"Jewish" and "Democratic" State - can they dwell together?

"Jewish" and "Democratic" State - can they dwell together?

Professor Menahem Ben-Sasson
Spring 2021 course
M, W 10:30am - 12:00pm
3 classroom credits

Prerequisites: None

Exam Type: None
Grades will be based on class participation and a paper

Israel is defined in its laws and court rulings as a “Jewish and Democratic”. The "Jewish" nature was first defined within the Declaration of Independence of 1948. The "Democratic" character was first officially added in the amendment to the Basic Law: the Knesset that was passed in 1985 (amendment 9, clause 7A).

This Israeli legal definition of the nature and character of the State of Israel has been debated by numerous scholars and political observers as well as Supreme Court Justices.

Students will learn about the legal, philosophical, and political problems created by the tensions inherent to this definition and will discuss the various ways in which they might be settled.

Special attention will be given to the question: Why Israel does not have a Constitution yet. This question has been asked repeatedly in the context of the Jewish and Democratic State.

These questions will also serve as an entry point to understanding major political and social debates in Israel’s recent history.

Subject Areas: International, Comparative & Foreign Law, Legal History, Legal & Political Theory