Latest Articles & Research

Basic Law proposal: Israel as the Nation State of the Jewish People – the liberal justification

By Nation State No Comments

Aviad Bakshi

Abstract

There are those who argue that the idea of a Jewish nation-state contradicts the liberal values of human rights and therefore is illegitimate. Others agree, for various reasons, to accept the legitimacy of a state for the Jewish nation despite their feeling that it is a violation of the values of human rights. They seek to minimize the expression of the Jewish nation component in the State of Israel’s internal legal system.  They, therefore,

oppose a Basic Law calling for the State of Israel to be recognized as the nation-state of the Jewish people. This position paper argues the opposite.

Anchoring the notion of Israel as the Jewish nation-state in law is needed not despite- but because of Israel’s commitment to the liberal values of human rights. The point of view, which seeks to prevent people embodying their self-identification in a nation-state, manifests a lack of respect for people and is detrimental to the basic human right to autonomy, identity, and culture. It is this point of view which suppresses human rights and which is seeped in cultural imperialism.  It violates the basic liberal value of respecting each person as a whole. This position paper argues that a liberal nation-state is obligated to safeguard the human rights of minority groups and continually to strike a balance between those rights and the country’s identity as a nation-state, respecting each person’s right to self-identification within the nation-state. Read More

Israel, the Jewish nation, and Judaism

By Nation State No Comments

By Prof. David A. Frankel

Judaism is more than just a religion. Judaism is a way of life based on loyalty to the nation, to its values and history. To be a Jew means to belong to the Jewish people, to the Jewish nation. There is a difference between belonging to a people or nation and identification with a country. The notion of a nation is deeper than that of a country. A person may be a citizen of several countries, but he cannot be part of more than one nation.

The establishment of the State of Israel blurred the concepts and led to misunderstanding by many, as Israeli citizenship does not necessarily equate to membership in the Jewish people. At the same time, at its founding the State of Israel was declared to be the state of the Jewish people and it is primarily defined as a Jewish and democratic state. This definition is also grounded in the country’s Basic Laws. One of the results of these blurred lines is that the country’s character must embrace Judaism in its widest sense. Read More

Solidarity, Nationalism and Humanism – on the Question of Immigration

By Immigration No Comments

By Prof. Avi Diskin

The question of immigration is part and parcel of the basic societal dilemmas which we call, in the current context, the dilemma of “solidarity limits.” National solidarity is not only a practical and appropriate solution but is also an idea which is a suitable companion to basic liberal rights and freedoms such as the right for self-definition and the right of free association.

The currently most accepted and stable limits of solidarity are the borders of sovereign nations in general and the borders of nation-states specifically. Countries are characterized by territorial limits and by the sovereignty they apply to the territory they control. It is this sovereignty which is decisive in immigration issues. International agreements and the principles of basic morality require countries to help refugees — especially those running for their lives — but in principle leave the formalities of immigration to the various sovereign nations. Countries are not required to grant refugees citizenship or even integrate them into society; they are only required to prevent the refugee’s extradition to places which represent a danger to life. All countries apply selection criteria for immigration and in many countries these tests center around the country’s national identity and the identity of those seeking to immigrate. Read More

From a distance: what’s the connection between the infiltrators, the housing crisis, and society’s status gap?

By Immigration No Comments

By Ayal Gabbai and Ro’i Yelnick

A new position paper by Ayal Gabbai, former director of the prime minister’s office, and Ro’i Yelnick, an Institute researcher, presents the existential problems which are created by the infiltration of foreigners into Israel. The paper raises significant questions which must be asked and offers practical solutions.

The housing crisis – Currently (2014) there are somewhere between 40,000-60,000 infiltrators in Israel. Most live in extreme conditions: four to six people in one apartment. Their conditions impact the Israeli population and create a housing crisis – in recent years tens of thousands of apartments have been occupied by the infiltrators.

Education and welfare – The main challenge facing the educational system is what and how to teach the foreign student and whether they are to be considered permanent students or transient. The problems compound because the main burdens (welfare, education, and health) fall on already weakened regions, cities, and government infrastructures. Many of the infiltrators live in south Tel Aviv, Eilat, and Arad, none of which are swimming in resources.

Beyond presenting the problem, Gabbai and Yelnick discuss the identity of the infiltrators – do they immigrate for work purposes or are they refugees fleeing for their lives? According to Gabbai and Yelnick, there are organizations which take advantage of the phenomenon in order to destroy Israel’s character as a Jewish state and try to turn the country into a state of all its residents. Read More

Refugees (?) in Israel

By Immigration No Comments

On the Legal Status of the African Immigrants in Israel

By Nir Amran

The Israeli public has been intensely occupied with the arrival in Israel of many African immigrants and refugees over the past decade, their sojourn here, and the obligation of the State toward them, but it seems as though the public debate is missing something and that before our eyes it is falling into the typical pattern of polarity in which cookie-cutter opposing arguments clash. This is especially clear in the debate about the infiltrators’ legal status; each side “bases” its argument on a variety of concepts and ideas – briefly reviewed in this paper- and although most are indeed connected to this complex issue, they are used in a mix-and-match fashion and not always in the proper context.

