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Tuesday, 07. November 2023 6:00 pm – 9:30 pm Save in my calendar


How to defend the rule of law and safeguard liberal democracy

Perspectives from civil society actors from Israel, Germany and Europe

The strategies and methods of illiberal actors around the world are strikingly similar: As examples from Central Europe, Israel and beyond suggest, assaults on judicial systems based on the rule of law are often at the center of the illiberal playbook for hollowing out democracies. Once these checks and balances are weakened, illiberal actors can proceed to curtailing civil liberties and the rights of marginalized groups. This also opens the door for corruption and nepotism.

In Israel, too, the restructuring of the judiciary is at the heart of the illiberal agenda of the right-wing religious-extremist government. The current Israeli government has sought to curtail the independence of the judiciary, restrict religious pluralism and the rights of minorities and women, and advance settlement construction in the occupied West Bank. As a prerequisite for implementing these policies, the government has already promoted legislation to reduce the power of the Supreme Court and undermine other principles of the rule of law.

In both Israel and Europe, civil society has mobilized on a massive scale against these illiberal and anti-democratic developments. For months now, hundreds of thousands of Israelis have come out in weekly demonstrations in Tel Aviv and many other cities to protest the Netanyahu government’s antidemocratic judicial overhaul. In countries like Hungary and Poland, civil society has formed new alliances to oppose illiberal developments and defend the rule of law. In Germany, too, the defense of democracy against illiberal actors has become an urgent subject for civil society.

Against this backdrop, the New Israel Fund (NIF) Germany, in cooperation with the Heinrich Böll Foundation, is organizing an event to examine the illiberal and anti-democratic developments of the last decade in Europe and Israel, and to raise awareness of the perspectives of civil society actors. In particular, the event will discuss how civil society can resist attempts to undermine the rule of law, strengthen democratic institutions and practices, and defend minority rights. At the same time, the event will promote transnational civil society alliances and foster mutual learning about best practice for democratic action and the promotion of the rule of law.


  • Michael Sfard, human rights lawyer, Tel Aviv
  • Zsuszanna Szelényi, Director CEU Democracy Institute Leadership Academy, Budapest, and author of "Tainted Democracy, Viktor Orbán and the Subversion of Hungary"
  • Dr. Hassan Jabareen, Director Adalah - The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights, Haifa
  • Shira Livne, Unit Director Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), Tel Aviv
  • Maximilian Steinbeis, Editor Verfassungsblog, Berlin

Presented by:

  • Maja Sojref, Executive Director, New Israel Fund Germany


English/German with simultaneous translation


A cooperation of the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung with the New Israel Fund (NIF) Germany

Bauke Baumann
Senior Programme Officer Israel, Palestine, Jordan and Iran
T +49(0)285 34 -321



» Participation on site
at the the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung Conference Center, Schumannstr. 8, 10117 Berlin

Please register. Unfortunately, the number of seats is limited. Should the room capacity be exhausted, we will transmit the conference via video to other rooms. We would like to point out that there is no entitlement to a seat in the room.

» Livestream
Alternatively, you can follow the event via the livestream without registering.

Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung - Headquarter Berlin
Schumannstr. 8
10117 Berlin
Heinrich Böll Foundation - Headquarters Berlin
Simultaneous translation