Research Papers

Article 17, September 2017

A Morphology of Cultural Transformation: The Campaign to Save Israel’s Wildflower and its Spatial Impacts
Benny Furst

In September 1998 the Standards Institute of Israel awarded its National Quality and Excellence Prize to the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) and the Israel Nature Reserves Authority (INRA) in acknowledgement of their wildflower protection project, which began in the 1960s. This was official public recognition of the joint campaign led by the two organizations to save Israel’s wildflowers, which was one of the most significant educational successes since the establishment of the State. To understand the power of this transformation and its significance, one must first understand the social conditions that preceded it, that is, wildflower picking as a long-standing cultural norm.


Article 16, January 2017

Education in Israel: Divided Society, Divided Schools
Laurence Wolff

Israel ranks among the highest in the world in the percentage of the population with academic degrees per capita (46% of 25-64 year olds).


Article 15, December 2015

Israelis’ Perception of the IDF: A Split Between it as an Armed Force and as a Public Institution
Meytal Eran Jona

The paper attempts to shed light on Israel’s trust in the military based on public opinion surveys conducted over the last decade. Our findings illuminate the complexity of the Israeli-Jewish public perception of the IDF. We identify a split between public perceptions of the military as an armed force and its perception of it as a public institution. These two different perceptions co-exist in public opinion, and do not necessarily influence each other. The findings warrant our assertion that public trust in the IDF continued to be high and positive throughout the decade, despite widespread criticism of various aspects of its functioning as a public organizations.


Article 14, January 2015

Moshe Kahlon and the Politics of the Mizrahi Middle Class in Israel
Nissim Leon

Election polls in Israel reveal the great electoral potential of the new “Kulanu” (“All of Us”) list, just formed by former Likud Knesset Member Moshe Kahlon. Some polls predict seven seats for him in the next Knesset; others put the number as high as eleven. Either way, this high-profile party is reminiscent of the appearance of Yesh Atid (“There is a Future”) , which emerged ahead of the 2013 general elections to become the second-largest party in the current Knesset. The same scenario may or may not repeat itself this time, but what is clear is that the Kulanu list offers another angle on the mapping of the forces of change that are at work in contemporary Israeli society, first and foremost among them the politics of the country’s increasingly diverse middle class.


Article 13, July 2015

The Reform Movement in Israel: Past, Present, and Future
Laurence Wolff

The Reform movement in Israel is growing, with more Israelis turning to it as a viable option to both Orthodoxy and secularism, and with an increasing impact on public discourse. But the story of the movement’s experience in Israel has not been well told. The paper seeks to meet that need. It places the movement in a larger context, reviews its history and current status, and summarizes the challenges it and similar groups are facing.


Article 12, January 2014

Narrating Pasts and Futures in Jerusalem’s Visual Signs.
Dana Hercbergs

This paper analyzes representations of Jerusalem—its history, neighborhoods and communities—found in street signs and plaques in the urban landscape. Narratives of place are always politically inflected. The contemporary visual and textual portrayals of Jerusalem considered here index core issues that are linked to transformative periods in Israel’s history: the 1948 War, Mizrahi immigration and inter-ethnic struggle, and the recent rise of ethno-nationalism buttressed by forces of globalization. Considered together, the selected inscriptions reveal a tension between justifying and undermining Israeli claims to Jerusalem and by extension, upholding and critiquing hierarchies in Israeli society.


Article 11, January 2014

Learning Assessments in Israel’s Schools: Beyond Controversy and Towards Best Practice
Laurence Wolff

This report seeks to put these controversies in context both within Israel and internationally. It summarizes Israel’s experience with its national assessments, the Meitsav, reviews what actually happened to account for Israel’s recent improvement in international tests, and discusses issues related to the Bagrut. It comments on recent policy changes and discusses how to incorporate best practice worldwide in educational assessments into Israel’s education system.


Article 10, November 2013

Fear and Conflict Resolution: Theoretical Discussion and a Case Study from Israel
Nimrod Rosler

Focusing on the possible roles of fear in the context of intractable conflicts, I suggest that fear can serve both as a barrier and as a motivating factor in conflict resolution in general, and in the Israeli-Palestinian case specifically. After elaborating the dominant psycho-political characteristics and implications of fear, the conceptual portion of the article explores the conditions and factors which differentiate between the potential roles of fear in conflict resolution. The empirical section focuses on the use of fear as a barrier and as a motivating factor in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the political discourse in Israel. The research is based on qualitative content analysis of public documents of the principal political programs and on interviews with senior representatives of the programs that were conducted during the formative years of the Disengagement Plan, 2003-2004. Conclusions are drawn regarding emotional appeals, political persuasion, and their social consequences in the Israeli case and in violent and protracted conflict generally.


Article 9, September 2012

Israel’s War Against Smoking
Robert Rockaway

Illness caused by smoking has become a worldwide problem, and governments, assisted by the World Health Organization, have conducted campaigns to lessen the health risks to their country’s population. This research illustrates the efforts undertaken by the State of Israel since its founding to make its citizens aware of the problem posed to their health from smoking. The Israeli print media and the health insurance sick funds publicized the latest research on the issue, while Israeli governments and non-governmental bodies, especially the Israel Cancer Association, employed legislation, varieties of educational programs, and advertising campaigns to increase public awareness of the danger to their health from smoking. These efforts had an impact and smoking by Israelis declined. However, recent surveys show that 20 percent of the population continues to smoke.