The purpose of this paper is to summarize the base for claims about the status of infiltrators as seen in international law and expressed in Israeli law and to show the complexity of this legal issue. This document does not try to arbitrate between the claims, only to uncover the correct origins and contexts of concepts drawn from the world of international law and to raise practical questions about their implementation. The document also draws attention to the legal issues which arise from the geo-political and security aspects of the subject. Read More

Non-citizen Foreigners in Israel

By Immigration No Comments

Ariel Finkelstein

The phenomenon of non-citizen foreigners living inIsrael has gained widespread recognition because of the infiltrations on the Israeli southern border. Even so, it seems that the public discourse is deficient and is often influenced by manipulation and incomplete data. The purpose of this document is to summarize and organize the primary data and opinions on this topic and serve as a basis for a serious, productive discussion leading to policy. This document will not propose such policy; it will only present the facts and opinions of the various parties to the public discourse. Effort has been made to present the widest set of facts and a variety of opinions and their roots, with no attempt to reach a conclusion.

The document refers to three main groups of non-citizen foreigners in Israel:

1. Infiltrators: Foreigners who have illegally entered Israel on the Egyptian border and who were caught at the border or within the country.

2. Foreign workers: This group is sub-divided in two – foreign workers with valid work permits and foreign workers who entered Israel with valid work permits which have since expired.

3. Tourists without valid permits: Foreigners from underdeveloped countries who entered Israel as tourists and stayed without valid permits. It is thought that most of them work illegally. Read More

The time has come to terminate the activity of UNRWA

By Fighting Anti-Israel Activity No Comments

By Nir Amran[i]

Throughout THE Protective Edge Campaign (July-August 2014), the Israeli public was exposed to media reports concerning numerous shooting incidents by Hamas from UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees) facilities and compounds, such places that by definition are supposed to be neutral, for example:  schools, clinics, offices and humanitarian detention centers and shelters.  Also uncovered, was the fact that the UNRWA offices served as storage places for weapons, explosives and missiles belonging to Hamas, thus endangering  the lives of the very Palestinians most in need of the  Agency services.  Upon discovery, these weapons and ammunition were returned to “the local authorities”.

Much data has been collected over the years by the Israeli security forces, as well as during previous military operations such as Pillar of Defense and Cast Lead, corroborating an existing link between the Agency and anti-Israeli aggressive activity, especially terrorism.  Ever since Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in 2006, the Agency has become a kind of executive branch of Hamas, employing many of the terrorist organization’s own people.

It is very likely that once the new Government in Jerusalem takes office, the peace discussions will resume – with the USA, Europe and Egypt acting as mediators – tackling some of Hamas’ “long term” demands – those that were set aside previously as “too tough to crack at the present time”.  Examples of the issues to be negotiated are Hamas’ demand that a sea port be built, the setting free of additional Palestinian prisoners and the opening up the border crossings completely.  Israel, on its part, will presumably demand a complete demilitarization of the Gaza Strip, and the close and effective supervision of goods and donated funds entering it. Read More

Taxation of Kabbalists in Israel

By Additional Issues, Religion and State No Comments

Dozens of Rabbis in Israel, who are known as Kabbalists (mekubalim), function in Israel. They are involved in giving blessings for success, providing personal or business advice, and mediating between businessmen. Remuneration given for these services is generally considered as a donation to the Kabbalist, for which they are not required to pay any taxes.

In the public debate about the appropriateness of this tax exemption, much of the blame is directed at the Kabbalists. This position paper discloses how the Israel Tax Authority has discussed this issue for more than a decade, and has still not succeeded in formulating a uniform policy which is enforced. Read More

“Ethnic-Based Duplication in the Israeli Rabbinate”

By Rabbinate and Local Religious Councils, Religion and State No Comments

By Ariel Finkelstein

The ingathering of the Jewish people during the 20th century has led to a significant change in the role of the rabbinate. Up until that period the custom had been for one rabbi, called the Mara D’Atra (lord of the place), to be appointed for each community or city. The 1911 appointment of two rabbis – one Ashkenazi and one Sephardi – for the city of Jaffa and the 1921 appointment of two chief rabbis created the ethnic-based duplication customary to this day in the chief rabbinate and in many cities, townships, and regions.

This position paper surveys the historical development of the laws, regulations and legal rulings dealing with ethnic-based duplication in the chief and local rabbinates and raises three main problems caused by the duplication: Read More

Rabbinical Appointments in Israeli Cities

By Rabbinate and Local Religious Councils, Religion and State No Comments

 Eitan Yarden and Ariel Finkelstein

The process of choosing a city rabbi in Israel is difficult, complicated and subject to a host of political scuffles. In recent years, the situation has worsened and nearly every appointment of city rabbi has faced challenges in court, where they get held up for years. Therefore, several recent Supreme Court rulings have mentioned the need to change the appointment procedure. This position paper will present ideas to fix some of the problems which have been discovered in the current process.

The first part of the position paper discusses the appointment process. Read More

Font Resize
Contrast