In recent years, the Breaking the Silence organization has released a
series of publications that expose a database of IDF soldier
testimonies from their service in Judea and Samara, as well as the
various Gaza operations. Based on these testimonies, Breaking the
Silence has concluded that the IDF is in a moral and ethical decline.
This decline, they explain, is the direct result of the continuous
existence of the “occupation” policy.
In light of the organization’s statements about a systematic moral
deterioration of the military system, we have conducted research in
which we have carefully examined 100 of the total testimonies
presented by BTS – according to select criteria: incident time and
location, military layout, described damage type, context, etc., in
order to deeply examine BTS’ testimonies and the validity of their
The research suggests that there is no correlation between BTS’ claims
and the conclusions suggested by their presented testimonies. Our
research indicates several fundamental problems that impair the
validity of BTS’ conclusions regarding the IDF’s warfare practices and
its routine conduct with civilians
Total Fertility Trends in Israel:Total Fertility Trends in Israel: How did the Demographic Time Bomb become a Demographic Miracle? Summary Researchers and policy makers periodically air the claim that the Arab population between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean is growing at a rate double to that of the Jewish population, a fact that will, in the near future, lead to the negation of the Jewish majority. This concern, known as the “demographic time bomb”, stands at the heart of a dispute among different demographists and arouses an intense argument in Israeli academic and public discourse. The objective of this paper is to construct an accurate picture of the demographic reality in Israel and to assess the true dimensions of the demographic threat.As is well known, two mechanisms determine the size of a population: life expectancy at different ages and the rate of fertility. In this paper, we examined the trend of the total fertility rate among population groups living in Israel according to nationality, religion and different settlement regions over a range of periods. Furthermore, we compared this trend with the development of the total worldwide fertility rate and of the populations of different countries in the Middle East. An analysis of the data gathered revealed both trends of growth among the Jewish and Arab populations during the last 60 years and expectations for the future. A summary of the main findings is presented below:
• At the beginning of the 21st century, a turnaround was registered in the fertility level of the Jewish population: Total Jewish fertility had previously declined for 45 years, from the beginning of the 1960s until the end of the century. Until 1995, the total fertility rate among Jews in Israel was the lowest of all Middle Eastern countries and significantly lower than the total fertility rate among the Arab population living in Israel. However, the total Jewish fertility rate began to rise rapidly from 2001, reaching 3.16 children per woman in 2016. This figure was higher than the total fertility rate in 10 of the 15 Middle Eastern countries surveyed and higher than the total fertility rate of the Arab population in Israel, Judea and Samaria, and Gaza. In only 4 countries in the Middle East – Iraq (4.06), Yemen (3.77), Egypt (3.30), Jordan (3.18) and in the Gaza Strip (3.91 or 4.30 depending on the estimation of the US Census Bureau) – was the total Arab fertility rate higher than that of the Jews in Israel.
• The last decade’s demographic figures for the population of Israel indicate a continued increase in total fertility among Jews and a constant decline among the Arabs, in all Israel’s administrative districts. In contrast to the trend of a sharp increase in Jewish fertility in Israel, during the last 56 months, the total fertility of Israel’s Arab population declined by 61.1%, from 7.99 children per woman in 1960 to 3.11 in 2016. Among Sabras (native born Israelis), who constitute 76.3% of the country’s total Jewish population, the total fertility is even higher – 3.25 children per woman. An examination of the demographic figures of Israel’s population according to ethnic origin and religion reveals that in 2016, the difference between total fertility of Israeli Muslims and that of the Sabras had narrowed to only 0.04 children.
• The turnaround in total fertility among Jews and Arabs occurred as a result of changes in the trends of births among these two populations. In only the last 16 years, the number of births among Jews increased by 47.2% compared to an increase of just 7.5% among Arabs. If in 2001, 2.18 Jewish babies were born for every Arab baby, in 2017 this figure had increased to 3.1 Jewish babies, a difference of 42.2%.• Until 2005, total Jewish fertility was the lowest in all of Israel’s administrative districts. In 2016 however, total Arab fertility was higher than that of the Jewish population only in the Central and Southern Districts. Furthermore, if in 2005, the total Arab fertility in the Central District was higher by 2.29 children per woman, in 2016 the difference was only 0.28 children per woman.
• The difference between the total fertility rate among the Jewish and Arab populations, has narrowed in the last 18 years from 7.28 children per woman in 1998 to 2.25 children per woman in 2016. If the current 17-year declining trend in total fertility among the Arab population in the Southern District continues, it may draw level with that of the Jewish population by the mid-2020s.
• The total fertility rate of the 399,300 Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria in 2016 stood at 4.98 children per woman and was only 0.47 lower than that of the 250,800 Arbs living on the Southern District.