Article 8, May 2012

Education in Israel: The Challenges Ahead
Laurence Wolff

This paper is directed towards those living outside Israel who wish to understand the educational challenges that Israel faces. It describes and seeks to explain reasons for the mediocre performance of Israel’s primary and secondary schools as well as the problems brought about by the division of schooling into four highly separate sub-systems. It reviews recent initiatives by the government to improve education, from the point of view of international best practice. The paper argues that Israel needs to do more to improve education, through articulating clear goals, ensuring more equitable distribution of resources, recruiting teachers with high knowledge and competence, utilizing assessment results, building bridges between the separate systems, and building consensus among stakeholders.


Article 7, April 2012

“Think Global – Act Local”: A Descriptive Analysis of Environmental Protest Organization – The Case of Greenpeace Israel
Benny Furst

This article presents a field-work based description of an Israeli environmental organization- Greenpeace Israel, focusing on its social structure and political-culture function. Being one of the leading brand-names in the 20th century history of environmentalism, Greenpeace has a dual identity since it has a major affect inside the Israeli environmental movement as well. This research presents a three levels observation: the individual, the organization and the state. The three findings from the interviews of the activists, the leaders of the organization and the decision makers in the political arena are analyzed according to leading theories from the social movements in general and environmental activism in particular. The Findings indicate that Greenpeace main arena is the media, and its strategy is based on non-violent direct action (NVDA) tactics. In addition to that, and in the cultural aspect, Greenpeace functions as a local revitalization group, by posting major issues on the environmentalpolitical agenda of the Israeli society. EMO’s, Environmentalism, GreenPeace, Israeli environmentalism, non-violent-direct-action, NGO’s, revitalization group, sustainability.


Article 6, October 2011

Nationalism between Land and Environment: The Conflict between “Oranges” and “Greens” Over Settling in the East Lakhish Area
Liron Shani

Critical studies of Israel are mostly concerned with presenting the colonialist aspects of the various settlement enterprises in the open frontier both beyond and within the “Green Line,” i.e., the 1949 ceasefire line1 (Peled and Shafir 2002; Kedar and Yiftachel 2006; Shafir 1989). Yet in Israel there are also conflicts over settlement activity with different ideas about nature, economic development, and the shaping of space. In this article I would like to focus on one struggle of this second kind: an environmental struggle that revolves around settlement issues. By examining the development of new Jewish settlements inside the Green Line, I hope to contribute to our understanding of the notion of the frontier by adding, in addition to its national, military, and cultural significance, a further environmental significance.


Article 5, June 2011

Shas and the Peace Process: Leadership, Society, and Politics
Nissim Leon

The position of Shas toward the Arab-Israeli peace process is based on the moderate approach of its spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, but is also influenced by the Israeli political reality. This attitude is used strategically by the party to position itself within Israel’s governing bodies, which serves Shas in its desire to achieve independence and political influence, as well as to establish an religious infrastructure within Mizrachi (stemming primarily from the Middle East and North Africa) Jewish communities and create a “society of learners”.


Article 4, May 2011

A Self-Portrait of Israeli Journalists: Characteristics, Values, and Attitudes
Oren Meyers & Jonathan Cohen

This study investigated the self-portrait of Israeli journalists in terms of their
demographic characteristics, perceptions of public status, and views regarding professional issues. Findings from a survey completed by 333 respondents suggest that Israeli journalists are satisfied with and plan to continue working in their profession, which they perceive to be relatively well-respected. They consider print, radio, or television to be highest status news media, followed by online, and, finally, work for local and sectorial newspapers. While respondents believe they are generally free to publish news and data gathered, those covering social issues felt more restraints on their work than those focusing on economic matters. These findings are related to similar surveys conducted in other countries, as well as with Israeli journalists in the past.


Article 3, April, 2010

Ex-Soviets in the Israeli Political Space: Values, Attitudes, and Electoral Behavior
Michael Philippov

Approximately one million ex-Soviet immigrants have settled in Israel since 1989, with the majority arriving from 1989 to 1995. This “Russian” immigration was noted for its high human capital, as a large proportion had college degrees and training in a variety of technicaland professional fields, and the value of education and professional success was an important component of their worldview and culture. Most belonged to the middle class and had resided in large cities in the European portion of the Soviet Union. However, the demographic character changed as the immigrants who arrived in Israel since 2000 were more provincial and less Jewish.


Article 2, March, 2010

The Presidentialization of Politics: The Power and Constraints of the Israeli Prime Minister 
Dan Korn

In presidential systems the offices of head of state and head of government are merged
institutionally and held by a single incumbent. Parliamentary democracies, on the other hand, are characterized by a ‘double-headed’ executive. A prime minister serves as the ‘political executive’ and a monarch or a president serves as the country’s head of state – the ‘constitutional executive’.


Article 1, January, 2010

Disenchanted Love: The Emergence of Antipolitical Sentiment in Israel
Tamar Hermann | The Open University of Israel and the Israel Democracy Institute

Israeli society, and in particular its Jewish element, has long been recognized for its high political awareness, knowledge and involvement. This salient “political quality” has manifested itself in many ways: high voter turnout, impressive party membership, strong party identification, and the general public’s non-stop effort to keep abreast of the political news.

Furthermore, compared to most other liberal democracies, the average Israeli held and apparently still holds strong political opinions, which, it should be noted, are quite stable, presumably because they closely correlate with individual socio-demographic and socio-political characteristics.