The Israeli Nation-State: Political, Constitutional, and Cultural Challenges

The Israeli Nation-State: Political, Constitutional, and Cultural Challenges

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Edited by Fania Oz-Salzberger & Yedidia Z. Stern

Series: Israel: Society, Culture, and History
ISBN: 9781618113894 (hardcover) / 9781618113924 (paper)
Pages: 386 pp.
Publication Date: June 2014 

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This volume of original essays, by some of Israel’s most remarkable public and academic voices, offers a series of state-of-the art, accessible analyses of Israel’s ever-evolving theater of statecraft, public debates, and legal and cultural dramas, its deep divisions and—more surprisingly, perhaps—its internal affinities and common denominators. 

Contributors: Fania Oz-Salzberger, Yedidia Z. Stern, Ayman K. Agbaria, Aviad Bakshi, Ariel L. Bendor, Ruth Gavison, Michael M. Karayanni, David Passig, Avi Sagi, Gideon Sapir, Anita Shapira, Daniel Statman, Gadi Taub, Shira Wolosky, Alexander Yakobson, Yaffa Zilbershats.

Fania Oz-Salzberger  (DPhil Oxford University) is professor of history at the University of Haifa Center for German and European Studies and Faculty of Law, where she directs the Posen Research Forum for Political Thought. She was Professor and Leon Liberman Chair of Modern Israel Studies at Monash University (2007–2012), and Laurance S. Rockefeller Visiting Professor for Distinguished Teaching at Princeton University (2009–10). Among her books are Translating the Enlightenment (1995), Israelis in Berlin (2001), and Jews and Words, co-authored with Amos Oz (2012). She recently edited, with Thomas Maissen, The Liberal-Republican Quandary in Israel, Europe, and the United States (2012).

Yedidia Z. Stern  (SJD Harvard University) is the Vice President of Research at Israel Democracy Institute, where he heads the projects on “Religion and State” and “Human Rights and Judaism.” He is a full professor at Bar-Ilan University Law School, and served as its Dean. He wrote and edited 20 books in his are of professional interest: religion and state, Jewish law, public law, and corporate law. His awards include the Zeltner Prize for excellence in Legal Research in Israel (2009) and the Gorni Prize for special contribution in public law (2012).

There can be no more urgent issues facing the contemporary State of Israel than the relationship between democracy and its Jewish identity. In these trenchant and timely essays, the authors—all of them distinguished Israeli scholars—approach the question with tools of political theory, history, law and the philosophy of religion.
— David Biale, Emanuel Ringelblum Distinguished Professor, University of California, Davis
An outstanding collection of essays by the leading scholars writing on modern Israel. Anyone who wants to think deeper about the Jewish and democratic character of Israel and the complicated relationship between state and religion should read this book.
— Michael Brenner, Distinguished Historian in Residence and Director of the Center for Israel Studies, American University
The essays in this volume are always illuminating, often passionate, and at times provocative. They enrich our understanding of Israel’s political and legal system, and they are particularly useful for providing differing perspectives on the ongoing debate over whether Israel can be both a Jewish and democratic state. Clearly and accessibly written, this volume will be a valuable resource for undergraduates and general readers as well as specialists.
— Derek Penslar, Stanley Lewis Professor of Israel Studies, University of Oxford

Table of Contents


Introductory Remarks
Fania Oz‐Salzberger and Yedidia Z. Stern

I. Revisiting the Basics    
1. The State of Israel and National Identity  
Yedidia Z. Stern  
2. What is Zionism?   
Gadi Taub

II. Historical and Philosophical Contexts  
3. Democratic First, Jewish Second: A Rationale   
Fania Oz‐Salzberger 
4. Cosmopolitanism versus Normative Difference: From Habermas to Levinas—Is Israel an Exception?  
Shira Wolosky 
5. The Holocaust as the Zionist and Anti‐Zionist Narrative of the State of Israel  
Anita Shapira

III. State and Nation  
6. The Constitutional Signficance of the Jewishness of Israel   
Ariel L. Bendor 
7. Reflections on the Meaning and Justification of “Jewish” in the Expression “A Jewish and Democratic State” 
Ruth Gavison 
8. Israel as a Nation‐State in Supreme Court Rulings
Aviad Bakshi and Gideon Sapir 
9. A Jewish Majority as the Leading Criterion for Shaping Immigration Policy to Israel
Yaffa Zilbershats

IV. State and Religions  
10. Religion and State: A Critical Analysis of Meanings in Public Discourse
Avi Sagi 
11. The Right to the Land: From Moral Justifications to Religious Justifications and Back Again
Daniel Statman 
12. The Liberal/Multicultural Nature of the Religious Accommodations for the Palestinian‐Arab Minority in Israel: A Curse or Blessing?  
Michael M. Karayanni

V. Society, Culture, and Demography  
13. Is Israeli Society Disintegrating? Doomsday Prophecies and Facts on the Ground
Alexander Yakobson
14. The Palestinian Israelis’ Attempt to Challenge the Jewish State in Education: A Citizenship Act or a Radical Shift?
Ayman K. Agbaria 
15. The Future of Nationhood in Israel
David Passig