Movements and politicians claiming the mantles of populism and nationalism have risen to prominence in democracies around the globe. They often promote varying, even contradictory interpretations of these concepts, but all challenge existing institutions — often in the name of democratic empowerment. Israel and the United States have both seen dramatic challenges to existing norms in recent years as part of ongoing political turmoil, and both countries share important characteristics with other democracies around the world.
In May, the Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings held a joint conference with the Israel Democracy Institute in Jerusalem to examine current challenges to democratic norms and institutions around the world. On October 7, Brookings followed up on these discussions with an expert panel to discuss the tensions between populist, nationalist, and democratic impulses around the world today, including in the United States and Israel.
Panelists included Yael (Yuli) Tamir, Israeli political theorist, former minister of education of Israel, and the author of “Liberal Nationalism” (1993) and “Why Nationalism” (2019); Bill Galston, senior fellow in the Governance Studies program at Brookings and author of “Anti-Pluralism: The Populist Threat to Liberal Democracy;” and Shany Mor, associate fellow with the Hannah Arendt Center at Bard College and former director for foreign policy at the Israeli National Security Council. Natan Sachs, director of the Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings, moderated the discussion.