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Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Strategic Alliances for a Secure, Connected, and Prosperous Region

The State of Israel in Its Jubilee Year

Filed under: Israel

No. 393  

The Need for Periodic Reform / The Crisis in Political Leadership / The Constitutional Crisis / The Social Crisis / The Cultural Crisis / The State of the Jewish People

The Need for Periodic Reform

Scriptural law does not designate the Jubilee Year as a time for the celebration of achievements. On the contrary, it is a year of reformative and renewing examination. Mosaic law relates to the passage from bondage to freedom. It is based on justice as a condition for liberation from the rule of man over man and it lays down a just social order based on a constitution that addresses the egotistic limitations of human nature. Stable earthly possessions, abundant material products, and a strong government are the conditions for both personal and collective autonomy as well as moral and cultural integrity. Mosaic law encourages those who aspire to acquire these possessions by means of honest, skilled labor. However, economic success and riches generate power that people tend to crave in order to subjugate and exploit their fellow-humans. As such, they cause moral and cultural corruption, in which the strong dominate the weak and those who have become strong grapple among themselves ceaselessly to gain the advantage of possessions and rule.

The Torah recognizes that law and justice may restrain such tendencies to a degree but cannot prevent them. Even when the law’s formal provisions are upheld, the unequal abilities with which people are endowed will enable the strong to prevail while the weak are deprived of their rights and the just social order is undermined. Therefore, the Torah stipulated a periodic constitutional reform: partial reform every seven years, full reform every fifty years. Its purpose is to set right the distortions that have arisen in the course of a generation by restoring the patrimony of those who have lost their share in the natural bounties that God bestowed on all His creatures so that they can maintain their independent place in the society.

Everyone knows that the Jubilee Year, in which everyone’s patrimony is restored, is a utopian vision, its realization forestalled by selfish human nature. Will the strong, who acquired the possessions of others “lawfully,” voluntarily consent to return them to their original owners? Does any government have the power to coerce the strong, who are its leaders, to take such action against their will? Nevertheless, this utopia is underpinned by a realistic base, which becomes gloomily visible when the ideal is not realized. Historical experience demonstrates that a society that fails to initiate in good time social reforms, even if they be incomplete, which can restore the foundation of solidarity, mutual responsibility, and fundamental agreement among its individual and group components, is doomed to disintegration and destruction. Beset by moral depravity, suppression, and exploitation, that society grows disjointed, and the power that was accumulated by the strong at the expense of the weak becomes a massive obstacle to strong and weak alike.

Observation of the social, constitutional, political, and cultural reality of the State of Israel in its Jubilee Year affirms this historical experience, which indeed has already assumed a trivial character – like the triviality of the fact that its lesson is not learned until after the society has been wracked by powerful shocks that presage ruin. Israel can take pride in great achievements in the realms of demography, settlement, economy, technology, and the military; and its cultural achievements in the sciences, literature, and the arts are also impressive. On the brink of the second millennium Israel is, arguably, close to realizing the vision of political Zionism. It will be home to the majority of the Jewish people and it will possess the physical ability to protect the national interests of the Jewish people and its self-identity, as the developed democracies protect their national interests, if, naturally, the majority of its Jewish residents will want this. However, the festive spirit which Israel’s political leadership has sought to foist on the nation in this Jubilee Year has been reluctant to appear. An oppressive sense of ordinariness, marred by discomfiting power struggles and disputes that often slide into violence, envelops the nation. Against this background, the jingle that was decreed as the festive slogan sounds like the declamation of election propaganda, its truth emerging from its pervasive unintended irony: in no period preceding this Jubilee Year have Israelis been less “together with love, together with pride, together with hope.”

Instead of adducing vain slogans and putting forward a downcast visage, it would be worthy, in this Jubilee Year, to utter the scriptural call, “There shall be examination.” Israel today is in need of a series of reforms that will enable it to rest firmly once more on the foundations of its values, and ready to perform its social and national missions, so that it will be prepared for the tremendous challenges that await it in the third millennium. Only the prospect that such reforms will be implemented by a political, social, and spiritual leadership that knows where it is going and is capable of enlisting national consent and mustering confidence in its skill and in the seriousness of its intentions, can instill in the nation a spirit of faith and hope, and restore the sense of union.