• Estimates of the US Census Bureau (USCB) even indicate a constant trend of decline in total fertility among the Arabs of the Palestinian Authority. Until mid-2017, the USCB estimate for 2016 indicated a total fertility rate of 2.71 children per woman among the Arab population of Judea and Samaria and 3.91 children per woman among Gazan Arabs. In an updated estimate issued in mid-2017, the USCB amended the 2016 figures to 3.33 children per woman for Judea and Samaria and 4.30 for the Gaza Strip. However, even according to this estimate, the total fertility among the Arab population in Judea and Samaria declined by 58.1% within 40 years from a peak of 7.95 children per woman in 1976. Furthermore, the total fertility rate among the Arab population in Gaza declined by 47.1% in only 25 years, from 8.13 children per woman in 1991. This trend indicates that the decline in total fertility among the Arabs of Judea, Samaria and Gaza was sharper than that registered among Israel’s Arab population.
• According to the new USCB estimates, the total fertility among the Arab population of Judea and Samaria is expected to decline to 3.14 children per woman in 2019 and to 2.14 in 2050. According to the same study, the total fertility rate in the Gaza Strip will reach 3.14 children per woman in 2025 and 2.12 in the year 2050.
In summary, not only do the fertility figures presented above not support the concern of a “demographic time bomb”, they in reality testify to a demographic turnaround in favor of the Jewish population resulting from an increase in the total fertility rate. This increase is expected to continue into the future, even if at a slower rate.
On July 20 2016, the Knesset passed the final approval of “The Expulsion Law” according to which, a serving Member of the Knesset may be removed from his position if three quarters of the Knesset Committee members determine that he has incited to racism or expressed support for an armed struggle against the State of Israel. This law has aroused protests among many members of the Opposition and certain organizations such as Adalah (The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel) that present themselves as being concerned for the rights of Israel’s minorities. According to them, the law constitutes a mortal blow to the values of democracy. They further claim that its sole purpose is to expel Arab Knesset members.
In order to attempt and resolve the issue, we have chosen to study the state of affairs in countries possessing characteristics and regimes similar to those of Israel i.e., democratic nation states. Accordingly, the study presented below examined limitations imposed on political parties and on members of parliament in twelve democratic states, members of the OECD. The study surveyed the existence and actual implementation of legal preventative measures that restrict the foundation or registration of political parties seeking to participate in elections, and also retroactive steps including disassembly or disqualification of a party after its foundation, and suspension or expulsion of a serving member of parliament.
This publication constitutes a complementary study to two relevant studies on the subject published by the Knesset Research and Information Center (hereinafter: RIC) that were conducted in 2006 and 2016 and that, among others, is based on their findings.
This study reveals a clear picture:
Not a single country granted its citizens the full and unrestricted right to vote and be elected.
A combination of the findings of our study with those of the RIC from 2006 and 2016 reveals that:
A summary conclusion of the three studies reveals the existence of substantial limitations on political activity (mainly of political parties), of differing levels of severity, while making use of a range of legal and constitutional procedures. A comparative view of the existing arrangements in the different countries suggests that the “Expulsion Law” represents a unique version in relation to parallel laws around the world. Nevertheless, when considering the Supreme Court’s practical disregard for the existing legislation, and given the restrictive and stringent circumstances regarding its activation, it serves as a legitimate (and some would say, even necessary) defense mechanism for creating a fitting balance between freedom of expression and stability of the democratic regime.
 Jonathan Lis, After Stormy Debate Knesset Approves Law Allowing Ouster of Lawmakers, Ha’aretz, July 20, 2016. https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.731962
One of the common claims raised against the State of Israel, in various contexts, is that its national symbols – the flag, emblem and anthem – are perse discriminatory vis-à-vis minorities living in Israel and specifically, the Arab minority. The particularly Jewish characteristics present in the national anthem, flag and official emblem arouse the objection of certain sectors of the Israeli public and of organizations such as ‘Adalah’ (The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel) that present themselves as dedicated to minority rights in Israel.
In an attempt to resolve this issue, we decided to conduct a study comparing the situation in Israel to that in countries with similar characteristics – nation states that are full democracies, and so recognized by the international community. To that end, the study referred to below examined the use of national emblems in 32 democratic developed countries, members of the OECD, similar to Israel. The comparison was made with regards to the national flags, anthems and emblems of these countries.
The findings reveal a clear fact: The overwhelming majority of the countries examined make use of national emblems that express the religious, ethnic or national heritage of its founding communities. Some of the main findings are summarized below:
This study examines the laws of commerce and employment on the official day of rest in most of the developed countries around the world :
1. Rest Days: In the overwhelming majority of developed countries, most of the citizens work Monday-Friday while Saturday and Sunday serve as rest days. In general however, countries do not set Saturday as an official day of rest, and only some countries declare Sunday as a rest day.
