The Institute for Israeli Thought (IIT)
Discover a new vision for Israel with the Institute for Israeli Thought. Our research provides insights into the structural problems of the Israeli society and shape a new public discourse. Join us in creating a brighter future for all Israelis.
About The Institute for Israeli Thought (IIT)
The Institute for Israeli Thought (IIT) aims at generating Israeli thought and transforming the state from being fragmented by ethnic, national or religious identities into a more unified and inclusive Israeli civic national identity. The Institute focuses its research activity on structural reforms such as
- fixing Israel’s borders
- transforming its electoral system
- drafting a constitution
The Institute’s fellows comprise of notable public intellectuals from various disciplines, covering a wide range of research and public policy interests pertinent to the challenges Israel is now facing. Alongside the Institute’s senior fellows, fellowships are available to post-doctoral fellows and doctoral candidates who devote their research to question of identity in Israel.
We give out awards annually to intellectual and cultural studies that are thematized around questions of identity in Israel. : Hillel Kook award for a research monograph on Israel; Jacqueline Kahanov award for Israeli literature; Eli Kalir award for Israeli documentary film; and Zvi Keseh award for the best doctoral dissertation that explores Israelism.
The Institute explores diverse ways for reaching out to the public – videos of conferences, clips encapsulating complex ideas, a podcast channel (מחשבה תחילה) and a digital Magazine (מחשבה) – all available to the public via digital platforms and social media.
After three years of intense activity we have made a name and place in public discourse as a pioneering, creative and innovative Institute that thinks out of the box with a strong impulse to imagine a new vision for Israel. In the midst of the current constitutional crisis we are laboring on drafting a groundbreaking and ambitious document – a social contract for Israel that would give a constructive direction out of the crisis, cultivating the intellectual ground for future attempts to draft the first constitution for the state of Israel.
Prof. Avner Ben-Zaken
Prof. Avner Ben-Zaken is the chair of the Institute for Israeli Thought, focusing on Israeli science and Israeli history. Prof. Ben-Zaken is a historian of science exploring the connectivity of people, objects and instruments as they traverse cultural boundaries. Prof. Ben-Zaken is a faculty member at Ono College. He completed his PhD in the history of science at UCLA (2004) and won the Riengold Prize given by the History of Science Society (HSS). He was elected as a junior fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows (2004-2008). Prof. Ben-Zaken published three books and dozens of articles, characterised in a particular methodology of micro-history gradually expanding from a small detail into a global history. He was born and raised in Beer-Sheva.
Prof. Tamar Hostovsky Brandes
Tamar Hostovsky Brandes is a Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) at Ono Academic College’s Faculty of Law, in Israel. She earned her J.S.D and LL.M (cum laude) degrees from Columbia Law School, where she was a Finkelstein Fellow, and her LL.B (magna cum laude) from Tel-Aviv University. She is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Israeli Thought, and was a visiting professor at Columbia Law School in 2018. Hostovsky Brandes teaches and researches in the areas of international and constitutional law, focusing on the intersection between international law, constitutional law, and political theory. Her work in these areas has been published in leading law reviews and collections. Her article “The diminishing status of international law in the decisions of the Israeli Supreme Court concerning the Occupied Territories" won the 2021 International Journal of Constitutional Law Best Article award.
Prof. Eva Illouz
Eva Illouz is a member of the Center of Rationality at Hebrew University and holds the Rose Isaac Chair in Sociology. She is also a Senior Research Fellow at the Van Leer Institute and of the Institute of Israeli thought. She is a past President of the Bezalel Academy of Arts.
Her research interests include sociology of culture, sociology of emotions, sociology of capitalism, and the effect of consumerism and mass media on emotional patterns. Illouz is the author of 15 books about diverse topics as romantic love, Oprah Winfrey, culture, capitalism and the crystallization of the psychological culture during the 20th century, the industry of happiness, and the impact of modernity on emotions. She was a member of the WissenshaftKolleg in Berlin and the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton. Her books have been translated in 25 languages. She received three Best Book Awards from the American Sociological Association, the Annaliese Maier International Award for Excellence in research, the EMET prize in Israel for lifetime achievement as well as the French Legion d’Honneur for her contribution to French culture. In addition to her scholarly work, she writes for Le Monde, Der Spiegel, Die Zeit and Ha’aretz on various subjects such as literature, politics and social affairs.
