CIE board members Nachman Shai, a former Knesset member and a Labor candidate in the March 2021 election, and Yaron Ayalon, the director of the Jewish studies program at the College of Charleston, discuss the decline and possibilities for revival of the once-dominant political left in Israel in a series of three online conversations held in the first three months of 2021.

In Part 1, “Psychology,” Shai and Ayalon address the thinking that gave rise to liberal Zionism, helped David Ben-Gurion’s Mapai party and its successors, down to today’s Labor Party, control Israeli politics for 30 years, then faded to the point that Labor has flirted with falling below the threshold for Knesset representation. Recorded Feb. 9; 1 hour, 16 minutes.

In Part 2, “Peace and Security,” Shai and Ayalon delve deeper into the consequences for liberal Zionism of an Israeli electorate shifting rightward as Israel largely resolves existential threats from Arab states and settles into an uncomfortable status quo with the Palestinians after a series of failed peace efforts. Recorded March 2; 1 hour, 8 minutes. 

In Part 3 — “What Is Liberal Zionism Anyway?” — Shai and Ayalon reflect on the relevance of liberal Zionism today and in the future in Israel and the United States. They also discuss the results of the March 23, 2021, election, in which Shai ended two years of political retirement to run as a Labor candidate but, as the eighth name on the party list, fell just short of returning to the Knesset when Labor won seven seats. Recorded March 30; 1 hour, 5 minutes.