The Crisis in Political Leadership

The polarizing disputes, which increasingly tend toward violence – verbal, political, and physical – in Israeli society, mark the flashpoints of crisis that require reform-oriented examination. They are all channeled into the political debate, since the tools for conducting the country’s internal and external struggles, and for seeking the solution to the problems that provoke them, nowadays lie exclusively in the hands of the political leadership. It will be useful, therefore, to begin by examining the crisis in that sphere.

It can be defined as a structural crisis manifested by functional ineffectuality. Party squabbling and social struggles are ingrained in every political process. If polarized, they are liable to generate a crisis, but as long as they remain within the bounds of the “rules of the game” – the democratic game, in this case – and are waged accordingly, they fulfill a positive function: the presentation of conflicting interests in an effort to balance them and thereby to advance the entire society. A crisis occurs when the political system loses the ability to wage the disputes and struggles according to the rules of the democratic game with the aim of finding compromises that serve the general good. It is expressed in parallel when parties and individuals that crave power are impelled to invest more spiritual and material resources in the endeavor to attain and preserve power than in carrying out the functions of government. Greater importance is attached to holding power as an end in itself than to the substantive considerations that should motivate the implementation of its functions, and in short order this becomes a cardinal factor in setting and pursuing policy. The growing intervention of the High Court of Justice in governmental processes in Israel attests to the depth and gravity of this crisis.

Its roots run deep, but it surfaced after the Six-Day War and reached the peak of its intensity after the Yom Kippur War. The outcome of the Six-Day War constituted a political watershed between moving toward peace with the Palestinians and the Arab states on the basis of territorial compromise, or continuing to actualize the Zionist vision in “Greater Israel.” The ensuing ideological controversy became a lightning rod for the interests of various social strata and for movements representing group identities of parts of the fragmented nation, each of which demanded due respect as well as economic and political status. In this situation, polarization that thrusts toward violence is inevitable, particularly when the stage arrives at which concrete decisions must be made. It did not take long before the political and social struggles began to move dangerously close to violating the democratic rules of the game, and even to breaking the law itself.

Patently, then, the national solidarity that had united the nation around the State of Israel and Israel’s Jewish citizens around the state’s Zionist policy has disintegrated; similarly, acceptance of the centrality of national unity as a condition for the state’s existence has been marginalized. Instead, the highest priority now resides in the parties’ aspirations to define the overall national interest in terms of the particular interests of their constituencies and to impose their definition on everyone else without regard for mutual consideration, balance, or compromise that might salvage unity. What were once national parties representing diverse conceptions of the general good have thus become parties representing interests of the ideological identity and socioeconomic status of specific sectors. Each party seeks to muster the support of a particular social sector in order to secure its share in the government and in return promises to meet all the demands of its voters immediately.

The unavoidable result has been to disrupt the methods for articulating policy in the government and for enacting legislation in the Knesset – acts that are supposed to derive from comprehensive considerations of national and state responsibility. Nor have governments been able to realize their policy properly, due to sectarian pressures they face at every stage of planning and execution. The structural weaknesses of all the components of the political system – parties, Knesset, and government – have thus been exposed for all to see. The structure of the parties and the electoral system in Israel was intended to provide representation at the level of governance for a heterogeneous society that was forged by consecutive mass influxes from a host of different countries to a country where new immigrants outnumbered the veteran society that absorbed them. The party atomization necessitated a coalition form of government and enabled the small parties to play an open game of alternately shifting from the opposition to the ruling coalition and back again, based on considerations stemming from power struggles rather than the pursuit of impartial state policy. As a result, the polarizing disagreements between the parties persisted even after those parties were coopted into the same government, a situation that subverted even more acutely the decision-making process and the subsequent implementation of policy. Finally it became evident that the parties in power were unable to agree on anything other than the desire to remain in power, just as the opposition parties could not agree on anything other than the desire to topple the government. These goals became central even in major political decisions that determined the nation’s fate.

This situation indeed gave rise to a consensus holding that it was essential to reform the electoral processes within the parties and in the Knesset elections, and that it was necessary to find a different method to form the government. The aim was to adopt a system that would enable the parties to represent, through direct elections, the interests of the heterogeneous public, while the prime minister, who would be elected directly and ostensibly without party dependency, would establish a stable government capable of deciding and implementing policy on the basis of comprehensive national considerations. In retrospect, it has emerged that the electoral reform solved nothing. On the contrary, the atomization of the parties continued and the strength of the smaller parties in the Knesset actually increased. True, the prime minister is not dependent on them for his position, but his hands remain tied in terms of setting and executing policy. In other words, he can survive in power even when the government fails to perform its functions, and he needs only to do everything in his power to satisfy the specific interests of his voters in order to ensure his political survival for another term of office.

