Around the Web

Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:

Friedmann, “The Purse and the Sword”

This month, the Oxford University Press will release “The Purse and the Sword: The Trials of Israel’s Legal Revolution,” by Daniel Friedmann (Minister of Justice in Israel from 2007-2009). The publisher’s description follows:

The Purse and the Sword presents a critical analysis of Israel’s legal system in the context of its politics, history, and the forces that shape its society. This book 9780190278502examines the extensive powers that Israel’s Supreme Court arrogated to itself since the 1980s and traces the history of the transformation of its legal system and the shifts in the balance of power between the branches of government. Centrally, this shift has put unprecedented power in the hands of both the Court and Israel’s attorney general and state prosecution at the expense of Israel’s cabinet, constituting its executive branch, and the Knesset–its parliament. The expansion of judicial power followed the weakening of the political leadership in the wake of the Yom Kippur war of 1973, and the election results in the following years. These developments are detailed in the context of major issues faced by modern Israel, including the war against terror, the conflict with the Palestinians, the Arab minority, settlements in the West Bank, state and religion, immigration, military service, censorship and freedom of expression, appointments to the government and to public office, and government policies. The aggrandizement of power by the legal system led to a backlash against the Supreme Court in the early part of the current century, and to the partial rebalancing of power towards the political branches.

Gans, “A Political Theory for the Jewish People”

This month, Oxford University Press will release “A Political Theory for the Jewish People” by Chaim Gans (Tel Aviv University). The publisher’s description follows:

Chaim Gans’s A Political Theory for the Jewish People examines the two dominant interpretations of Zionism, contrasts them with post-Zionist alternatives, and develops a third model. Along with exploring the historiographic, philosophical and moral foundations of each of these approaches, Gans considers their implications for the relationship between Jews and Arabs in Israel/Palestine as well as the relationship between Israeli and diasporic Jews.

Proprietary Zionism, Gans argues, is the version that is most popular among the Israeli Jewish public. It conceives of the land of Israel/historic Palestine as the property of the Jewish people. It also conceives of the entire Jewish people as belonging to Israel. Hierarchical Zionism is common among Israel’s educated elites and interprets the Jewish right to self-determination as a right to hegemony within the Israeli state. It remains silent on the issue of the relationship between Israeli and non-Israeli Jews. Post-Zionist approaches, conversely, thoroughly reject these Zionist narratives regarding Jewish history and critique the rationale for the continued existence of the state of Israel as a Jewish state.

Gans disagrees with all of these approaches, and in their stead advocates egalitarian Zionism, which is based on an egalitarian interpretation of the right to national self-determination and derives from the justifications for Zionism in its early years. As such, it interprets the historical link between the Jews and the land of Israel in terms of identity rather than property. It also views the link between Israel and world Jewry as a matter of choice for individual Jews–not as a matter of necessity, inextricably bound to their essence as Jews. He sees it as preferable to both the dominant strands of Zionism but also to the major contemporary anti-Zionist approaches: first, that of the Israeli post-Zionists offering a civic or post-colonial vision of a non-Jewish state, and, secondly, that of the mostly American post-Zionists who have a neo-diasporic vision for both Israeli and non-Israeli Jews in which the connection to the land of Israel is loose at best. Ultimately, the book argues that egalitarian Zionism is superior to its rivals both in the authenticity of its relationship to Jewish history and in its implications for denizens of Israeland Jews around the world.

Shahar, “Legal Pluralism in the Holy City: Competing Courts, Forum Shopping, and Institutional Dynamics in Jerusalem”

In August, Ashgate will release “Legal Pluralism in the Holy City: Competing Courts, Forum Shopping, and Institutional Dynamics in Jerusalem” by Ido Shahar (University of Haifa, Israel). The publisher’s description follows:

This book provides an unprecedented portrayal of a lively shari’a court in contemporary West Jerusalem, which belongs to the Israeli legal system but serves Palestinian residents of the eastern part of the city. It draws a rich picture of an intriguing institution, operating in an environment marked by legal pluralism and by exceptional political and cultural tensions. The book suggests an organizational-institutional approach to legal pluralism, which examines not only the relations between bodies of law but also the relations between courts of law serving the same population.

Based on participant observations in the studied court as well as on textual and legal analyses of court cases and rulings, the study combines history and ethnography, diachronic and synchronic perspectives, and examines broad, macro-political processes as well as micro-level interactions.

The book offers fresh perspectives on the phenomenon of legal pluralism, on shari’a law in practice and on Palestinian-Israeli relations in the divided city of Jerusalem. The work is a valuable resource for academics and researchers working in the areas of Legal Pluralism, Islamic Law, and socio-legal history of the Middle East.

Kadman, “Erased from Space and Consciousness”

In August, the Indiana University Press will release “Erased from Space and Consciousness: Israel and the Depopulated Palestinian Villages of 1948,” by Noga Kadman (researcher and licensed tour guide). The publisher’s description follows:

Hundreds of Palestinian villages were left empty across Israel when their residents became refugees after the 1948 war, their lands and property confiscated. Most of the villages were razed by the new State of Israel, but in dozens of others, communities of Jews were settled—many refugees in their own right. The state embarked on a systematic effort of renaming and remaking the landscape, and the Arab presence was all but erased from official maps and histories. Israelis are familiar with the ruins, terraces, and orchards that mark these sites today—almost half are located within tourist areas or national parks—but public descriptions rarely acknowledge that Arab communities existed there within living memory or describe how they came to be depopulated. Using official archives, kibbutz publications, and visits to the former village sites, Noga Kadman has reconstructed this history of erasure for all 418 depopulated villages.

Pappé, “The Forgotten Palestinians”

This July, Yale University Press published The Forgotten Palestinians: A History of the Palestinians in Israel, written by Ilan Pappé (Exeter University).  The 9780300184327publisher’s description follows.

For more than 60 years, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have lived as Israeli citizens within the borders of the nation formed at the end of the 1948 conflict. Occupying a precarious middle ground between the Jewish citizens of Israel and the dispossessed Palestinians of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, the Israeli Palestinians have developed an exceedingly complex relationship with the land they call home; however, in the innumerable discussions of the Israel-Palestine problem, their experiences are often overlooked and forgotten.

In this book, historian Ilan Pappé examines how Israeli Palestinians have fared under Jewish rule and what their lives tell us about both Israel’s attitude toward minorities and Palestinians’ attitudes toward the Jewish state. Drawing upon significant archival and interview material, Pappé analyzes the Israeli state’s policy towards its Palestinian citizens, finding discrimination in matters of housing, education, and civil rights. Rigorously researched yet highly readable, The Forgotten Palestinians brings a new and much-needed perspective to the Israel-Palestine debate.

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