Dr Zvi Tzameret, who served as the director of the Pedagogic Secretariat at the Ministry of Education in the years 2010 and 2011, sums up his period of office and presents a number of fundamental failings in the Israeli educational system: the limited functioning of the Pedagogic Secretariat; the politicization underlying the subject of Israeli culture; the multiplicity of subjects offered for the Bagrut examinations; the status of the core subjects; and the methods of teaching civics.
In recent years the State of Israel continually finds itself isolated in the international arena. A significant rise in anti-Israeli sentiment is evident, especially during times of political stagnation or regional instability.
At times like this, there is a tendency, sometimes justifiable, to point the finger at flawed government policy and ineffective Israel advocacy.
After delivering hundreds of lectures to thousands of students in Israel and abroad, we believe that there is another reason for the decline in Israel’s international standing.
Then Satan Said/ Natan Alterman
(translated from Hebrew)
..Satan then said:
How do I overcome
This besieged one?
He has courage
And implements of war
…only this shall I do,
I’ll dull his mind
And cause him to forget
The justice of his cause
It has to do with the notion that we – the Israeli people – have lost conviction in the justness of our cause, Zionism. This assessment is based on the premise that Israel advocacy needs to start from within – we believe that the degree to which Israelis better understand and acknowledge Israel’s right to exist, is the degree to which we will be able to represent ourselves effectively abroad.
The purpose of this proposal to the Ministry of Education is to introduce the study of public diplomacy to Israeli high schools. The public diplomacy track (The program will either be required of all students, or made optional for specialty track students) will provide Israeli teenagers with a basic understanding of the history and current status of the Arab-Israeli conflict, something that has thus far been significantly lacking from the history and civic studies tracks. It will also teach students the theory and practice of public diplomacy, and provide them with practical skills in effective communication. Throughout the program, students will be exposed to books, articles, literature and films about improving Israel’s standing in the international arena. Read More
Basic Law: The National Home
The State of Israel was established as a Jewish state. Previous to its founding, the international community (speaking through the League of Nations and the UN Charter) had established and administered the British mandate to help ensure this result, and the General Assembly called for theestablishment of Jewish and Arab states in November 1949. In its Declaration of Independence, the newly established Jewish state was defined as the National Home of the Jewish People. The Declaration also set forth some of the democratic principles to govern the State. For more than fifty there had been a broad public consensus in Israel regarding the meaning of a Jewish state and of the National Home of the Jewish People. But in recent years, there has been a change. A strong segment of the academic, intellectual and judicial establishment in Israel has been working to see to it that Israel becomes a liberal-democratic state instead of aJewish state and the National Home of the Jewish People. The state this group seeks to fashion would retain certain Jewish characteristics, but only those which do not infringe upon the principle of absolute equality. This extreme approach distorts the intentions of the nation’s founding fathers and the objective and moral reasons for Israel’s creation It would alter the Jewish nature of Israel and decimate its centrality and strength for theJewish People.
Clearly therefore, there is a pressing need to establish by law the fundamental characteristics of Israel as a Jewish state and the National Home for the Jewish People. This legislation must be in the form of a Basic Law so that it will not be undermined and eroded by judicial fiat. The IZS has drafted just such a Basic Law. The IZS draft law also includes provisions for the State to promote Jewish culture, history, education, and aliyah. It reaffirms and strengthens the connection of the Jewish state to the Jewish People, and the Jewish characteristics of the State, such as the centrality of Jerusalem, Hebrew as the official language, the Jewish calendar, and the national flag and anthem. Read More
The State of Israel as the National Home of the Jewish People
Dubi Helman & Adi Arbel
The State of Israel was established as a Jewish state. This is clear from the terms of the League of Nations Mandate to establish a Jewish Homeland, from the UN Charter (which assumed responsibility for and continued this Mandate), from the UN Resolution of November 29, 1947 calling for the establishment of Jewish and Arab states, and from Israel’s Declaration of Independence (quoted below).
Israel’s character and behavior have always manifested its mission as a Jewish Homeland and the vast majority of Israelis have always so regarded their Country. However, a small group of intellectuals have been advocating a radical liberal form of democracy which would elevate the ideal of absolute equality among all groups above all other democratic values (such as national self-determination, majority rule, liberty, and civil rights). This view has infiltrated the decisions of the Supreme Court whose members are appointed by a committee dominated by sitting Supreme Court judges without any ratification process.
Recently, leaders of the Israeli Arab population have issued calls for the conversion of Israel into a bi-national state without any connection to the Jewish people or culture. Read More
An analysis of the current legal situation
Dr. Aviad Bakshi
It is commonly assumed that there are two official languages in Israel: Hebrew and Arabic. This assumption is not merely an academic theory, but serves as the basis for efforts to strengthen the status of Arabic as a language to be used for public purposes. In other words, many who are under the impression that Arabic has the legal status of an official language seek to maintain it as such.
The purpose of this document is to clarify for decision makers the current legal situation governing Arabic in Israel. This will enable them to make an informed and balanced decision concerning its future status. After the legal ramifications of an official language presented, it will be evident that Arabic is not an official language in Israel.
The State is permitted, and sometimes obligated, to provide linguistic accessibility to government services for speakers of various languages. An official language, though, differs from linguistic accessibility to government services on an as-needed basis, in that it grants a permanent and comprehensive status to the chosen language. An official language is the language in which the government operates in every respect, with all the functional and symbolic significance entailed.
According to Article 81 of the Palestine Order in Council (on which the claim that Arabic is an official language is based), an official language is not limited to enabling citizens to access information, but is the language with which the government operates in general. The official language may be used in courts and government offices, by both the citizens, and judges and officials. Any official government publication must be made the official language(s). The legislature’s choice of an official language therefore expresses a cultural choice concerning the language of government activity, and the public language in its sphere of influence, with all the derivative functional and symbolic significance. Read More
The goal of this position paper is to support the proposed Basic Law, Israel as the Nation State of the Jewish People, and to present the legal justifications for the enactment of this Basic Law.
While it is true that the principle of Israel as the Jewish people’s nation-state had been firmly anchored in Israeli law and legislation for dozens of years and that it reflects the traditional values of the Israeli state; over the past twenty years there has been a dramatic erosion in this status by Supreme Court rulings. A fundamental circumstance in Israel’s present legal reality, is the lack of a legal anchor for Israel’s crucial dimension as the nation-state of the Jewish people. This Basic Law proposal is in line with the accepted traditions of Israeli law and simultaneously fills a practical legal need caused by deviation from this tradition by the Supreme Court rulings described above. Read More
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
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
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
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