Israel and the United States: A Tale of Two Democracies

Tags: Diplomacy, Law, Politics

Israel Democracy Institute

Israel and the United States

The Zionist Movement, reflecting the gestalt of the time, emerged simultaneously in Europe and in the Russian Empire in response to growing anti-Semitism in different places. While Jews around the world had prayed for a re-establishment of Jewish sovereignty in Israel since the fall of the Second Temple in the year 70 CE, the Modern Zionists took the next step of launching an ongoing effort to achieve statehood. In 1896, an Austrian Jewish journalist named Theodor Herzl.

Essential Questions should we consider?

-- What is the historical context that led to the commitment of Israel’s founders to its Jewish and democratic character?

-- What are the hallmarks of a democratic state and how do they manifest in Israel?

-- What characterizes Israel as a Jewish state?

-- How does Israel’s character as a democratic state inform its nature as a Jewish state and vice versa?

-- How are key laws and documents influenced by Israel’s dual character as a democratic and Jewish state?

-- How does Israel balance what might sometimes be competing interests arising from its commitment to being both democratic and Jewish?

Check out the curriculum from The Israel Democracy Institute.

Using this curriculum:

-- Students will identify key values as expressed in Israel’s Declaration of Independence, noting similarities and differences between Israel’s Declaration and that of the United States.

-- Students will articulate the role played by values in a country’s life and decision-making processes.

-- Students will frame one or more reasons, expressed in Megillat Ha'atzmaut, that there was a need for a sovereign Jewish democratic state at the time of the writing of the document.


-- How does a country’s history influence the values it chooses to embrace?

-- Why does a country need values?

-- What is the relationship between a country’s values and its character as a democratic state?

Draw out participants’ perceptions of democracy based on their own experience in the United States.

Introduce participants to Megillat Ha'atzmaut and set the stage for the remainder of the modules.

Compare and contrast the values between the U.S. Declaration and those of Israel’s Megillah.

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