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Theses Master's

Freedom of Expression in Israel and the Place of Different Narratives in the Israeli Discourse

Levy, Yoni

Free speech is intrinsically important as a human right, but it also works as an umbrella to protect all other rights. Every democratic state must respect freedom of expression, while simultaneously establishing appropriate limitations. In Israel, free speech has become essential and a fundamental right. Its limitations are legitimated only in a tangible danger to national security or direct incitement to racism. However, despite the parliamentary and judiciary defense of freedom of expression, the government has found ways to limit free speech. It is often unclear how governments do that; a deeper analysis indicates that the Israeli government uses laws and sanctions to limit certain narratives related to the Israel-Palestine conflict. In this thesis, evidence and case studies demonstrate how freedom of expression is limited in Israel, in both written law and its practice. The national policy related to free speech consists of restrictions to different narratives related to the conflict, including the Palestinian narrative and the collective memory, known as “Nakba”. This research shows the difficulty in the promotion of understanding and peace when the national discourse omits other such perspectives. At the core of the Israel-Palestine conflict are differences between two extreme and opposing views. There is not only a physical wall dividing the two societies, but also a mindset that prevents them from engaging in negotiations with each other. Recognizing each of the other's opposing narratives and demands is therefore the first step towards peace, reiterating the necessity of freedom of expression.

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Academic Units
Institute for the Study of Human Rights
Thesis Advisors
Martin, J. Paul
Degree
M.A., Columbia University
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