2. The Scope of Restrictions: While most Western European countries have various restrictions on commercial activity on the rest day, in the majority of countries in North America, Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, East Asia and Oceania there are no such significant restrictions.
The most distinctive finding arising from the study is a global trend of decline in restrictions on commercial activity on rest days. This trend began in the 1970’s, intensified during the 1990’s, and reached its peak in recent years in Europe with the reduction of restrictions on commerce on the day of rest in Italy, Spain, France, Greece, Portugal, Finland, the Netherlands and Denmark although some of these countries still maintain significant restrictions. In practice, South Korea is the only country in which restrictions were increased in recent years. Nonetheless, even today there are still a considerable number of countries – such as Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany and Norway – in which almost no commercial activity is permitted on the rest day.
3. Types of Restrictions: There are a number of different types of restrictions on trade activity on rest days: Total restriction on commerce with vut s few exceptions; the designation of a number of Sundays on which commercial activity is permitted; the granting of decision-making powers to local government; the restriction of the activity of businesses of a certain size (measured by area); the imposition of restrictions or the granting of exceptions to certain sectors.
4. The Public Discussion: The central groups supporting restrictions on commercial activity on rest days are generally trade unions and small business owners interested in instituting Sunday as an official rest day. In addition, religious groups such as the Catholic and other Churches have an interest in devoting Sunday to church attendance and other religious activity. On the other hand, the support for removing restrictions on commercial activity on the rest day is usually provided by consumer groups interested in utilizing it for shopping and other consumer activity. In addition, they argue that denying them this possibility constitutes an infringement of their individual liberty. Other supporters of lifting restrictions claim that doing so will serve to strengthen the economy.
5. Labor Laws: Many countries have legislated laws that determine that an employee may be employed on the official rest day only with his/her freely given consent, and that refusal to so work cannot be grounds for non-employment or for termination of employment. In most countries, the employer is obligated to allow a substitute day of rest and 53% of the countries examined in the study (23 out of 43) have instituted a salary increment of between 50%-100% to be added to the regular salary for working (voluntarily) on Sundays.
Since its inception in July 2005, the BDS movement has sought to promote boycotts, divestment and sanctions against the State of Israel with the objective of delegitimizing its existence as a Jewish state. A significant part of the BDS movement’s strategy is the transformation of Israel into an international pariah nation by means of its portrayal as an apartheid state deliberately and institutionally discriminating against its Arab citizens.
Perversely, one of the bodies contributing to this propaganda is actually an Israeli organization, ‘Adalah – the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel’. Adalah is persistent in claiming that the State of Israel promotes a discriminatory policy against its Arab citizens.
This report surveys in detail the list of laws published on the Adalah website as discriminatory, and examines the validity of the organization’s claims regarding the existence of discrimination against Israeli Arab citizens. The report’s findings reveal that Adalah elects to adopt a strategy of distorting reality with deliberately biased presentations in order to defame Israel as guilty of enforcing dozens of discriminatory
The findings of this report, presented in detail in the summary chapter, clearly demonstrate that for a variety of reasons, the claims promoted by Adalah are, in essence, fundamentally groundless:
1. The overwhelming majority of the laws featured in the list (53 out of 57) do not even relate to the citizens’ ethnic origins and those that do, are designed to prevent and avoid discrimination. For example, the Law and Administration Ordinance (1948) that defines the country’s official rest days, and the Law for Using the Hebrew Date, both explicitly exclude institutions and authorities that serve non-Jewish populations for whom the law provides for definitions and procedures appropriate for their specific needs.
2. In 21 cases, Adalah’s claims of discrimination stem from the organization’s extremist stance that rejects the nature of Israel as a nation state in general and as the nation state of of the Jewish people in particular. For example, the Yad BenZvi Law is defined as a discriminatory law because of the institution’s objective of promoting Zionist ideals.
3. 18 of the laws reflect customs in other Western democracies whose democratic character no one would disparage. For example, according to Adalah, the flag constitutes a discriminatory law. Needless to say, this unfounded reasoning would mean that any country, the flag of which bears a cross or crescent discriminates against its non-Christian or non-Muslim minorities. A more in-depth comparison
between the laws frequently found that Israeli legislation is actually characterized by a higher degree of tolerance for its national minorities.
4. In at least 13 cases, a large disparity exists between the explicit content of the laws and the biased (and sometimes warped) interpretation accorded to them by Adalah. In some instances the claimed discrimination is difficult to identify. For example, the Golan Heights Law is considered discriminatory due to its objective of “according a legal basis for the implementation of Israeli law on the territory of
the Golan Heights conquered by Israel”. It would seem that only Adalah is capable of explaining a law intended to grant equal rights to all residents of the Golan Heights as being discriminatory.
