The fourth Israeli Presidential Conference Facing Tomorrow 2012, under the auspices of the President Shimon Peres, took place in Jerusalem, June 19-21, 2012
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Judaism and Democracy: Complementary or Conflicting Values?

Date: Wednesday, June 20, 11:30 - 13:00
Location: Oren 4 Hall

The Declaration of Independence defined Israel as a Jewish state that will ensure the "absolute equality of social and political rights to all its citizens regardless of the their religion, race or sex; and guaranteed freedom of religion, conscience, language, education, and culture." In this spirit, the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty (1992) established the character of the State of Israel as a "Jewish and democratic" state. But are the concepts of "Jewish" and "democracy" complementary values or do they sometimes stand in contradiction? Against this background, how does Israeli society choose to act when faced with tensions between Jews and Arabs; religious and secular; or men and women? What are the future tests that will challenge us on this issue? Will we be able to take the high road that will preserve Israel as a Jewish and democratic state?




Professor Menahem Ben Sasson, Israel: President, Professor of Jewish History, former Rector, former Director, Ben-Zvi Institute, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem;  former Member of Knesset (Kadima Party); former Chair, Committee for Constitution, Law and Justice; Member, Executive Committee, Society for Judeo-Arabic Studies; Member, Executive and Education Committees, Yad Vashem; former President, World Union for Jewish Studies. Author: Uncovering the Canon: Studies in Canonicity and Genizah(Hebrew, 2010). Recipient: Feher Prize for Jewish History; Ben-Zvi Prize for the Study of Jewish Heritage.




Mrs. Adina Bar Shalom, Israel: Founder and CEO, Chairperson, Board of Directors, Haredi College of Jerusalem; Board Member, Yachad Council; Board Member, Bar-Ilan University; Board Member, The Jerusalem Business Development Center; Member, Association for the Advancement of Education.


Professor Irwin Cotler, Canada: Member of Parliament; Emeritus Professor of Law, McGill University; former Minister of Justice; former Attorney General of Canada; Vice-Chair, Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, Subcommittee on International Human Rights; Justice and Human Rights Critic, Liberal Party.


Dr. Micah Goodman, Israel: Director, Ein Prat – The Academy for Leadership; Lecturer (Jewish Thought), The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Senior Research Fellow, Shalom Hartman Institute. Author: The Secrets of the Guide to the Perplexed (2010).


Mr. Natan Sharansky, Israel: Chairman, Jewish Agency for Israel; former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister; former Chairman, Beth Hatefutsoth, the Jewish Diaspora Museum, One Jerusalem; Founder,Yisrael B'Aliyah political party; former Chairman, Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies, Shalem Center; former Associate Editor, The Jerusalem Report; Co-founder, Peace Watch. Author: Fear No Evil(1988), The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Freedom and Terror (2004), Defending Identity, Its Indispensable Role in Protecting Democracy (2008). Recipient: Congressional Gold Medal; Presidential Medal of Freedom. 


Mr. David 'Dudi' Zilbershlag, Israel: Publisher, Bekehila Newspaper; Founder, Meir Panim-Koach Latet; Member, Board of Directors, Radio Kol Chai; Member, Directorate, Yad Vashem. Recipient: 2002 Globes Community Service Award.


The panel will be simultaneously translated into Hebrew and English.

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