Building Democracy on Sand: Israel without a Constitution

Building Democracy on Sand: Israel without a Constitution

by Arye Carmon

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Overview

More than seven decades after the founding of Israel, the momentum to establish a Jewish state has led to remarkable achievements in the nation’s “hardware”: stable structures in government, the military, and the economy. At the same time, the “operating system,” the guidelines that accommodate human diversity and enable coexistence, is still riddled with weaknesses.

Arye Carmon diagnoses the critical vulnerabilities at the heart of Israeli democracy and the obstacles to forming a sustainable national consciousness. The author merges touching narratives about his own life in Israel with insightful ruminations on the Jewish diaspora and the arc of Israel’s history, illuminating the conflicts between Jewish identities and between democratic values and the halacha—the collective body of Jewish religious laws.

There is no consensus on the characteristics that define Israel as a state that is both Jewish and democratic. Rather, the struggle between a secular and a religious Jewish identity, amid voices promoting ethnocentric nationalism, threatens to sever the ties that strengthen democracy.

This cultural fragility has far-reaching implications for Israeli institutions and deepens societal rifts. Israel lacks a constitution to bind its democracy and a bill of rights to safeguard the freedoms of its citizens, enable the inclusion of diverse outlooks and beliefs, and underpin the norms of its civil society.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780817923150
Publisher: Hoover Institution Press
Publication date: 12/01/2019
Edition description: None
Pages: 280
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Arye Carmon is the founding president of the Israel Democracy Institute, Jerusalem, a distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and the author of several books on Israeli political reform, including Without a Constitution, an Israel Tale (2013).

Table of Contents

Foreword George P. Shultz ix

Author's Note to the English-Language Edition xiii

Introduction 1

Part 1 The Challenges of Sovereignty

1 Between Reason and Faith: Preliminary Notes 13

2 Diasporic Nation and Territorial Nations 33

3 The Zionist Deficit 41

4 "Negation of the Exile": Stumbling Block to Acculturation 49

5 The Gordian Knot: Religion and Nationhood 85

6 The Transition from Sovereignty-in-the-Making to Sovereignty 93

7 Ben-Gurionist Statism 105

8 The Ethos of Survival 121

9 The Centrality of Death in Israel 131

Part 2 The Religious Counterrevolution

10 The Interaction between Governance and Religion 149

11 Diverse Characteristics of the Counterrevolution in Religious Zionism 163

12 The Counterrevolution in the Chronological Mirror 185

Finale as a Prelude 233

Acknowledgments 241

Notes 243

About the Author 253

Index 255

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