Fellows Daniel Statman and Cain Shelley brought philosophical and political science perspectives to bear on the recent protests
For some six months now, the Israeli population has been protesting against the government’s planned judicial reform, which threatens the very foundations of the country’s democratic government. The overwhelming participation in the ongoing protests gave Daniel Statman, professor of philosophy at the University of Haifa, the idea of initiating an evening of discussion at the Kolleg. Professor Statman began by explaining the background to the protests in the respective positions of the government and the protestors. He and Cain Shelley, a fellow at the Forschungskolleg working on political activism and questions of social justice at the Justitia Center for Advanced Studies, made the following points regarding the protests:
1. According to Daniel Statman, the protests were directed not least against the steadily increasing power of an ultra-orthodox and in parts far-right minority in Israel. Does this mean that the protests can be understood as expressing the crisis of liberal democracies in the present?
2. Although the protests are non-violent, protestors have repeatedly gathered for demonstrations outside the private residences of government politicians, taking the protests into their private spheres. What are the limits of legitimate protest in a democracy?
3. The protests have brought together large sections of the population in a single movement. This means that debates over other divisive issues—notably Israeli settlement policy—have been put aside for the duration. But can a protest succeed if it ignores conflicts that are potentially dangerous to peaceful coexistence within a liberal democracy?
There followed a discussion, in which guests and other fellows of the Forschungskolleg sought to apply this conceptual framework to understanding and contextualizing current events in Israel.
A small victory for the protestors, followed by a disappointment
A detailed account of the discussion (in German)
(FKH - 11.07.2023)
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