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Comparative Politics


Coalition politics determines who holds positions of power. ... Bureaucratic politics the most time-consuming and demanding, though largely behind the scenes. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Comparative Politics

Comparative Politics
  • The State of Israel
  • Six Days War
  • Occupied Territories
  • The Palestinian Authority
  • PoliSci Department
  • SUNY _at_ Stony Brook
  • POL 103 (Section 2)
  • Spring 2005
  • Instructor Udi Sommer

Politics in Israel An Overview
  • Premiership
  • Presidency
  • Cabinet
  • Elections
  • Knesset (4 years, PR, entire country)
  • Judiciary (independent, secular, religious)

Politics in Israel An Overviewthe Legal System
  • Knesset Laws and British Ordinances
  • Constitutional review in the lack of a
  • Basic laws
  • Declaration of independence

Political conditions
  • Parties
  • Labour Zionism
  • Revisionist Zionism
  • Religious Zionism
  • Not Zionist
  • 1948 1977 Labour Hegemony
  • 1977 Likud
  • Since 1977 National Unity, Likud, Labour

Political conditions
  • 1992 Rabin wins national elections
  • 1995 assassination of Rabin
  • 1995 Peres (Labour)
  • 1996 Netanyahu (Likud)
  • 1999 Barak (New Labour)
  • 2001, 2003 Sharon (Likud, National Unity)

Israel The 2nd Republic
  • Last 15 years
  • Accommodation with neighbours
  • Change in political system
  • Economy less centralized
  • Immigration from Soviet Union

3 Periods in the History of Israel
  • 1948 1967independence and consolidation
  • 1967 19926 Days War and its consequences
  • 1993 presentnew constitutional rules, new
    issues, accommodation with Palestinians, new

Shifts and Changes
  • Several peace processes
  • Direct elections of PM
  • Primary elections in the parties
  • Economy
  • Immigration
  • However Terror, political assassination,
    decline of Knesset, rise of the Supreme Court as
    the High Court of Justice

Economic Changes
  • Booming economy in certain periods
  • Larger gap between the rich and the poor
  • Handful of dominant economic players instead of

Demographic changes
  • Immigration from the former Soviet Union
  • Immigration from Ethiopia
  • Palestinian workers
  • Foreign workers (Thailand, Ghana etc.)

Changes in political reality and culture
  • Collective ethos replaced by individualism
  • Choice options (education, entertainment etc.)
  • Health care as a national service
  • IDF changing
  • Secularism AND religiousness

Ballpark numbers
  • From a population of 780,000, it increased by
    2004 to nearly 7 million. There were 130,000
    students at independence, compared with close to
    2 millions at present. There were 700 university
    students before the War of Independence in 1948,
    of which a third were killed in the war. At
    present there are over 100,000. Exports in 1950
    amounted to 35 million, and to more than 65
    billion at present.

Ballpark numbers
  • In 1948, less than 6 percent of the Jews of the
    world lived in Israel, in 1995 more than a third
    did. The percentage of the population with
    thirteen years or more of formal education jumped
    from 9 percent in 1960 to 27 percent in 1993. One
    percent of the population lived in housing with
    three or more persons per room in 1993, compared
    with 21 percent in 1960 40 percent of the
    population lived in housing with one or fewer
    persons per room in 1993, compared with 7 percent
    in 1960.

Ballpark numbers
  • Israel's gross national product rose from 2.5
    billion in 1960 to 104 billion in 2004. the
    number of tourists arriving jumped from 110,000
    in 1960 to 1.8 million in 1993. private cars in
    Israel increased in that same period from 24,000
    to almost 1 million, telephone subscribers from
    68,000 to 1.8 million, air passengers from
    223,000 to 4.5 million. (Arian, 1998)

Democratic In form? In practice?
  • A comparative perspective
  • Domination of MAPAI
  • Relations between ethnic, religious, and language
  • Curbing inflation and unemployment
  • Institutional arrangement separate elections of
    parliament and PM

Democratic In form? In practice?
  • A comparative perspective
  • Scarce resources
  • Centralization
  • Sector parties
  • Balance of power in the hands of small parties
  • Legitimacy, identity, integration, political

  • A system is legitimate when its decisions are
    generally and widely accepted as just and proper
    by major groups in the system.
  • In the Israeli case legitimacy before
  • The religious challenge
  • Orthodox religious and anti-Zionist
  • Messianic ideologies

  • 2 competing bodies of law
  • The problem is with legitimacy rather than
  • e.g. contentious issue of the Occupied
    Territories circumventing legitimate
    governmental decisions using a referendum

  • State as a central element in the identity of
    individuals in modern world
  • The Zionist idea and the role of Israel
  • A Jewish Democratic state
  • Being a Jew / an Israeli
  • Political implications (distribution among voters)

  • Seemingly no contradiction between being a Jew
    and being an Israeli
  • Hebrew
  • School curriculum
  • Holy days
  • Hebrew calendar
  • A continuum with 2 poles Ultra-Orthodox and

3 crucial issues
  • The first is the meaning of a Jewish State
  • The second is the role of the State of Israel for
    Jews who do not live in Israel.
  • The Third is the relation to the state of
    non-Jews living in Israel.

