National Security and Democracy on the Internet in Israel

Michael Dahan
1999 Javnost - The Public  
A recent parliamentary committee meeting devoted to "Freedom of Expression and the Internet", began with a short demonstration in which Internet sites describing the Order of Battle of the Israeli Airforce, Nuclear weapons 1 , as well as some pornography were reviewed. Members of the Israeli Knesset (parliament) were shocked and astounded --not by the pornography, but rather by the fact that "classified" information was readily available on the Internet. The discussion quickly turned from
more » ... y turned from dealing with freedom of expression, to how to prevent information of this kind from being readily available on the Internet. This incident serves to underscore the inherent conflict of values in Israeli society --the primacy of national security, which subordinates almost every other aspect of democracy in Israel, versus the ideal of liberal democracy focusing on individual rights --chief among these being freedom of expression. These conflicting values have been brought to the surface in recent years due to the incredible growth of Internet use by the general public in Israel. Yitzhak Rabin, the late Prime Minister of Israel and a former military leader, once described Israel's security situation as one of "dormant war" erupting every few years into active conflict. 2 Others have described Israel as a garrison state, surrounded by enemies. In order to understand the relationship between national security and democracy in Israel, one must view the social, political and cultural context. In the founding Zionist ethos of Israel, the tension between national security and democracy hardly existed as an issue. 3 When matters of
doi:10.1080/13183222.1999.11008728 fatcat:7u4o7rzdfjfbbn3ru23yzpmwli