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Neubauer-Shani, Michal. “Tackling the Challenge of Liberal Democracy in Israel: The Role of Political Scientists in the Civic Studies Debate.” European Political Science, June 10, 2021.


Recent trends suggest that liberal democracy in Israel experiences tensions. Although such a crisis calls for the involvement of political scientists in this public debate, the bulk of political scientists has refrained from visible activity. The exception to this rule is the civic studies arena in which a small group of political scientists is deeply and visibly engaged. Civic education, which Israel integrates into the civic studies subject, is a central political socialization tool. As a deep controversy rages in Israel regarding the meaning of the “democratic” and the “Jewish” components of the state’s identity, civic studies arouse strong emotions. This arena enables political scientists, who are divided into the liberal and the conservative camps, to remain out of the limelight of the general public debate about the illiberal turn, while at the same time engaging heavily in its shaping. The civic studies issue constitutes an example of how collective engagement of political scientists on specific policy issues, may constitute an opportunity for these scholars, their visibility and enhance to therefore, their social relevance. A qualitative analysis of the case study of civic studies in Israel demonstrates the various ways of involvement employed by political scientists in the illiberal turn debate.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.