Abstract

The article is a conceptual analysis of the challenges Zionism has faced in forging a coherent relationship among nation, state, and law within both secular and religious legal circles. According to classical theories about the relationship of nation to law, the nation gives birth to the state and the state’s task is to generate law reflecting the values of the nation. Yet, precisely who is the nation and what its values are has proved an exceedingly difficult question to answer, given Zionism’s ambivalent relationship to the Jewish past. Thus, in contrast to American constitutional practice, where one can identify a clear point of origin for that mythic body termed “We the People”, no comparably clear point of origin exists in the Israeli context. This dilemma partially explains the turn to Knesset legislation as the transhistorical manifestation of the Jewish people. Forging a conceptually coherent account of the relationship among law (halakha), nation, and state is also a challenge within religious Zionist circles. Indeed, a crux of the debate between Haredi and Religious Zionist legal circles is precisely whether there exists such a thing as an independent Jewish nation, entitled to independent legal rights under the halakha, and whose continued unity the halakha should foster, or whether the halakha, like the state in the liberal model of law, supersedes the nation and is the exclusive national definition of the people and the sole glue holding them together.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-201x
Print ISSN
1084-9513
Pages
pp. 111-132
Launched on MUSE
2014-04-25
Open Access
No
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