March 22, 2023

Democracy Endangered: The Case of Israel

Event Series: Free Speech at the Crossroads: International Dialogues

Showing the Democracy Endangered: The Case of Israel Video

Just weeks after taking office, the new government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which some have labeled as the most right-wing in the country’s history, announced plans to weaken the Supreme Court and other democratic institutions, prompting massive domestic protests and widespread concerns among the country’s friends about the future of Israeli democracy. Many say the proposal could eliminate the judiciary from serving as an effective check on the executive and legislative branches of government, and add new complications to the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. It could also sideline Netanyahu's scheduled trial on charges of fraud, breach of trust, and bribery. An expert panel will analyze the situation and assess the potential impact on free expression in Israel.

This event is co-sponsored by the Free Speech Project (Georgetown University) and the Future of the Humanities Project (Georgetown University and Blackfriars Hall and Campion Hall, Oxford).

Photo courtesy of Flickr user World Economic Forum


Hagit Borer is a professor of linguistics at Queen Mary University of London and a member of the British Academy. A disciple of Noam Chomsky, she earned her Ph.D. in linguistics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1981. Borer’s research for the past 40 years spans comparative syntax, morphosyntax, the syntax-semantics interface, and grammatical acquisition. Originally from Israel, she has been an activist for the rights of Palestinians in that country.

Ian Linden is on the advisory board of the Las Casas Institute (Blackfriars Hall, Oxford) and a visiting professor at St. Mary’s University, London. He was formerly CEO of the Catholic Institute for International Relations and a member of the Christian-Muslim Forum in the United Kingdom, and he has been awarded for his work on human rights. Linden has lived and worked in Africa and, as an historian, has focused on religion and conflict. His current research is on the psychology of the extremist mind.

Debra Shushan is the first-ever director of policy at J Street, a pro-Israel, pro-peace organization in Washington that believes in a negotiated settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She previously oversaw J Street’s congressional advocacy operations as director of government affairs. An analyst of U.S. foreign policy, Shushan was previously director of policy and government relations at Americans for Peace Now. She holds a B.A. from Harvard, an M.Phil. from Oxford, and a Ph.D. from Yale.

Gil Troy, a scholar of North American history at McGill University in Montreal, lives in Jerusalem and is an award-winning presidential historian and a leading Zionist activist. He has been designated as an  Algemeiner J-100, one of the top 100 people "positively influencing Jewish life.”  Troy wrote The Age of Clinton: America in the 1990s (2015)  and eight other books on the U.S. presidency. His essays have been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal.

Michael Scott (moderator) is senior dean, fellow of Blackfriars Hall, Oxford, college adviser for postgraduate students, and a member of the Las Casas Institute. He also serves as senior adviser to the president of Georgetown University. Scott previously was the pro-vice-chancellor at De Montfort University and founding vice-chancellor of Wrexham Glyndwr University.

Sanford J. Ungar (moderator), president emeritus of Goucher College, is director of the Free Speech Project at Georgetown University, which documents challenges to free expression in American education, government, and civil society. Director of the Voice of America under President Bill Clinton, he was also dean of the American University School of Communication and is a former co-host of "All Things Considered" on NPR.