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Facing the Threat from Within: How to Build a Jewish Democratic State

A Conversation with Three Experts and Think-Tank Leaders on Israel's Society and Economy

Wednesday, February 05, 2014
4:30 PM - 6:30 PM
UCLA Faculty Center
Sequoia Room
Los Angeles, CA 90095

Co-sponsored by the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs

Israeli society is among the most heterogeneous in the world and has undergone major cultural, economic, and political changes during the last twenty years. The challenges and opportunities these changes may bring require a reexamination of the state's leadership and governance design. At the same time, developments in the Jewish world  may alter the nature of relations between the diaspora and the State of Israel. These too require rethinking of Jewish leadership and institutions.

The panel brings together three experts on Israel's society and economy, all with extensive experience in advising and working closely with the Israeli government. The panelists will discuss the deep-rooted and pressing problems that the Israeli leadership and administration face today and will offer new ways to approach them within a Jewish and democratic state. 

The panelists will share their personal experience of working with the Israeli-government on strategic topics and their views of Israeli reality.  This event is important for any individual or professional who wishes to learn more about governance in Israel, the nature of domestic realities in Israel today, and possible ways to effect transformation.


Dan Ben-David,  Executive Director of the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel; Professor, Tel Aviv University 

Steven Popper,  RAND Senior Economist; Director of the RAND Israel Initiative; Senior Fellow at the Jewish People Policy Institute

Glenn Yago, Senior Director, Israel Center; Senior Research Fellow; and Founder, Financial Innovations Labs, Milken Institute


Ruth Abramzon, Visiting Graduate Researcher, UCLA Y&S Nazarian Center for Israel Studies; Ph.D. Candidate at the IAE (Pantheon-Sorbonne) Paris.

About our speakers: 

Dan Ben-David serves as the Executive Director of the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel and is a senior faculty member of the Department of Public Policy at Tel Aviv University.  He has a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Chicago and specializes in macroeconomics, economic growth and international trade.  Dan Ben-David was named “Person of the Year” by the Calcalist newspaper in 2010, included among the 100 most influential people in Israel by the Haaretz-TheMarker newspaper in 2010 and 2012, and among the 50 most influential people in Israeli education by the Ha’ir newspaper in 2007.  Academically, Dan Ben-David was ranked among the 1,000 most cited academic economists in the world and among the ten most cited economists in Israel during the years 1990-2000.  He is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) in London, a former Faculty Research Fellow at the National Bureau for Economic Research (NBER) in Cambridge, Massachusetts and has served as an adviser to the World Bank and the World Trade Organization.  Dan Ben-David received the Tel Aviv University Provost’s “Best Teacher Award” in Social Sciences in 2004 and was included in the Provost’s list of the University’s best teachers in 2012.

Steven Popper is a RAND senior economist and professor in the Pardee RAND Graduate School, the director and founder of RAND’s Israel Initiative and a Senior Fellow at the Jewish People Policy Institute in Jerusalem. He has advised the Israeli government on energy strategy, domestic policing and socioeconomic strategic thinking. Popper’s main areas of research are long-term strategy, energy, decisionmaking under uncertainty, and science and technology policy. He coauthored the flagship study of the RAND Pardee Center for Longer Range Global Policy and the Future Human Condition, Shaping the Next One Hundred Years: New Methods for Quantitative, Long-Term Policy Analysis (2003), which provides a new methodological framework for decisionmaking under profound uncertainty that been applied to an expanding set of policy issues. His research also focuses on regional economic development and international economics. He has served as a consultant to the World Bank and OECD. He is chair-elect of the Industrial Science and Technology section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and serves as external advisor to the Ohio State Battelle Center for Science and Technology Policy and to the Israel Science, Technology and Innovation Policy Institute. Popper received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of California, Berkeley. 

Glenn Yago is senior research fellow at the Milken Institute and directs its activities in Israel. The founder of the Institute's Financial Innovations Labs, he is an authority on capital markets, emerging markets and environmental finance. Financial Innovations Labs are credited with crafting breakthrough financial policies and programs for institutional investors, foundations, development programs and governments that address such diverse problems as urban revitalization, catastrophic risk, affordable housing, small-business financing, water infrastructure, climate change, health care and archaeological site preservation.  Yago is recipient of the Gleitsman Foundation Award of Achievement for social change, he has received grants from the National Science Foundation, Ford Foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Google Foundation and others. The director of the Milken Institute Fellows Program, he is a visiting professor and Dean's Fellow at the Hebrew University's Graduate School of Business and a fellow of the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton Financial Institutions Center. He is the author of "Financing the Future" and "Fixing the Housing Market." He is co-editor of the Wharton School-Milken Institute Series on Financial Innovation; the upcoming volume is "Financing Cures: Innovations to Accelerate Medical Solutions." He holds Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

About our moderator:

Ruth Abramzon is a Visiting Graduate Researcher at the UCLA Y&S Nazarian Center for Israel Studies and a Ph.D. Candidate at the Institut d'Administration des Entreprises de Paris (Pantheon-Sorbonne) in Paris, France. Her research focuses on common ethos and governability in Israel. Prior to Joining UCLA, Abramzon headed the Leadership and Governance Division at JDC-Israel. Previously, she directed the community center of Hatzor-Haglilit, a town in northern Israel. She holds an M.A. in Public Policy from Tel-Aviv University and a B.A. in International Relations, Sociology and Anthropology from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and is a graduate fellow of the Mandel School for Educational Leadership.



Sponsor(s): , School of Public Affairs

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