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Israeli Democracy: Historical Origins and Future Perspectives

Democracy in Israel Series

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On Jan. 12, acclaimed Israeli political scientist Shlomo Avineri, a former Director-General of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, explored how Israeli democracy was able to withstand extremely difficult challenges, external and internal, by drawing on pre-state Zionist and Jewish institutional traditions. The keynote lecture was part of the Y&S Nazarian Center's series exploring the state of democracy in Israel: past, present, and future.

About the Series

The series provides a public forum for distinguished scholars to highlight and discuss current research and issues such as illiberal and authoritarian challenges to democracy. In addition to the public keynotes, there will be a closed-group research colloquium. Against a backdrop of populism, xenophobic nationalism, and challenges to legal institutions, democracy, especially liberal democracy, is facing serious challenges in the world today. 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.

UCLA Professor David N. Myers, who holds the Sady and Ludwig Kahn Chair in Jewish History, served as moderator and led Q&A. UCLA Professor Dov Waxman, The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation Chair in Israel Studies and director of the Y&S Nazarian Center for Israel Studies, led off the program with an introduction to the "Democracy in Israel" series.

Co-sponsored by the Sady and Ludwig Kahn Chair in Jewish History and the UCLA Department of History.

 

About the Keynote Lecture

Israeli Democracy: Historical Origins and Future Perspectives


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).

The lecture explored how Israeli democracy was able to withstand extremely difficult challenges, external and internal, by drawing on pre-state Zionist and Jewish institutional traditions. These were analyzed as well as the current dilemmas facing the country under changing conditions.


About the Distinguished Speaker

Shlomo Avineri is Professor of Political Science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities. He studied at the Hebrew University and the London School of Economics, and is currently also Recurring Visiting Professor at the Central European University in Budapest. He served as Director-General of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the first cabinet of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. In 1995 he was awarded the Israel Prize, the country's highest civilian decoration. He held numerous visiting appointments abroad, among them at Yale, Cornell, University of California, Northwestern University, Oxford, Cardozo School of Law and the Australian National University, as well as at the Brookings Institution, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (both in Washington DC) and IMEMO (Moscow).

Among his publications, which have been translated into many languages are: The Social and Political Thought of Karl Marx (1968), Hegel's Theory of the Modern State (1972), Israel and the Palestinians (1971), Moses Hess: Prophet of Communism and Zionism (1985), The Making of Modern Zionism (1981), and Herzl: Theodor Herzl and the Foundation of the Jewish State (2013). He is member of the International Advisory Board of the full critical edition of the writings of Marx and Engels (MEGA), published by the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam and the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences.

 

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.