By Paul Scham, GIIS Executive Director
MEI, January 22, 2020
Jan.15, 2020 was the last date to submit electoral “lists” for the Israeli election scheduled for March 2. If you think you’ve heard a lot about Israeli elections recently, you’re not having déjà vu; in fact this is the third Israeli general election in less than 11 months. The previous two were so evenly split between the “Left” and “Right” blocs that no governing coalition could be formed. While there are still more than six weeks till the election — and an equal length of time after that before any government coalition is likely to be formed — this article will examine the political actors who will contest the election, with particular attention to those on the left and right ends of the spectrum. Read more
By Daniel B. Shapiro
The new Board Chair of the Israel Institute explains why the mission of bringing accessible, high-level courses about Israel to university campuses is so crucial
The American Jewish Community facilitates many opportunities to expose our young people, and increasingly, our non-Jewish friends and partners, to Israel through travel and other experiential education programs and exchanges. These are important, meaningful initiatives that deserve to be continued and expanded. Read more
Former Chiefs of Staff Fight for Principles of Statism
By Yoram Peri, GIIS Director
SWP Comment 2020/C 02, January 2020, 4 Pages
Over the last decade, the gap between the military and political elites in Israel has increased and eventually peaked in 2019, when a group of senior officers who had just retired from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) formed a new party – led by three former chiefs of staff – and called for the replacement of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government. This gap has developed because Israel’s previous governments have represented a new kind of polarising, right-wing politics beyond what is considered a shared national common sense. The military, on the other hand, is striving to maintain the character it has acquired as a “Nation in Arms” by reflecting the entire society of Israel and acting according to its professional ethos and national statist values. The stated goal of the officers entering politics was to defend those values against perceivably partisan and polarising governmental politics. The composition of a future government is thus both: A competition over principled values of the state, but also a determination about the steps regarding the military and political leadership in Israel, as well as the military’s relations with society at large. Read more
By Yoram Peri, GIIS Director
Memorandum No. 195, INSS, October 2019
It has been precisely thirty years since Eastern Europe experienced the Velvet Revolution, first in Berlin, then Prague, and finally Bratislava. Throngs of people flocked to the squares and a new spirit of freedom filled the air. In November 1989, the Berlin Wall fell, offering dramatic evidence of the collapse of the Soviet Union, the implosion of the Soviet bloc, and the end of the struggle between the two major ideologies of the second half of the twentieth century. The excitement in the West was so great that Francis Fukuyama attributed Hegelian significance to these events, penning The End of History. The world, including the former Soviet Union and even China, he wrote authoritatively, would now undergo a process of “convergence” and all nations would adopt the principles of liberal democracy. Read more
An analysis co-authored by Moran Stern, a PhD candidate in Government and Politics at the University of Maryland, featured in The New York Jewish Week.
The single most important factor that has shaped the Israeli political landscape over the past year is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s attempt to evade prosecution. As Israelis enter the final days of their unprecedented second election of 2019, it is worth remembering that Netanyahu’s battle for survival is not only for his political career but potentially for his personal freedoms as well.
If Netanyahu fails to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat on Tuesday, he faces the very real possibility of a trial and potentially prison time. Cornered, Netanyahu is deploying all means at his disposal, with profound implications for Israeli democracy, rule of law and governance. Read more
By Paul Scham, MEI Scholar and Executive Director of GIIS
Israeli elections are generally lively affairs, with a plethora of parties combining, splitting, and making up — very much like a daytime soap opera. This election, set for Sept. 17, dragged on through the summer and looked set to be a repeat of its predecessor on April 9, when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed by a single Knesset vote to put together a majority coalition. It has indeed been a largely sleepy affair, with the centrist (moving toward center-right) Blue-White party dueling with the Likud for the crucial top spot (providing the first chance to form a coalition) and most other parties barely budging in the polls. This somnolence ended explosively the week before the election with a series of events whose impact is still unclear. Read more
By Scott Lasensky, UMD Visiting Professor of Israel Studies and Jewish Studies
The tempest over Israel’s travel ban on two congresswomen and the year-long roller coaster of back-to-back elections has unleashed an avalanche of misplaced condemnations and hand-wringing about the health of the country’s democracy. Democratic life in Israel remains remarkably strong and resilient.
For starters, democratic and liberal norms continue to predominate. Voter turnout, contestation, a free press, and other indicators of democratic life and the rule of law are high. Israel’s electoral committee, a key institution, enjoys wide public legitimacy. Moreover, the committee was recently chaired by Salim Joubran, a judge from the Arab sector, reflecting further progress the country has made in overcoming some of its deep-rooted internal cleavages. Read more
As all who attended the Association for Israel Studies conference this past June at Kinnert College now know, the only thing that resulted in unbearable heat was the temperature outdoors, not tempers around the tables. The discussion of “Word Crimes,” the title of the summer issue of Israel Studies, our sister publication, did not cause an irreparable split- or any split at all- in the AIS. Read more
About the internship
The Embassy of Israel to the United States offers intensive and engaging Summer, Fall, and Spring semester internship opportunities at Israel’s political, diplomatic, cultural, and economic home in Washington, DC.
The Embassy of Israel internship program is an excellent opportunity for college and graduate school students to receive valuable insight into U.S.-Israel relations and the nature of diplomacy. Interns also gain access to the greater DC diplomatic community by attending events and functions at the Embassy and around Washington, DC..
Applicants should possess strong interpersonal, communication, and analytical skills as well as administrative abilities. The Embassy also looks for applicants who are detail oriented, write well and are motivated individuals. Applicants with strong computer skills, including experience with graphic design and multimedia editing, are particularly encouraged to apply. Travel experience in Israel and knowledge of Israeli politics, society and culture are preferred.
