Podcast: Peter Berkowitz and Gadi Taub on the Deeper Causes of Israel's Internal Conflict

An American political scientist and an Israeli media personality talk about the cleavages in Israeli society that have made the present debate over judicial reform so intense.

Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images.

Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images.

March 10 2023
About the authors

Peter Berkowitz is the Tad and Dianne Taube Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. In 2019 and 2020, he served as Director of Policy Planning at the U.S. State Department. His writings are posted at www.PeterBerkowitz.com.

Gadi Taub is a historian, novelist, political commentator, and screenwriter. He is a senior lecturer at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

A weekly podcast, produced in partnership with the Tikvah Fund, offering up the best thinking on Jewish thought and culture.

Podcast: Peter Berkowitz and Gadi Taub
To understand the dramas, disagreements, and protests roiling Israeli politics at this moment requires an understanding of the government’s proposed judicial reforms, as well as the history of Israel’s Supreme Court and its relationship to the Knesset. It also requires knowledge of Israeli society, and how the founding generations of Israel’s political leadership—which tended to be Ashkenazi, secular, and oriented to the political left—have given way to an Israeli population that tends to be more ethnically diverse, more traditional and religious, and oriented towards the political right.

That history, in turn, has got to be mapped onto the fact that Israel is also home to subcommunities that each have different historical relations to one another and to the government, and that is each pursuing different interests and outcomes. To understand this Israeli moment, in other words, requires understanding how each Israeli sector—Arab, ḥaredi, secular, national religious—relates to the nation as a whole.

This week, Jonathan Silver discusses the judicial reforms and those deeper causes together with the professor, media personality, and author Gadi Taub, as well as the political scientist and former State Department official Peter Berkowitz.

Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble.

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli Supreme Court