5. 8 laws are intended to protect the security of all Israeli citizens regardless of religion, race or gender. Included in these laws are a number of legislative amendments to the Criminal Procedure Law and the Prisons Ordinance aimed at assisting the security forces in preventing terror attacks. These laws adversely affect only those clearly suspected of engaging in terror activity without distinguishing between Jews and Arabs. In effect, this very claim is woefully discriminatory because it presumes that Arab citizens of Israel are generally hostile and prone to terror activities.
6. 7 of the laws do not even relate to Israel’s Arab citizens but rather to those noncitizen individuals towards whom the State is not obligated to act with equality.
The absurdity in Adalah’s approach can be demonstrated by the example of the Trading with the Enemy Act (a law evolving from British Mandatory law) being included in the list of discriminatory laws because “the countries declared as such (Iran, Syria and Lebanon) are Arab and/or Muslim states”. Presumably the law could be remedied by adding other, non-Muslim and non-Arab enemy states.
7. In the case of some of the laws mentioned in the list, the supposed discrimination in question actually affected the Jewish majority and not the Arab minority. For example, Clause 7a of the Basic Law: the Knesset, the objective of which is to prevent the candidacy of political parties acting against the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, has been implemented only against Jewish parties on grounds of anti-democratic objectives. Similarly, amendments to the Absorption of Discharged Soldiers Law are indicted by Adalah for discriminating in favor of Jewish citizens, but these citizens are the ones specifically obligated to serve three years of military service for sub-minimum compensation and living conditions, thus postponing their university education and professional advancement. It is the Arab citizen who enjoys the option of exemption from military service altogether or alternatively, of volunteering for national civil service which does not place them in harms way but which
nevertheless affords them the same benefits awarded to discharged soldiers.
8. In a number of cases, Adalah misuses objective crime statistics to claim discrimination. According to this logic, if members of the Arab sector of the population are the main criminal violators of a certain law, then that particular law perforce is deemed racist. This could apply to laws against theft of property,
against sex crimes or against driving through red lights. The constructive and proper solution, to disproportionate violations is not annulment of necessary laws, of course, but rather, educating and encouraging observance of the law among all sectors of the population-without distinction or favoritism.
Fundamentally, an in-depth examination of the so-called “discriminatory” laws listed by Adalah demonstrates that the laws promoting Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people do not discriminate against its Arab citizens or diminish their civil rights. Rather, they assist in promoting Israel as a more Jewish and a more democratic state striving for the welfare of all its citizens. Any reasonable and fair comparison of Israel’s laws with those of the overwhelming number of other democratic states constituting nation states of majority ethnic groups would conclude that Israel is a model for promoting the democratic rights of all of its citizens.
The phenomenon of non-citizen foreigners living inIsrael has gained widespread recognition because of the infiltrations on the Israeli southern border. Even so, it seems that the public discourse is deficient and is often influenced by manipulation and incomplete data. The purpose of this document is to summarize and organize the primary data and opinions on this topic and serve as a basis for a serious, productive discussion leading to policy. This document will not propose such policy; it will only present the facts and opinions of the various parties to the public discourse. Effort has been made to present the widest set of facts and a variety of opinions and their roots, with no attempt to reach a conclusion.
The document refers to three main groups of non-citizen foreigners in Israel:
1. Infiltrators: Foreigners who have illegally entered Israel on the Egyptian border and who were caught at the border or within the country.
2. Foreign workers: This group is sub-divided in two – foreign workers with valid work permits and foreign workers who entered Israel with valid work permits which have since expired.
3. Tourists without valid permits: Foreigners from underdeveloped countries who entered Israel as tourists and stayed without valid permits. It is thought that most of them work illegally.
The document shows that according to official statistics there are currently some 55,000 infiltrators in Israel and another 93,000 tourists without valid permits. There is debate about the number of foreign workers: the Population and Immigration Authority claims there are some 85,000 foreign workers in Israel while the Central Bureau of Statistics has the group at 110,000 strong.
The infiltrators have come almost entirely from African nations and the absolute majority is male: 85% of this group are adult males and the rest women and children. In contrast, the tourists without valid permits and the foreign workers are mainly citizens of Asiatic and Eastern European countries, evenly divided in terms of gender: some 52% are male and 48% female.
Beyond the statistics about non-citizen foreigners, this document presents the current arguments in Israeli discourse. The document presents the legal, moral, criminal, and medical basis of the public debate over the infiltrators and their absorption. Amongst the claims discussed: Is Israel obligated by the UN Charter to consider the infiltrators refugees? Is the crime rate amongst the infiltrators higher than normal? Do they represent a security threat? Do they represent a medical threat to the rest of the population? The document also presents the various claims about the economic impact of foreign workers and the question of whether their employment leads to unemployment for Israelis. Public discourse does not include any reference to tourists without valid permits, so the various claims about this group’s status are not presented here.