Fall and spring semester internships at the Embassy are part-time (minimum 12 hours per week); Summer internships are typically full-time. All internships are unpaid, though arrangements can be made for academic credit and a travel stipend.
By Gabriel Weimann, UMD Visiting Professor
Winston Churchill once argued that democracy “is the worst form of government, except for all the others.” The legendary British statesman’s words come to mind as the Israeli people face a seemingly unthinkable political scenario: two national elections in one year.
April’s election resulted in a frustrating dead-end following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s failed attempts to form a government, necessitating new elections in September. This has left both Israeli citizens and observers across the globe dumbfounded.
Featuring GIIS first Grad student, Dr. Noa Balf, who recently graduated in May with her PhD with an emphasis on Political representation; Gender and Politics; Political Parties; Electoral Systems; Democratic Legislatures; Gender and Security. Also featured, UMD Professor Scott Lasensky, who served as a Senior Policy Advisor on Israel, the Middle East and Jewish affairs in the Obama Administration from 2011- 2017, serving in Washington and in Israel.
By Paul Scham, MEI Scholar and Executive Director of GIIS
Through a combination of long-standing personal and ideological feuds and an unlikely concatenation of electoral numbers, Prime Minister Benjamin (“Bibi”) Netanyahu’s electoral victory of April 9 seems to have slipped through his fingers, and new elections will apparently be held in September. Unless something changes by midnight tomorrow (May 29), Netanyahu will lose his mandate to form a government, and no one else appears capable of doing so. There are a number of people or events that could theoretically derail this outcome, but all seem unlikely.
By Gabriel Weimann
In January 2019, Amy Spiro, an Israeli journalist, received a direct message on her Twitter account linking to a sensational news story. The sender, using the Jewish-sounding name “Bina Melamed”, directed her to a fake story falsely alleging former Israeli defense minister Avigdor Lieberman was a Russian spy.
Gabriel Weimann is a Full Professor of Communications at the Department of Communication at Haifa University, Israel and Visiting Professor at the Gildenhorn Institute for Israel Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park.
Social media has changed political language around the world, and Israel is no exception. Peri cites the number of slogans today that use the words koach, otzma and milchama—“power,” “strength” and “war”—as evidence that Israeli political discourse has become more aggressive.
Private and public institutions around the world are jostling to create new collaboration agreements with Israeli research bodies in an effort to mine the country’s scientific excellence and innovation.
Moran Stern, a PhD candidate in Government and Politics at the University of Maryland and adjunct lecturer at the Program for Jewish Civilization in Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, told Sputnik that the emergence of the anti-Netanyahu alliance offered a good alternative to the right-wing bloc being built by Netanyahu.
Head on over to Testudo to register for an Israel Studies course!!
The Israel University Consortium: 16th Israel University Study Tour for Study Abroad Professionals, March 10th – March 19th, 2019
The Israel University Consortium’s Israel University Study Tour (IUST) provides study abroad professionals with the knowledge and insight necessary to effectively study abroad in Israel,while acquainting or reacquainting them with the beauty and vitality of Israel.
The IUST includes full-day visits to each one of the IUC campuses: Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Rothberg International School – The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv University International, Technion International, and the University of Haifa International School.
By Rabbi Avi Shafran
It was the best of times
I had the honor of making two public presentations in recent days, one to second-grade students at the impressive Yeshiva Beth Yehudah in Southfield, Michigan; and the other, to students and members of the public at the University of Maryland.
An analysis written by Moran Stern, a PhD candidate in Government and Politics at the University of Maryland and a graduate fellow in Advanced Israel Studies, featured in Ynetnews.
Analysis: The ordinary Palestinian is not only politically weary, he is also increasingly alienated from his leadership and political institutions as venues to propel a meaningful change in his life. Under such circumstances, responding to Hama’s calls to protest and risk one’s lives by marching towards the border makes little sense.
Director, and Abraham S. and Jack Kay Chair of Israel Studies, Yoram Peri’s new book, “Mediatizing Wars: Power, Paradox and Israel’s Strategic Dilemma” featured in The Jerusalem Post. Peri’s new book, currently available only in Hebrew, examines the strategic challenges that Israel and other liberal democracies face as a result of what he calls the “mediatization” of war zones. Peri’s book is a wake-up call to Israel and other liberal democracies fighting wars.
First appeared in Israel Horizons, no. 2, Nov. 2017
If you follow news concerning Israel, it’s been pretty hard to miss the spate of anniversaries that are being celebrated this year and next. The next one, coming up on Nov. 2, is ‘Balfour Day,’ the date in 1917 on which British foreign Minister Arthur James Balfour sent his famous letter to Lord Rothschild, known forever after as the Balfour Declaration.
Paul Scham is the Executive Director and Research Associate Professor of the Gildenhorn Institute for Israel Studies.
Photos credit: Wikipedia
Hamza Yavuz is a Ph.D. candidate in international relations at Gazi University in Turkey.
Ozge Yavuz is a Ph.D. candidate in the field of international relations and also a research assistant at Gazi University in Turkey.
Director, and Abraham S. and Jack Kay Chair of Israel Studies, Yoram Peri featured in Washington Jewish Week.
Mitchell Bard highlights the University of Maryland’s exceptional Israel Studies program
Academic interest in Israel Studies is growing at a rapid pace throughout China, and Prof. Peri met with a number of scholars and administrators at Chinese universities and institutions.
In commemoration of the 20th anniversary of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination, the Gildenhorn Institute for Israel Studies (GIIS) honors Rabin at its annual Dubin Lecture.
GIIS director Prof. Yoram Peri discussed Israeli viewpoints and national security calculations vis-à-vis the events in Syria at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, DC.