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Panelists consider problems, progress of Israeli society

Posted on December 3, 2013 | by Ann Schmidt



The NYU School of Law hosted three prestigious Israeli leaders for the Center on Law and Security’s panel Israel, From the Inside Out. The panel, which was moderated by Leon Wieseltier, the literary editor at The New Republic, included three panelists — retired Chief Justice Dorit Beinisch, Council on Foreign Relations Distinguished Fellow Stanley Fischer and NYU Law professor Moshe Halbertal. Beinisch, Fischer and Halbertal discussed their experiences and thoughts on current issues within Israel.

Zach Goldman, executive director of the Center on Law and Security, said the purpose of the event was to better understand the domestic politics of Israel.

“The Middle East strategic picture has been changing rapidly in the last weeks and months,” Goldman said. “And the strategic orientation of Israel is a key component of those shifts in the public discussion of those issues.”

Fischer, who was also the former governor of the Bank of Israel and a former top official at both the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, spoke about the current economic status of Israel.

“If you’re a macroeconomist, which I am, [Israel’s economy] is a significant success story for a country with a per capita about two-thirds of the United States,” Fischer said.

Fischer also talked about some of the current problems with Israel’s society in terms of its demographics, growing economic inequality and increased property value.

“All these problems are interrelated,” Fischer said. “And they relate to the education system and how it’s structured.”

Beinisch, the president of the Supreme Court of Israel from 2006 to 2012, explained how she views the judiciary branch in the Israeli government.

“The role of the court in a democratic society is to protect the rights,” Beinisch said. “It is an independent judicial system. It is an apolitical judicial system.”

Beinisch said these apolitical qualities help maintain democracy and justice in the complex Israeli society.

“Our courts have the power to be so important and relevant in our society because we have so many problems because of the composition of our society,” Beinisch said.

Halbertal said the various groups of people in Israel understand the necessity for an agreement, but the lack of trust among them could hinder the process.

“This is a complex problem,” Halbertal said. “This will have an impact on the very identity of the state.”

Laurent Wiesel, 36, said he found the panelists’ discussion about the sense of detachment in the lives of the Israelis and the large political issues to be important subjects.

“Politically, if Israeli people are not motivated in some way to change the status quo, then, in a functioning democracy, there wouldn’t be the kind of pressure on the politicians to make the big decisions that most people understand need to be made,” Wiesel said.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Dec. 3 print edition. Ann Schmidt is a staff writer. Email her at


Tatiana Baez

Assistant Managing Editor | A CAS junior, Tatiana is studying journalism, environmental science and politics. She’s a bomb editor, as well as the staff’s main source of entertainment because she sings along to every song after 12 a.m. She also writes about culture, science, technology and sex, and her work has been featured in VICE, Motherboard, Elite Daily, amNewYork and others. She enjoys eating Thai food, reading fiction and binge-watching Netflix.

And in case you were wondering how great she really is — “I just can’t get enough of Tatiana” is a direct quote from her EIC at WSN only moments ago.

Ann Schmidt

News Editor | Ann is a liberal studies sophomore who lived in Florence during her freshman year. She plans on double-majoring in journalism and political science and is always busy. She is constantly making lists and she loves to laugh.


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Daniel started at the Features desk of WSN last Spring, writing restaurant reviews whilst indulging on free food and consequently getting fat. Last Fall, he was the dining editor, and he this semester he is senior editor. Daniel is in Gallatin (living the dream) studying Food & Travel Narratives, incorporating aspects of Food Studies, Journalism, and Media, Culture, and Communication. He loves food more than life itself.

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Deputy Multimedia Editor | Hannah Luu is a ridiculously great Deputy Multimedia Editor. She is a sophomore from Northern California. If you think Northern California means San Francisco you might need to closely examine a map. She is passionate about NPR and being half Asian.

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