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Democracy in Israel: Past, Present, and Future

January - May 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 will be conducted remotely. Public presentations will be live streamed via Zoom and (when permitted by the speaker) recorded and posted to the Center's webpage.


Keynote Public Lectures:

"Israeli Democracy: Historical Origins and Future Perspectives"
Tuesday, January 12, 2021
10:30 AM - 12:00 PM (Pacific Time)
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).

Click to Register



"Resentment and Populist Politics: The Case of Israel"
Tuesday, March 2, 2021
10:30 AM - 12:00 PM (Pacific Time)
Presented by Eva Illhouz, 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.

Click to Register


"Identity Politics in Israel and the USA"
Thursday, May 27, 2021
10:30 AM - 12:00 PM (Pacific Time)
Presented by Yael Tamir, President of Shenkar 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.

Click to Register


Note: Some of the details of public lectures and each presentation are still forthcoming, so check back later for updates on this Colloquium Series page, or sign up to receive our emails. You may also email if you have questions to Israel@international.ucla.edu