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BIC Excellence Award

Defining Israel
The Jewish State, Democracy, and the Law

By Simon Rabinovitch

Defining Israel
Paperback, 300 pages £29.50
Published: 2018
ISBN: 9780878201624
Format: 228mm x 152mm
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Defining Israel: The Jewish State, Democracy, and the Law is the first book in any language devoted to the controversial efforts in Israel's parliament to pass a "nation-state law." Israel has no constitution, and although it calls itself the Jewish state there is no agreement among Israelis on how that fact should be reflected in the government's laws or by its courts. Since the 1990s civil society groups and legislators have drafted constitutions and proposed Basic Laws with constitutional standing that would clarify what it means for Israel to be a "Jewish and democratic state." Are these bills Liberal or chauvinist? Are they a defense of the Knesset or an attack on the independence of the courts? Is their intention democratic or anti-democratic? The fight over the nation-state law-whether to have one and what should be in it-toppled the 19th Knesset's governing coalition and continues until today as a point of contention among Israel's lawmakers. Defining Israel brings together influential scholars, journalists, and politicians, observers and participants, opponents and proponents, Jews and Arabs, all debating the merits and meaning of Israel's proposed nation-state laws. Together with translations of each draft law and other key documents, the essays and sources in Defining Israel are essential to understand the ongoing debate over what it means for Israel to be a Jewish and democratic state.

Preface Introduction Jewish and Democratic According to the Law Simon Rabinovitch Part I. Sources Report: Constitutional Anchoring of Israel's Vision: Recommendations Submitted to the Minister of Justice (November 19, 2014) Ruth Gavison Draft Bills: A. Basic Law Proposal: Israel--The Nation-State of the Jewish People The 18th Knesset, August 3, 2011 (resubmitted May 26, 2014) B. Basic Law Proposal: Israel--The Nation-State of the Jewish People The 19th Knesset, July 22, 2013 (resubmitted June 9, 2014) C. Basic Law Proposal: The Declaration of Independence and the Jewish and Democratic State The 19th Knesset, July 22, 2013 D. Announcement of the Cabinet Secretary at the End of the Cabinet Meeting [regarding the drafts for the Basic Law: Israel--The Nation-State of the Jewish People] November 23, 2014 E. Basic Law Proposal: The State of Israel The 19th Knesset, November 24, 2014 F. Basic Law Proposal: The State of Israel The 20th Knesset, June 29, 2015 G. Basic Law Proposal: Israel--The Nation-State of the Jewish People The 20th Knesset, July 29, 2015 Part II. Reflections 1. Lightness in Times of Darkness Michael Marmur 2. The Current Crisis in Israel's Constitution Yoram Hazony 3. The Hegemony of Neo-Zionism and the Nationalizing State in Israel Amal Jamal 4. The Triumph of the Majority, and the Decline of Democracy David N. Myers 5. Was it Right to Try to Pass a Nation-State Law? Gideon Sapir 6. A Manual on How Not to Write a Constitution Alexander Yakobson 7. Who Needs the Nation-State Law? The State of the Jews, Fears, and Fear Mongering Israel Bartal 8. On the Essence of the State of Israel Ze'ev B. Begin 9. On the Dangers of Enshrining National Character in the Law Nir Kedar 10. Medina Yehudit and the Jewish Nation-State Law Amnon Lord 11. Enshrining Exclusion: The Nation-State Law and the Arab-Palestinian Minority in Israel Yousef T. Jabareen 12. Religion, Religious Ideologies and the Nation Law Kalman Neuman 13. Mind the Gap: The Cost of Overlooking Gender in the Jewish Nation-State Question Tanya Zion-Waldoks 14. Double Decolonization and the Loss of Hegemony Nahum Karlinsky 15. Too Jewish? Moshe Koppel 16. What is a Nation-State For? Yehudah Mirsky Epilogue Reflections on the Nation-State Debate Ruth Gavison Suggestions for Further Reading Contributor Biographies

"In this comprehensive collection of primary sources and articles--the first of its kind--one will find valuable documents and diverse academic and intellectual perspectives for understanding the nation-state law in the context of the fundamental disagreements in Zionism and Israel. The book will be of much interest for scholars of nationalism, as well as for state and religion scholars."
Menachem Mautner, Danielle Rubinstein Chair of Comparative Civil Law and Jurisprudence, Faculty of Law, Tel Aviv University

"The timeliness and exceptional comprehensiveness of this work cannot be overstated. With passage of Israel's nation-state law, this volume brings together the evolution of that law and a superbly definitive selection of the entire spectrum of views on the deeper underlying issues. It is required reading for anyone with an abiding interest in the issues of Jewish statehood and the direction of Israeli society and politics."
Alan Dowty, Past President, Association for Israel Studies

"This important collection of essays, by leading Israeli and Jewish scholars and politicians, traces the process of enacting a nation-state law, which calls into question the delicate balance between Israel being a Jewish state and a democratic state. It is a must read for anyone interested in the Israeli attempt to reconcile democratic values with a commitment to religious and ethnic identity but also to anyone concerned about the growing conflict between human rights and populist nationalism around the globe."
Adv. Orly Erez-Likhovski, Legal Director, The Israel Religious Action Center

Simon Rabinovitch is Assistant Professor of History at Boston University, where he teaches on a range of topics in Jewish, European, Russian, and legal history. He is the author of Jewish Rights National Rights: Nationalism and Autonomy in Late Imperial and Revolutionary Russia and the editor of Jews and Diaspora Nationalism: Writings on Jewish Peoplehood in Europe and the United States.

Publication Details:

 Paperback , 300 pages
 228mm x 152mm

BIC Code:
  HIS019000, POL000000, POL010000, SOC049000
 Hebrew Union College Press


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