The underlying premise of the electoral reform was that it would be possible to overcome the structural crisis that was ingrained in the social and cultural processes by introducing technical changes in the form of the elections. This, however, turned out to be an illusion that stemmed from a superficial judgment by politicians who did not probe the deep-seated causes of the crisis; indeed, it can be said that the very fact that they perceived the problem primarily in technical terms reflects a technical conception of leadership that is itself the deep-seated source of the crisis. Be that as it may, the conclusion is that the required reform is not technical but qualitative. It must address the question of the essence of leadership and the means by which it is induced, develops, acquires authority, and reaches its institutionalized status.

An in-depth examination shows that the level at which the crisis occurred, from which it passed to the Knesset and the government, is that of the parties’ interaction with their constituencies. Its gist is the manner in which the parties interconnect with the sources of their strength. What requires examination and reform is the basic process that constitutes the parties, shapes their platforms, and sets the criteria by which the qualifications and qualities of the candidates for political leadership are evaluated. What is the quality and level of the deliberations that are held in the institutions that constitute the parties? What is the quality and level of the messages that they convey insistently to their publics in order to obtain their votes? What do the voters expect of their elected representatives once they are in office? These are the questions that need to be examined if we are serious about effecting a change that will substantively resolve the crisis.

We shall somewhat simplistically distinguish between a political process characterized by ideology and leadership – one that determines party platforms on the basis of moral principles and a comprehensive analysis, and allows the voting public to participate in the process in an institutionalized manner – and a utilitarian political process based on the principles of a market economy, which boil down to a self-interested, competitive “give and take” posture, fundamentally simplistic and materialistic, between leader and voters. Accordingly, a distinction should be drawn between leadership that defines its role in terms of responsibility and the fulfillment of a mission, and leadership that thinks in terms of a successful personal career. Every democratic political system is fraught with tension between these two types of leadership, but the critical question is which type best produces national leadership at its highest level.

Indeed, the political situation that emerged in Israel after the Six-Day War reflects a profound shift not only in the parties’ platforms but principally in the processes of their constitution, in the quality of the messages they convey to the electorate, and in the methods by which their leaders emerge, choose among alternatives, and advance. As a result of a series of ostensibly technical revisions in the methods of operation of all the parties, the syndrome that emerged was one of almost total domination by a process of commercialization along the lines of the competitive market economy. It was portrayed as a boost for democratic representation, and technically it did indeed give that impression. However, in terms of substance and quality, the political process that constitutes the parties was voided of its principled conceptual and moral dimension; in other words, parties were no longer constituted in conjunction with an analysis of reality based on a broad-ranging observation and comprehensive evaluation of the situation, weighing the particularist interest against the general interest, and an examination of the necessary means. Nowadays, the “give and take” that occurs between the parties and its functionaries and between them and the electorate is restricted to defining narrow interests and making use of material incentives. Advertising has supplanted any substantive ideological clarification between the parties and their constituencies, and the messages consist primarily of sloganeering and image promotion, without genuine substance. Even if they are wrapped in an ideological disguise, they ultimately reflect the narrow interests of a particular group.

Pursuing this line, the leadership presents itself to the public not in terms of a mission but in terms of a career that is said to hold out the promise of rewards for all supporters. In some of the (secular) parties this shift entailed the complete ouster of the spiritual, mission-oriented leadership by the political functionaries; and in other (religious) parties it transformed the spiritual – rabbinic – leadership into political functionaries. In both cases the result was nearly identical: leadership of this kind tends to intensify power struggles to promote particularist interests, of itself in government and of its voters in the society, to the very brink where national existence is endangered and in some cases going over the brink, since this is the most effective way to produce concrete achievements in the short term. Here, indeed, lies the terrible danger of this form of leadership: it consumes existing national resources without a thought for future generations.