Mordechay Cohen is a senior research fellow at the Institute for Israeli Thought, focusing on research devoted to the relationship between Israel's central and local governments. Mordechay Cohen was born in the northern town of Hatzor HaGlilit, holds a B.A and an M.A in Political Science from the Hebrew University and graduated from Mandel School of Educational Leadership.
Between 2001 and 2012 he served as the Deputy CEO of the Rashi Foundation and was appointed in 2012 head of the Local Government Administration at the Ministry of Interior Affairs. In 2016 he was appointed CEO of Israel’s Ministry of Interior Affairs, as Chairman of the National Council for Construction and Planning and as Chair of the Committee for National Infrastructure. In his different roles, Mordechay Cohen has worked on creating a new regional government for Israel which aims to decentralize the government’s power, build an infrastructure that would enable local councils and metropolitan areas in Israel to unite under a new government branch and become more independent and driven by the actual needs of their citizens.
Prof. Mohammed Wattad
Professor Mohammed Wattad is a Full Professor and Senior Fellow at the Institute for Israeli Thought. Also, he holds the position of Dean at the Law School of Zefat Academic College. Additionally, from 2014 to 2016, he contributed his expertise as a Visiting Associate Professor at the University of California, Irvine, where he made significant contributions to the Department of Political Science and the School of Law. He is a legal scholar specializing in international and comparative criminal law, comparative constitutional law, international law, the laws of war, the laws on torture, the laws on terrorism, conflict resolution, professional ethics, medical law, and the interaction between law and political science, particularly regarding the independence of the judiciary, the rule of law, and other issues concerning the Arab minority citizens of Israel. He is the 2020 winner of the prestigious Zeltner Young Scholar Award; and the 2015 winner of the prestigious Young Scholar Award on Israel Studies. Between 2003 and 2004, he served as a legal clerk at the Supreme Court of Israel under the supervision of Justice Dalia Dorner. Besides, Prof. Wattad has been devoted to volunteering activities in the community and society. Prof. Wattad is the recipient of the prestigious Paul Harris Award, by the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International, in appreciation of tangible and significant assistance given for the furtherance of better understanding and friendly relations among people of the world.
dr. Inbal Maimon Blau
Inbal Maimon Blau is an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Law, Ono Academic College. She is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Israeli Thought. She was a visiting professor at the University of Michigan (2022). She completed her postdoctoral fellowships at the Hebrew University (2018-2019) and the University of Alberta in Canada (2017-2019). Her primary research focus lies in the area of private law, torts, law & society with a specialization in the legal treatment of mass tort events and disasters. In 2021, her research on compensation for victims of mass events, titled: "After the Flood – Compensations Mechanisms in Mass Tort Events in Israel" was published as a book by the academic publication of the Sacher Institute & Nevo, Faculty of Law, The Hebrew University. Inbal earned her PhD, LLM, and LLB degrees from the Faculty of Law at Tel Aviv University. She has a strong background in teaching and was recognized for her excellence in teaching with the Rector's Excellence in Teaching Awards at Tel Aviv University. In 2016, she was honored with the "Inspirational Doctoral Fellowship" award at Tel Aviv University. Before her academic career, Inbal worked as a lawyer, including a role as a law clerk to the Honorable Judge Khaled Kaboub, who is currently a Supreme Court Judge, in the economics department of the Tel Aviv District Court. Her research has had a significant impact and has been cited and mentioned in various rulings of the Israeli Supreme Court and the district courts.
Gonen Ilan, is a junior fellow at the Institute for Israeli Thought, researching constitutional firmness. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Bar Ilan University, is currently pursuing research on temporal limitations within the legislative process. Under the guidance of Prof. Ittai-Bar-Siman-Tov, Gonen is conducting an empirical analysis of the legislative process's pace and scope of parliamentary deliberation. His academic pursuits reflect his interests within Legisprudence, the laws of legislation, constitutional law, and public law. Gonen holds an LL. B & LL.M (with honors) from Reichman University. During his studies, he explored the pre-electoral coalition (PEC) phenomenon in Israel. He delved into the legal and constitutional structure that facilitates the formation and dissolution of PECs, which compete as parties in the Israeli Knesset elections. Additionally, Gonen is a member of the Israel Bar Association and has completed his legal internship in the Investment Department of the Israel Securities Authority.