Meaning of a Jewish State
  • Meaning of Jewish State
  • Institutionalization in the life of the state
  • Freedom of religion or freedom from religion
  • How Israel dealt with it
  • Status Quo
  • Monopoly of Orthodox Judaism

Role of Israel for Jews who do not live in Israel
  • Every Jew is potentially a citizen
  • Law of Return
  • Close relationship
  • Israel as a refuge
  • Pride, concern, anxiety for Israel
  • A question of loyalty (?)

The dilemma of non-Jewish citizens
  • Loyalty to Israel
  • Arab nationalism
  • Do not serve in the army
  • Identity -- ? --
  • Israeli /
  • Arab /
  • Muslim /
  • Christian /
  • Palestinian
  • Pattern is much more complex

  • Zionism founded in Europe
  • Settlements in Palestine-Erez Israel start in
    19th century
  • But European Jewry produces leaders with not
    enough followers
  • After independence large scale immigration from
    Arab countries
  • The roles of Ashkenazim and Sepharadim

  • Mass waves of immigration from the Soviet Union
    change the balance again
  • Israeli born leadership (?)
  • The case of Shas
  • Territorial integration the case of the
    Occupied Territories (bi-national state, a
    Jewish state?)

Political culture
  • 2 givens
  • National security
  • Welfare state
  • Changes (IDF, Occupied Territories, party
    politics, hegemony, competitiveness,

Politically hierarchical
  • Hierarchy in several aspects
  • Powerful PM and cabinet
  • Powerless opposition
  • Subordinate role of junior coalition partners
  • Importance of leaders and leadership
  • Appropriations and appointments
  • Works well with economic structure
    (government control, 2/3 employed, government
    directly influences economic substance)

Ideological spectrum
  • Everything is ideological
  • Politicians might shift their ideological
  • Parlance is ideological
  • A mix of ideology and pragmatism

Political culture the politician
  • Little prestige
  • 3 spheres of political activity
  • Electoral politics
  • Coalitional politics
  • Bureaucratic politics

Spheres of political activity
  • Electoral highly consequential, during
    campaigns and around the year
  • Coalition politics determines who holds
    positions of power. Too much pressure might cause
    the coalition to crumble
  • Bureaucratic politics the most time-consuming
    and demanding, though largely behind the scenes.
    Position within the organization

Themes in modern Israeli politics
  • Can the rule of law be maintained when many have
    intense and conflicting views of the appropriate
    sources of legitimacy in the system?
  • Can pluralism and tolerance be fostered when
    religious and nationalist passions contradict?
  • How do you forge into a single nation citizens
    from various ethnic backgrounds and belonging to
    different religions?
  • What is the meaning of participatory democracy
    when technological innovations atomize society
    and individualism is rampant?
  • How are the branches of government to be balanced
    so that abuses of power will be checked and
    individual liberties maintained?
  • What is the meaning of parliamentary democracy
    when political parties are in serious decline?
  • How can public needs be met by a profit-driven
  • What is the role of the nation-state, and the
    responsibility of the welfare state, in a period
    of globalization and open borders and markets?

The 1967 Six Days War and the Occupation
  • A watershed event in history of Israel, Palestine
    and the entire Middle East
  • Sequence of events (UN forces removed, Straits of
    Tiran, Jordanian-Egyptian pact)
  • Assessment of Israeli intelligence
  • Diplomacys role
  • Public pressure leads to National Unity
  • In hindsight Nassers intentions are not at all

Israeli conception
  • Little territory
  • Minute in size (5 miles wide)
  • Fear of simultaneous battles in various fronts.
  • Original Israeli plan
  • Changing plan as the war evolves
  • Stages in the war

The occupation
  • Leaders are not ready to decide on the future of
    the Occupied Territories
  • 1st reaction a great relief
  • Peace for Land formula is established
  • No mention of the West Bank in governmental
  • Consensus on Jerusalem

Various positions with respect to the Occupied
  • Future of the territory should be negotiated with
    the Palestinians (Golda Meir no Palestinian
  • Future of the territory should be negotiated with
  • Territory should be permanently kept in Israeli
  • Sources of Israeli conception of the occupation
    and its justifications

Stages of the occupation
  • 1967 early 1970s Israeli control is
  • 1977 late 1980s radical change in policy with
    the election of Begin
  • Early 1990s peace process following the first
    Intifada is followed by the Second Intifada

Middle East Peace Process
  • Gulf War
  • Madrid (1991)
  • Declaration of Principles (1993)
  • Authority transfer (1994)
  • Peace with Jordan (1994)
  • Interim agreement (1995)
  • Rabin assassinated (1995)
  • Second Intifada (2001)
  • Sharon the Gaza Strip (2004, 2005)