The Israeli Conservatism Conference Presented a New Vision for the Jewish State’s Continued Flourishing

June 6, 2019 | Simona Weinglass
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In Jerusalem on May 16, the Tikvah Fund sponsored the first Israeli Conservatism Conference. Bringing together more than 700 people, it featured speeches and panel discussions about how to create a conservative politics in a Jewish state dedicated to strong security policies alongside the preservation of the family, the free market, and the rule of law. Simona Weinglass, in her report on the conference, sums up the comments of two of its participants:

Gadi Taub, a historian and self-described former leftist, . . . said that [currently Israel’s] left is “an intellectual wasteland. It’s so repetitive and monotonous.” The right, [by contrast], “has colleges, a publishing house, think tanks, newspapers, television shows, social media, and an abundance of persuasive ideas. The vitality is on the right and people will be attracted to it. That’s why I’m so optimistic.”

Taub said he was not afraid to speak his mind because he has tenure at Hebrew University. . . . “I am in two departments and there is one Likudnik in the combined faculty [of both], out of 40 people. It makes no sense.” Taub said the best way to confront [what he sees as a pervasive and repressive] atmosphere of political correctness is to speak one’s mind without caring.

“It’s so amazing to sit with 700 people and speak about Burke, Toqueville, and Hayek,” Professor Moshe Koppel, chairman of the Kohelet Policy Forum, exclaimed from the podium, adding, “Until now you’ve heard a lot of theory. My job is to speak about reality.” Since its founding seven years ago, Kohelet has been trying to pass laws related to economic freedom, Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, and governance, Koppel said.

“Governance is a euphemism,” he clarified. “What we mean is dismantling centers of power that are unelected and that use the power of the state to coerce their worldview.”

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