Is Israel a Dying Democracy?

Like many of today's democracies, the Israeli political system is in trouble. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been in power since 2009 and shows no signs of relinquishing it. He worked to immunize himself from prosecution on serious corruption charges, packed the courts with allied judges, and suborned previously neutral institutions. Despite a September 2019 election widely seen as a defeat for his party, he may yet be able to retain power — and even if he doesn't, it's not clear another government would be willing or even capable of stopping the country's illiberal drift.

The goal of this project is to try to understand the nature of Israel's illiberal, undemocratic transformation. Zack Beauchamp traveled there to understand why the country has gone in the direction it has — the degree to which it's similar to the slide towards authoritarianism in former democracies like Hungary and the extent to which it's linked to Israel-specific factors. Beauchamp also wanted to understand just how threatened Israeli democracy is, and whether it can come back from the brink.

In parallel, there's a rising defense of a kind of illiberal conservative nationalism in Israeli right-wing scholarly circles — one that's being exported to the United States. Another focus of the trip is understanding what the ideas here are and the extent to which it's gaining influence internationally.

The War on Israeli Democracy

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has attacked the foundations of democracy. If he wins his 2020 reelection bid, things could get a lot worse.