Israel and the Family of Nations : The Jewish Nation-State and Human Rights book cover
1st Edition

Israel and the Family of Nations
The Jewish Nation-State and Human Rights

ISBN 9780415781374
Published July 9, 2010 by Routledge
256 Pages

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Book Description

Can Israel be both Jewish and truly democratic? How can a nation–state, which incorporates a large national minority with a distinct identity of its own be a state of all its citizens?

Written by two eminent Israeli scholars, a professor of constitutional law and a historian, Alexander Yakobson and Amnon Rubinstein are the first to treat Zionism and Israeli experience in light of other states’ experiences and in particular of newly established states that have undergone constitutional changes and wrestled with issues of minorities.  Citing various European, constitutions and laws, the authors explore concept of a Jewish State and its various meanings in the light of international law, and the current norms of Human Rights as applied to other democratic societies compatible with liberal democratic norms and conclude that international reality does not accord with the concept which regards a modern, liberal democracy as a culturally "neutral" and a nationally colourless entity.

In light of the new political map in Israel and the prospect of future disengagement from the West Bank, Israel and the Family of Nations is essential reading for all those who wish to understand Israel’s future challenges.

Table of Contents

Introduction  1. The Establishment of the Jewish State - The UN Debates in 1947  2. Two Arguments: Zionist "Colonialism" and the "Invention" of the Jewish National Identity  3. Zionism and International Norms  4. The Jewish State and the Israeli Democracy  5. "Either Jewish or Democratic"?  6. "The Neutrality of the State" and the Democratic Nation-State  7. "Ethnic Democracy", "Ethnic Nationalism", "Civic Nationalism."  Epilogue

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Dr. Alexander Yacobson is a Senior lecturer in the history department of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel.

Prof. Amnon Rubinstein, is currently Provost and Dean of the Radzyner School of Law at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzlia. He is a former Minister of Education and a regular contributor to Israseli Dailies.


"...Yakobson and Rubinstein have written a thoughtful and provocative study that sheds real light on Israel's approach to civic equality, in the context of the behavior of other democracies. The book will be a valuable addition to courses on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East politics, or liberal democratic theory and practice." -- H-Net Reviews (2010), Michael Galchinksy, Georgia State University

' is an important book, whose ideas deserve to be widely heard' - The Economist, 2008

'The book is not a traditional pro-Israel polemic in the sense that it does not extol Israeli behavior, but seeks to point out that, in its basic definition and goals, Israel is well within the norms of democratic practice. In Yakobson's words, while "every state is unique, Israel is not 'exceptional' in the negative sense. It is not an abnormal democracy."

The book includes chapters on Israel's establishment and the UN debates on partition in 1947-9, when the international community voted for a "Jewish state"; the views of the Zionist movement on the character of the future Jewish state and the rights of the Arab minority; international law, human and minority rights and their application in different democratic countries; religion and state in Western democracies; the relationship between nation-states and their national minorities; along with other issues that come up in the intellectual debate over Israel's legitimacy.

In dealing with the argument equating Zionism with colonialism - a favorite in both academia and Arab politics - the authors once again bring homegrown Israeli anti-Zionists into the ring. ' - The Jerusalem Post, 2008

'In a Sophisticated discussion of notions of citizenship, deeply informed by the new literature on multiculturalism, Yakobson and Rubinstein provide array of examples that belie Israel's exceptionalism' - SA Jewish Report, April 2009

'Israel and the Family of Nations is a timely and necessary book. It is scholarly but accessible and should provide a basis for intelligent debate about israel and for defending its institutions and foundations' - Seth J. Frantzman, Middle East Quarterly, Fall 2009