Democracies face legal and moral dilemmas in their attempt to balance between securing national interests and protecting personal liberties at the same time. At the IZS, we seek to address this challenge by gaining a better understanding of the application of legal norms and practices from a global perspective.
Is a law which stipulates that immunizations are a prerequisite for receiving child benefit payments acceptable in a democratic society? This question has been the subject of an argument about Israeli immunization policy in recent years.
The main opposition to the law comes from Adalah – the Arab-Israeli human rights organization – which appealed to the High Court of Justice against the law. According to Adalah, the law discriminates against the Bedouin and other Arab communities who do not vaccinate themselves due to lack of access to medical services. Moreover, there are those who claim that the law limits parents’ autonomy to decide what is best for their children and to object to vaccinations on religious or ideological grounds.
The study investigated these claims in depth and examined whether the Israeli policy is consistent with the principles of a democratic society. The study presents, among others, a historical survey of the development of immunizations and related laws, the different motives for objecting to immunizations, and a comparison between the Israeli immunization policy and that of 23 countries included in the OECD. Among the countries surveyed are the US, Australia, Germany, Turkey, Sweden, and many others. Read More
This study, conducted in conjunction with the ‘National Vision’ movement, surveys a large number of democratic nation-states and shows the connection between their national anthem, flag and emblem, and the nationality of their founding community. The study proves that the attempts to present Israel as an apartheid state, are wholly unfounded.
We thank the team that conducted the study: Noa Lazimi (you can listen to Noa’s interview with Michael Miro here – [Hebrew]), Almog Turgeman, Omer Arica and Adi Arbel. An article about the study can be read here (Hebrew).
Written by: Almog Turgeman, Editor: Noa Lazimi and Adi Arbel, Research Assistance: Omer Aricha
One of the common claims raised against the State of Israel, in various contexts, is that its national symbols – the flag, emblem and anthem – possess a discriminatory nature vis-à-vis the 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 and of organizations such as ‘Adalah’ (The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel) that present themselves as concerned and striving for minority rights in Israel. The ‘Adalah’ organization surpassed itself and even defined the “Flag and Emblem Law”, adopted by the Knesset in 1949 and expanded in 2004 to include the national anthem, as discriminatory.
In an attempt to resolve this issue, we decided to conduct a study comparing the situation in Israel to that in countries with similar regimes and characteristics – nation states that advocate the principles of democracy. 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 an unequivocal picture: The overwhelming majority of the countries examined make use of national emblems that express the religious, ethnic or national heritage of its founders.
Some of the main findings are summarized below:
- 30 of 32 countries are not homogeneous with regards to religion i.e. the dominant religious group does not comprise more than 90% of the population. Only 13% of the countries examined are ethnically homogeneous.
- In 28 of 32 countries, the national anthem includes words that bear a religious, national or ethnic nature.
- In 26 of 32 countries, the national emblem contains a religious or national affinity. In 11 cases, the emblem contains a cross or a crescent.
- In 25 of the 32 countries, the national flag includes religious elements affiliated with the founder’s nationality, religion or historical homeland. In 11 cases, the flag contains a cross or a crescent.
These findings clearly prove that the State of Israel is not exceptional in its selection of national symbols. In practice, Israel’s use of symbols drawn from Jewish history and heritage constitutes an expression of a long-standing universal tradition devoid of any basis for the claim of discrimination or exclusion of the minorities living in Israel.
By Dr. Yoaz Hendel and Nicolas Touboul
For several years discussions have been held about different propositions for government resolutions and legislation to improve the benefits granted to citizens who have served in the army or the civilian national service. These proposals include exemption from taxes, preferences for acceptance to student dorms in institutes for higher education, and preferences or benefits relating to allocation of land for housing. In their essence, the proposals entail the basic proposition that it is proper and just-and non-discriminatory- to provide public benefits in return for past contributions to the society and State. The benefits would provide preference in hiring, in wages, and in various state services offered.
On the one hand, the supporters of these propositions feel that the current situation discriminates against those who have dedicated years of their lives to the State. The current level of remuneration shows disregard and demeans the service. It is also manifestly unfair and discriminatory to fail to compensate those who were mandated to serve while others were not. Critics of the proposals claim that rewarding army service and national service discriminates against the Arab and Chareidi populations who are exempt from service. Compensation for service should be made during service and not afterwards, they argue.
This comparative analysis establishes that post-service benefits are common in the Western world. Most of the democratic countries which were examined maintain some system of benefits for those who protect the country within an army framework. In terms of the types of benefits, differences could be found in the determination of who benefits (soldiers, veterans, their families) and in the form of benefit (employment, education, and various other benefits). Read More