Israel: A Fragile Democracy?
Jonathan Freedland, Natasha Hausdorff, Anthony Julius, Simon Schama
Chair: Julia Neuberger
The opening weeks of this year saw 80,000 Israelis take to the streets of Tel Aviv, protesting the new government’s proposed sweeping changes to the judicial system. Supreme Court president Esther Hayut denounced the move, calling it a “plan to crush the justice system”, with opposition leader Yair Lapid pledging to stand by her side “in the struggle for the soul of the country”. Not everyone agrees, however: a recent Newsweek op-ed sought to brush off the controversial move as “much ado about nothing”. As Israel’s politics become ever more polarized, we ask what lies ahead with rabbi and crossbench peer Julia Neuberger, historian Simon Schama, senior lawyer Anthony Julius, lawyer and former clerk for the President of the Supreme Court of Israel Natasha Hausdorff, and journalist Jonathan Freedland.
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Jonathan Freedland is an award-winning journalist, author and broadcaster. He writes a weekly column for The Guardian and is the presenter of BBC Radio 4’s contemporary history series The Long View as well as the co-host (with the Israeli journalist Yonit Levi) of Unholy, a weekly podcast. He has written twelve books, the latest of which is The Escape Artist: the Man Who Broke Out of Auschwitz to Warn the World.
Natasha Hausdorff is a barrister at Six Pump Court Chambers, and a frequent speaker on International Law. She clerked for the late Chief Justice Miriam Naor, President of Israel's Supreme Court and was a Fellow at Columbia Law School's National Security Law Program. Natasha read law at Oxford University, qualified as a solicitor at Skadden, and subsequently gained an LLM from Tel Aviv University, specialising in public international law. Natasha serves as legal director of UK Lawyers For Israel Charitable Trust.
Anthony Julius is a lawyer, academic and author. His books include Trials of the Diaspora: A History of Anti-Semitism in England. He is known among other things for his actions on behalf of Diana, Princess of Wales, and Deborah Lipstadt. He is deputy chairman of the London law firm Mishcon de Reya and holds the chair in Law and Arts in the Faculty of Laws at University College London. He is currently writing a book on Abraham, in the Yale Jewish Lives series.
Sir Simon Schama, CBE is University Professor of Art History and History at Columbia University and a Contributing Editor of the Financial Times. He is the author of nineteen books and the writer-presenter of fifty documentaries on art, history and literature for BBC2. His art criticism for The New Yorker won the National Magazine Award for criticism in 1996; his film on Bernini from The Power of Art won an Emmy in 2007 and his series on British history and The American Future: a History, Broadcast Critics Guild awards. He won the NCR non-fiction prize for Citizens, National Book Critics Circle award for Rough Crossings, the WH Smith Literary Award for Landscape and Memory. In 2015 he received the Premio Antonio Feltrinelli in historical sciences from the Accademia nazionale dei Lincei in Rome. His The Story of the Jews: Finding the Words was published in 2015 and the second volume Belonging in 2017. In the autumn of 2016, The Face of Britain, a history of British portraiture appeared as a five-part BBC television series; a book and an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. In 2018, Civilizations, a nine-part BBC television series on world art, of which he wrote and presented five. In May 2019, Wordy: Sounding off on high art, low appetite and the power of memory, was published, and in the spring of 2021 his BBC series The Romantic and Us was aired. At present, he is working on Foreing Bodies, his twentieth publication, and in a new BBC series titled Brave New World. Image cr. Charlie Bibby
The Jewish Chronicle
Rabbi Baroness Julia Neuberger DBE is Chair of University College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Chair of The Whittington Hospital NHS Trust. She was Senior Rabbi of the West London Synagogue from 2011 until March 2020 and is now Rabbi Emerita. She is a cross bench Peer in the House of Lords, former CEO of the King’s Fund, and a founding Trustee of the Walter and Liesel Schwab Charitable trust, set up in memory of her parents. She is a Trustee of the Rayne Foundation, Trustee of the Van Leer Group Foundation, Chair of the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute and Chair of Independent Age. She chaired the Review of the Liverpool Care Pathway for Dying Patients in 2013 and was Vice Chair, Mental Health Act Independent Review 2017-2018. She is also a member of the Executive Board, Leo Baeck Institute London. Her latest book on Antisemitism ‘What it is. What is isn’t. Why it matters’ (Orion Books) was published in May 2019. Photo credit Derek Tamea
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