Thus, the reform that is needed is not technical but qualitative, and, as noted above, it must involve the methods by which the political process between the parties and their electorates is formed and constituted. A conceptual reorientation is required in defining the responsibility that the elected representative bears toward his public and toward the common good, and in the way it is executed. This can be brought about only if it is accepted as a mission by ideological elites, which will regain their position of influence in the parties. It goes without saying that this reform, if left to the initiative of the political functionaries, will not be effected; it requires the willed initiative of the spiritual elites that were marginalized by the functionaries and, having resigned themselves to the situation, abandoned politics in disgust.

The Constitutional Crisis

The constitutional crisis is bound up with the political crisis; the roots of the two crises are identical. The polarization within the nation over the vested interest its large constituent groups have in preserving and promoting their identity is seen in the effort to definitively determine not only ongoing policy goals but also the state’s constitutional image. Upon Israel’s establishment, the Constituent Assembly passed a resolution to draft a constitution that would define Israel’s identity as a Jewish democratic state. Subsequently, it was agreed that the enactment of a constitution would be deferred because of the still unbridgeable conflict between the Orthodox religious parties and the secular parties. Another factor that militated against making immediate constitutional decisions was the difficulty of defining the status of Israel’s Arab citizens because of the state of war that existed between Israel and the Arabs. The assumption was that it would be best if the constitution were to crystallize gradually, little by little, while agreed solutions were found for the contentious issues. However, instead of diminishing, the polarization over the two issues mentioned above intensified the sense of urgency regarding the need for a constitutional decision: first, because the adversarial parties sought to impose their worldviews on one another through legislation, among other methods; and second, because of the growing resort to intervention by the judicial system in political processes where the parties could not reach agreement and tried to impose unilateral decisions on one another.

Here, then, lies the core of the critical dilemma: awareness of the urgent need to institutionalize the state’s constitutional identity aggravated the difficulty of reaching agreement on it, and the dispute rose a notch, to a more principled level. In the previous stage, the actors had acknowledged the tensions between the principles of the democratic regime and the state’s Jewish character, but there was general agreement that those tensions could be assuaged as part of the democratic process; whereas now the dispute revolved around the essence of democracy itself, which had become the ideological identity pattern of the parties on the secular left. Rejecting the concept of national democracy that had shaped Israel’s democratic regime, these parties instead adopted the concept of an individualist liberal democracy that is suited to the social policy of a free-market economy. The argument was then advanced that Jewish national identity is set apart from Israel’s identity as a democratic state not only by tension but also by contradiction.

The crisis is occurring on the political plane of legislation. On the one hand, an effort is underway to complete the passage of the country’s Basic Laws as the consistent application of the principles of individualist liberal democracy. The declared goal is for Israel to consolidate itself as a civil society; in other words, to become a state that differentiates between the determination of its civil identity and the determination of religious and national identities, which are valid only on the sociocultural plane where the state is debarred from intervening, thus national and religious institutions are debarred from intervening in the functioning of the state institutions. However, an effort to thwart the process of legislating Basic Laws is also afoot, by means of enacting private legislation that enshrines elements of Jewish identity in terms of both the place of religious legislation and the rights of Jewish nationhood.

The proposition that a contradiction exists between the state’s Jewish identity and its democratic character is now regarded as an obstacle, the conclusion being that it is necessary to revert to the balanced formulation that is enshrined in the Proclamation of Independence: a democratic Jewish state. However, before this concept can be actualized constitutionally, it must be recognized that there is no uniform model of a democratic regime. Rather, there are universal basic values and principles that each nation applies through patterns of constitution and establishmentarianism and by articulating policy that is suited to its cultural heritage, its conditions of existence, and its essential goals.

The liberal-individualist model that evolved in the United States as the product of American history is entirely unsuited to Israel, which was founded to realize the democratic national right of the Jewish people to independence in order to ensure its survival and the perpetuation of its distinctive identity. Nor is it suited to the country’s Arab citizens, who possess an ardent national consciousness and want to give it cultural, religious, and political expression. Moreover, it must be recognized that in the current reality it is impossible to draw an absolute distinction between the functioning of a democratic state, which is saliently a service-providing entity, and the social, educational, and cultural functions through which cultural and national identities are manifested. A certain differentiation is conceivable between these functions, and indeed we should strive to maximalize it; however, independent national identity must also find expression in the functioning of the state, its constitution, and its policy, particularly if a large portion of the nation to whom the state belongs are not its residents. Where Israel’s Arab citizens are concerned, this means that they can enjoy full civil rights and autonomy in education, culture, and religion, but they will have to find the political expression of their nationality not within Israel but in the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside it.

