Around the Web

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

Jacobs, “Jews and Leftist Politics”

Last month, the Cambridge University Press released “Jews and Leftist Politics: Judaism, Israel, Antisemitism, and Gender,” by Jack Jacobs (John Jay College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York).  The publisher’s description follows: 

The relationships, past and present, between Jews and the political left remain of abiding interest to both the academic community and the public. Jews and Leftist 9781107047860Politics contains new and insightful chapters from world-renowned scholars and considers such matters as the political implications of Judaism; the relationships of leftists and Jews; the histories of Jews on the left in Europe, the United States, and Israel; contemporary anti-Zionism; the associations between specific Jews and Communist parties; and the importance of gendered perspectives. It also contains fresh studies of canonical figures, including Gershom Scholem, Gustav Landauer, and Martin Buber, and examines the affiliations of Jews to prominent institutions, calling into question previous widely held assumptions. The volume is characterized by judicious appraisals made by respected authorities, and sheds considerable light on contentious themes.

“Synagogues in the Islamic World” (Gharipour, ed.)

In May, Edinburgh University Press will release Synagogues in the Islamic World:
Architecture, Design and Identity edited by Mohammad Gharipour (Morgan State University). The publisher’s description follows:

Synagogues in the Islamic WorldThis beautifully illustrated volume looks at the spaces created by and for Jews in areas under the political or religious control of Muslims. Covering regions as diverse as Central Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and Spain, it asks how the architecture of synagogues responded to contextual issues and traditions, and how these contexts influenced the design and evolution of synagogues. As well as revealing how synagogues reflect the culture of the Jewish minority at macro and micro scales, from the city to the interior, the book also considers patterns of the development of synagogues in urban contexts and in connection with urban elements and monuments.

Key Features:

  • Uniquely explores the elements and concepts applied in the design of synagogues in the Islamic world
  • Shows connections between Jewish and Islamic architecture and the collaboration among Muslims and Jews in the design and construction of synagogues
  • Takes an interdisciplinary and cross-cultural approach, providing a new setting for the analysis of Islamic architecture
  • Addresses historical, social, urban, and architectural aspects of synagogues throughout the Muslim world including Iraq, Afghanistan, Morocco, Egypt, Spain, Turkey, Tunisia, Iran, and India

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.

Mahler, “Politics and Government in Israel”

 

This month, Rowman & Littlefield releases “Politics and Government in Israel: The Maturation of a Modern State,” by Gregory S. Mahler (Earlham College).  The publisher’s description follows:

This balanced and comprehensive text explores Israeli government and politics from both institutional and behavioral perspectives. After briefly discussing 1442265353Israel’s history and the early development of the state, Gregory Mahler then examines the social, religious, economic, cultural, and military contexts within which Israeli politics takes place. He makes special note of Israel’s geopolitical situation of sharing borders with, and being proximate to, several hostile Arab nations. The book explains the operation of political institutions and behavior in Israeli domestic politics, including the constitutional system and ideology, parliamentary government, the prime minister and the Knesset, political parties and interest groups, the electoral process and voting behavior, and the machinery of government. Mahler also considers Israel’s foreign policy setting and apparatus, the Palestinians and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the particularly sensitive questions of Jerusalem and the Israeli settlement movement, and the Middle East peace process overall. This clear and concise text provides an invaluable starting point for all readers needing a cogent introduction to Israel today.

Goldscheider, “Israeli Society in the Twenty-First Century”

This June, Brandeis University Press will release “Israeli Society in the Twenty-First Century: Immigration, Inequality and Religious Conflict” by Calvin Goldscheider (Brown University).  The publisher’s description follows:

Israeli Society in the Twenty-First CenturyThis volume illuminates changes in Israeli society over the past generation. Goldscheider identifies three key social changes that have led to the transformation of Israeli society in the twenty-first century: the massive immigration of Jews from the former Soviet Union, the economic shift to a high-tech economy, and the growth of socioeconomic inequalities inside Israel. To deepen his analysis of these developments, Goldscheider focuses on ethnicity, religion, and gender, including the growth of ethnic pluralism in Israel, the strengthening of the Ultra-Orthodox community, the changing nature of religious Zionism and secularism, shifts in family patterns, and new issues and challenges between Palestinians and Arab Israelis given the stalemate in the peace process and the expansions of Jewish settlements.

Combining demography and social structural analysis, the author draws on the most recent data available from the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics and other sources to offer scholars and students an innovative guide to thinking about the Israel of the future.

This book will be of interest to scholars and students of contemporary Israel, the Middle East, sociology, demography and economic development, as well as policy specialists in these fields. It will serve as a textbook for courses in Israeli history and in the modern Middle East.

Walzer, “The Paradox of Liberation”

In March, Yale University Press will release “The Paradox of Liberation: Secular Revolutions and Religious Counterrevolutions” by Michael Walzer (Emeritus Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study).  The publisher’s description follows:

Paradox of LiberationMany of the successful campaigns for national liberation in the years following World War II were initially based on democratic and secular ideals. Once established, however, the newly independent nations had to deal with entirely unexpected religious fierceness. Michael Walzer, one of America’s foremost political thinkers, examines this perplexing trend by studying India, Israel, and Algeria, three nations whose founding principles and institutions have been sharply attacked by three completely different groups of religious revivalists: Hindu militants, ultra-Orthodox Jews and messianic Zionists, and Islamic radicals.

In his provocative, well-reasoned discussion, Walzer asks why these secular democratic movements have failed to sustain their hegemony: Why have they been unable to reproduce their political culture beyond one or two generations? In a postscript, he compares the difficulties of contemporary secularism to the successful establishment of secular politics in the early American republic—thereby making an argument for American exceptionalism but gravely noting that we may be less exceptional today.

“Secularism on the Edge: Rethinking Church-State Relations in the United States, France, and Israel” (Berlinerblau et al., eds.)

In August, Palgrave Macmillan released “Secularism on the Edge: Rethinking Church-State Relations in the United States, France, and Israel” edited by Jacques Berlinerblau (Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University), Sarah Fainberg (Tel Aviv University), and Aurora Nou (graduate student at American University). The publisher’s description follows:

What is secularism, and why does it matter? In an era marked by global religious revival, how do countries navigate the presence of faith in the public square? In this dynamic collection of essays, leading scholars from around the world, including Israeli novelist A.B. Yehoshua and French female rabbi Delphine Horvilleur, examine the condition of church-state relations in three pivotal countries: the United States, France, and Israel. Their analyses are rooted in a wide variety of disciplines, ranging from ethnography and demography to political science, gender studies, theology, and law.

Prominent among the points addressed are the crippling nomenclatural confusions that have so hampered not only secularism as a political ideology, but secularism as an academic construct. This reader-friendly volume also offers a critical and nuanced look at how women are impacted by secular governance. Though secularism is often equated with modernity and progress, including with regard to gender equality, our contributors find that the truth is infinitely more complicated.

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