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Democracy in Israel: Past, Present, and Future

January - June 2021 (ONLINE)

The Y&S Nazarian Center for Israel Studies at UCLA presents a series of online programs exploring critical issues of Israeli democracy. These will include three public keynote addresses by prominent speakers, as well as a closed-group research colloquium for scholars from diverse institutions and disciplines. The series is co-sponsored by the Sady and Ludwig Kahn Chair in Jewish History and the UCLA Department of History.


About the Program

Democracy, especially liberal democracy, is facing serious challenges in the world today as populism, xenophobic nationalism, and illiberalism have gained strength around the world. Core principles and practices of liberal democracies such as a free press, an independent judiciary, and the rights of minorities have come under sustained attack, and “illiberal democracies” have emerged in many places (such as Hungary, Turkey, and Poland). Like every country in the world, Israel is not immune from this global trend. And yet, democracy in Israel has its own distinctive history and trajectory as Israel aspires to be both Jewish and democratic—to be at once a Jewish state and a state that affords full rights to all its citizens.

In 2021, the Y&S Nazarian Center for Israel Studies at UCLA is organizing a series of online programs devoted to exploring the state of democracy in Israel: past, present, and future. Involving some of the most important scholars and thinkers on democracy in Israel, the series will consist of three keynote public lectures and a closed research colloquium with select scholars from a range of disciplines —History, Law, Political Science, Sociology, and Philosophy—who will present and discuss papers on the topic of democracy in Israel. These papers will later be published in an edited volume.

Due to the University’s response to COVID-19, the 2021 Colloquium Series was conducted remotely.


Keynote Public Lectures:

"Israeli Democracy: Historical Origins and Future Perspectives"
January 12, 2021
Presented by Shlomo Avineri, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, former Director-General of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and recipient of the Israel Prize (the country's highest civilian decoration).

Watch Recording



"Resentment and Populist Politics: The Case of Israel"
March 2, 2021
Presented by Eva Illouz, the Rose Isaac Chair in Sociology at Hebrew University of Jerusalem and is a Senior Research Fellow at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute. She is the author of 13 books about diverse topics, including crystallization of the psychological culture during the 20th century.

Event ended


"Identity Politics in Israel and the US"
June 16, 2021
Presented by Yael (Yuli) Tamir, President of Beit Berl College, and a former Israeli Minister of Immigration, Minister of Education and Deputy Speaker of the Knesset. She is a founding member of the Israeli peace movement “Peace Now” and served as chairperson of the Association of Civil Rights in Israel.

Watch Recording


DISCLAIMER: The views or opinions of our guest speakers and the content of their presentations do not necessarily reflect the views of the UCLA Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for Israel Studies. Hosting speakers does not constitute an endorsement of the speaker's views or opinions.