Released on 15 January 2018, a new report by Yaacov Lozowick, Director of the Israel State Archives, has caused considerable controversy among relevant circles over the archive disclosure policy at the Israel State Archives in particular, and official government archives in general. Lozowick states that many challenges obstruct the proper functioning of the State Archives. Obstacles are associated with the approaches/policies of disclosing and allowing public access to the archives.
“Israel does not treat archived items as is expected by a democratic state,” Lozowick critically began his article. The overwhelming majority of archived items are sealed, and have not been open to public access at all. The few publicly available items are subject to unreasonable restrictions. In addition to lacking transparency, the disclosure process is not subject to public oversight.
Lozowich explains that, when he was employed in summer 2011, he understood that the Israel State Archives and relevant branch offices comprised an unreasonable realm. However, he postponed addressing the issue. In the following years towards 2015, he cooperated with many people in order to prepare a plan to reform the archives. This development (albeit mediocre, as will be seen) has changed the Israel State Archives. In 2016, the public status of the archives was transformed. Compared to several thousands in 2015, the number of users rose to almost half a million in 2017. The number of requested files also increased from 5,000 to around 40,0000 a year. Additionally, 16 million copies are scanned and do not need to be requested in advance. However, Lozowick concludes that continuing reforms and increasing public interest have resulted in more challenges to disclosing archived items. In other words, the more the interest, the less the potential to see archived items.