Finally, it must be recognized that a democratic regime does not have the purpose of eliminating the tensions that arise from the cohabitation of people with different worldviews and different national and religious identities. The only way to exorcise such tensions is by suppressing the full expression of the religious and national forms of identity to which their adherents ascribe supreme value. Indeed, the task of a democracy is to enable the coexistence of the different forms of identity on a common ground of principles despite the tensions between them, and thus transform them from a militant confrontation into an association based on dialogue. What is required, then, is the creative crystallization of a pluralistic democracy both in terms of giving expression to the different conceptions of identity within Judaism and also in terms of the relationship between the Jewish majority that founded Israel as its state and the national and religious minorities that reside in the country.

The Social Crisis

From here we turn to the social crisis. Its origin lies in the mass immigration from various lands, whose numbers exceeded the veteran society that absorbed them in Israel. The inevitable tensions between new arrivals and longtime residents, the suffering entailed in uprooting oneself from one’s native land and in the effort at integration in the new country, the cultural heterogeneity and the unavoidable friction between different cultures in the course of the endeavor to find a common denominator and develop a common cultural language, all put Israel’s national and social solidarity to a grave test. In retrospect, it is clear that the identity of some groups was suppressed while others suffered discrimination, and there were also some who succeeded in imposing their identity on others and thereby undermined it by corruption.

In the wake of the achievements of the Six-Day War, some disadvantaged social groups succeeded in rehabilitating their self-identity and obtaining their rightful socioeconomic and political status. Yet this process, although positive in itself, was also one of the initial factors that deepened the political, social, and cultural-identity dispute between religious and secular, between left and right, and between the established, veteran population and the groups that had only just begun to establish themselves and continued to feel economic, political, and sociocultural deprivation.

Compounding these developments was a far-reaching change in Israel’s socioeconomic policy. The socialist policy that had sought to bring into being a “welfare state” in Israel’s first years now changed into a policy based on a competitive, capitalist market economy. In short order the socialist approach was erased and with it the vestiges of the social structures that had represented the common ideals of the previous period: the moshavmovement, the Histadrut federation of labor, and the kibbutz movement. The radical revision of socioeconomic policy transformed the gaps between veteran residents and new immigrants, and between immigrants from different countries of origin who had different levels of professional training, into gaps between rich and poor, or between “the strong,” who could cope successfully in the competition to achieve a high standard of living, and “the weak,” who had no chance of success. The gaps widened apace, intensified the competitiveness in Israeli society, undermined the remnants of the policy of solidarity in education, and destroyed the basis of the aspiration for social justice on which Israel’s national solidarity had rested in the country’s first years.

It is important to note another aspect of this process. Israeli society was largely traditional in character, particularly as regards its family-community patterns of organization. The socialist worldview that was dominant in the Yishuv (the prestate Jewish community in Palestine) and in the new state’s early period also reinforced the community pattern as the ideal one; whereas the social morality that is arising on the competitive foundations of the market economy is discarding the traditional social pattern and disassembling it down to the level of the family cell, without offering any alternative. The result is to intensify feelings of alienation, solitariness, and frustration. Such feelings exist, in different forms, at every social level, rich and poor alike, and they are driving up the level of violence in social relations. Israel’s citizens, now conditioned to selfish competition, seem to want to compensate themselves for the loss of the feelings of belonging, family, and friendship by pursuing achievement-driven consumption-and-status values.

Patently, then, a major reform is called for in the social realm. This will entail refurbishing the infrastructure of social solidarity, ensuring an appropriate, egalitarian level of services for all social strata, particularly in health and education, guaranteeing the right to work and commensurate wages at a level that permits a decent existence, narrowing the gaps between rich and poor, restoring the criterion of justice in the division of basic subsistence resources, and allowing and encouraging the development of a communitarian society that gives expression to a shared spiritual life and a creative popular culture built on these foundations.

The Cultural Crisis

The cultural crisis in Israel reflects the social crisis, and both have identical roots: first, the clash between the different conceptions of Jewish identity – religious and secular – that can be traced to the crisis of secularization in the modern era; second, the estrangement between the cultures of the immigrants who arrived from different countries of origin; and third, the inequality that emerged in the process of absorption in Israel, which caused relations of suppression and domineering, particularly between the ensconced, integrating culture and the newly arrived cultures. These tensions stifled the potential emergence of a unifying cultural language that could draw on common historical sources and a common mission, and gave rise to feelings of anger and enmity. Likewise, the rehabilitation of the cultural identities of immigrant groups that had suffered discrimination in the absorption process generated the aggressive release of feelings of rage and bitterness toward the integrating society and its culture. The effect was to heighten estrangement, aggravate prejudices, and reinforce mutual alienation.

