of the JNF and does not ensure essential future arrangements to preserve the interests of the JNF in light of the proposed reform.

Because of the moral obligation of the State of Israel to the JNF and the Jewish People, our recommendations on the issue are:

  1. Future land exchanges between the ILA and the JNF are toinclude lands capable of being developed.
  2. The value of the lands under ILA ownership is to remain the same.
  3. The position of the JNF on the ILA board is to be maintained.
  4. The JNF is to manage its lands independently and in accordance with its founding documents.

To The Full Position Paper By Adi Arbel (In Hebrew)

Is This Land Still Our Land: The Expropriation of Zionism

By National Public Lands No Comments

Summary:

The Supreme Court ruled in 2000 that the State could not allocate land to the Jewish Agency for Jewish settlement (inside the green line).  It held that this violated equality because it discriminated against non-Jews (Arabs) who could not buy a house in this Jewish settlement. This, even though the Court had years before allowed the State to sell land at subsidized prices exclusively to Arabs (Bedouins) in an urban area planned just for them.

:Other similar cases were brought, including one which would prohibit the State from facilitating Jewish settlements on Jewish National Fund lands which, were bought with private Jewish funds raised from Jews all over the world since 1901.  The JNF is a private company whose charter provides that it is to purchase land in Israel for Jews to develop and settle, and that these JNF lands were never to be sold (only leased) and are to be held in perpetual trust for the Jewish People. The Attorney General, representing the State in the court proceeding (though never consulting with the government) took the position in court that JNF land, like State land, cannot be used for exclusively Jewish settlement.

Jewish settlement is a cardinal value of the Zionist project to establish and promote a Jewish State.  The petitioners in all these cases are Arab NGOs and many see this as another thrust in a coordinated effort to undermine and eliminate the Zionist state.

In an article published this month in Azure two members of the IZS team discuss this case, the meaning of democracy, and the morality of a Jewish state.  They show that many democratic states, like Israel, are nation-states which promote the majority culture, identity, religion, and/or immigration of its kin (e.g., Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, the United Kingdom, Norway, Denmark, and Greece).  They show that the Court is bogged down in a parochial conception of democracy and that it misconstrues the nature of nation-states.  They argue that the Israeli Court currently is an elitist, undemocratic body abrogating for itself the right to change the Israeli society against the wishes of the vast majority of its citizens and of their democratically elected representatives.

 

Click here to read the full article

Planning and Construction Committee Reform

By National Public Lands No Comments

A Reform in the Planning and Building Committee

A Brainstorming Session with the Director-General of the Prime Minister’s Office (6.08.09)

 

As we prepare to examine the reform in the planning system of the State of Israel, we must firstly recognize the fact that the State of Israel is a state with unique circumstances.  The central and most significant piece of information is that the land of Israel is a limited resource and present and future needs are great.  Therefore it is imperative to plan land use wisely and to keep future needs in mind.  Furthermore, the State of Israel possesses additional characteristics that should be taken into consideration:

 

  • A fertility rate similar to developing countries versus a consumption rate similar to developed countries.
  • A narrow width reaching a mere 15 km in certain areas.
  • Israeli society is comprised of weak populations such as minorities, haredim and olim who tend to prioritize urgent needs and short term considerations over long term planning goals.
  • Throughout all the years of its existence, the State of Israel faced Zionist challenges that necessitated the initiation of projects requiring substantial reserves of land and central planning, for example: absorbing waves of mass immigration, establishing the Misgav settlement bloc in the Galilee, establishing the city Bahadim in the Negev, establishing central infrastructure systems (such as the natural gas lines and Highway 6), strengthening the periphery, etc.
  • The disparities in the quality of life between the center and periphery of the State are drastically increasing.
  • Most local authorities do not function properly: State comptroller reports indicate a declining trend both in terms of integrity and in terms of proper management.  A majority of authorities collect less than 50% of property taxes.  Many local authorities are lacking the abilities and tools to properly manage planning while catering to the broad public-national interest, as opposed to what can be observed in national planning policy.
  • The rate of enforcement of planning and building laws is low in the population as a whole and in all sectors of society.

 

In light of the aforementioned, following is a list of core tenets for any future planning policy.

  • The government should maintain jurisdiction over powers that facilitate the preservation of national interests.
  • Aside from the environmental function they hold, open expanses serve as a national reserve of the State of Israel to be used for future generations and Diaspora Jewry. The tools currently available in the planning system should be utilized to preserve the open expanses as a national reserve of the State.
  • The enforcement system for planning and building laws should be immediately reinforced without political considerations or sectoral distinctions.
  • The enforcement should be focused primarily on open expanses (as opposed to building violations such as enclosing a porch).
  • The transfer of building and planning authority to local authorities should be done, if at all, in a gradual and controlled manner, and only to authorities that have demonstrated proper management over time and possess the skills and tools necessary for exercising these powers.  Therefore, the appointment of local planning and building committees, in accordance with Article 62.a. of the Planning and Building Law should be carried out without the easing of rules or quantitative quotas. Government Resolution No. 117 (ממי/5) from 12.05.2009, which instructs “the Minister of Interior to appoint at least ten local planning and building committees…during each of the years 2010-2014” can bring about an undesirable modification of the criteria stated by law.  It is proposed to only approve local authorities that have demonstrated that they fulfill the professional criteria as stated by law.
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