The cultural crisis was compounded by the change in socioeconomic policy. A direct manifestation of this was the sharp shift that occurred in the perception of school education at all its stages. The basic approach – that the purpose of education is to inculcate the community’s heritage in order to effect comprehensive cultural socialization, belonging, a fully formed self-identity, and a worldview that directs the individual’s affinities toward the common good – was supplanted by the view that the role of school education is to “transfer” information and skills that will promote professional training and thus improve the prospects of success in the competitive effort that drives the market of life. The effect is to efficiently convey the competitive messages of the market economy morality, which are absorbed together with the shallow, consumerist, commercialized mass culture that urges the satisfaction of stimuli, the release of passions, having a good time, and entertainment.

The selfish, materialist morality of the competitive market economy, driven by extreme individualism and a penchant for gratifying consumerist stimuli, dealt a severe blow to the underlying patterns of the traditional popular culture, which is based on feelings of affiliation, self-expression, and an affinity for the communal heritage, whether perceived through a religious, national, or humanist prism. Arguably, all the patterns of the culture – traditional, national, and humanistic – that developed in Israel have been vitiated by the cultural morality imported from the United States, which is portrayed by the media as the culture of the “global village” and is driven by crude carnal allure and broad media dissemination, and tends to blur distinctiveness and self-identity.

Lest there be any misunderstanding, it should be emphasized that this conclusion does not ignore Israel’s achievements in the realm of high culture: in the sciences, technology, literature, and the arts. The deep wound is at the level of popular culture, family and community culture, and particularly at the stratum of the culture of the adolescent years. We are witnessing the exchange of the popular, unifying culture for an alienated, instinctual mass culture that has far-reaching negative implications for the processes of young people’s socialization within the family and the community, and for the growth of personality as this involves morality and the enrichment of spiritual life. Its effect is to void the spirituality that confers meaning on the individual’s life and to override this with manipulative instinctual drives that heighten unbridled competition and violence for its own sake. From the point of view of the development of the personality, the inevitable result is a feeling of “existential emptiness,” while from the point of view of the collective identity and the anchoring of the individual personality within it, this is a form of nullification that is worse than assimilation, signifying the exchange of one collective identity for another.

The State of the Jewish People

We have not yet addressed the question of Israel’s character as the state of the entire Jewish people – in other words, the question of Israel’s relations with the Jewish diaspora, which are also in deep crisis. The diaspora is growing more remote from Israel and Israel is growing more remote from the diaspora. This is not the place to analyze the underlying reasons for that development, but it is clear that its paramount cause is the increasing remoteness from the core of cultural self-identity in both Israel and the diaspora. Now that the period of the Jewish people’s material consolidation after the Holocaust has concluded, Israel can maintain its centrality only by functioning as a “spiritual center” both for itself and for the diaspora. However, it can assume that role only if it produces an autonomous culture that draws on the fullness of the Jewish sources and is receptive to the finest creations of the general culture. From the point of view of realizing the Zionist mission, this is currently Israel’s paramount obligation to the whole nation, and its achievement entails the renewal of education as the process of inculcating the popular heritage and renewing the original creation of Jewish folk culture.

Summing up, it is clear that the renewal of education and spiritual creation is an essential prior condition for social, constitutional, and political renewal: it is all intertwined. The deep spiritual needs of individuals and the deep spiritual needs of the nation converge and imbibe from the same source: having returned to their earthly and political dominion, the Jews need to return to their spiritual dominion. This depends on them alone, and this clarion call to them can signal jubilation.

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Professor Eliezer Schweid, Vice President and Fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, received the Israel Prize in 1994 for his contributions to Jewish thought. He is the author of numerous books on medieval and modern Jewish philosophy, Hebrew literature, Zionism, and current affairs, including Wrestling Until Day-Break: Searching for Meaning in the Thinking on the Holocaust (1994), Democracy and Halakhah (1994), and Cycle of the Jewish Year (forthcoming), all co-published with JCPA.