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Liberal Democracy and the Limits of Tolerance

Essays in Honor and Memory of Yitzhak Rabin

Raphael Cohen-Almagor, Editor

Publication Year: 2000

An irony inherent in all political systems is that the principles that underlie and characterize them can also endanger and destroy them. This collection examines the limits that need to be imposed on democracy, liberty, and tolerance in order to ensure the survival of the societies that cherish them. The essays in this volume consider the philosophical difficulties inherent in the concepts of liberty and tolerance; at the same time, they ponder practical problems arising from the tensions between the forces of democracy and the destructive elements that take advantage of liberty to bring harm that undermines democracy. Written in the wake of the assasination of Yitzhak Rabin, this volume is thus dedicated to the question of boundaries: how should democracies cope with antidemocratic forces that challenge its system? How should we respond to threats that undermine democracy and at the same time retain our values and maintain our commitment to democracy and to its underlying values? All the essays here share a belief in the urgency of the need to tackle and find adequate answers to radicalism and political extremism. They cover such topics as the dilemmas embodied in the notion of tolerance, including the cost and regulation of free speech; incitement as distinct from advocacy; the challenge of religious extremism to liberal democracy; the problematics of hate speech; free communication, freedom of the media, and especially the relationships between media and terrorism. The contributors to this volume are David E. Boeyink, Harvey Chisick, Irwin Cotler, David Feldman, Owen Fiss, David Goldberg, J. Michael Jaffe, Edmund B. Lambeth, Sam Lehman-Wilzig, Joseph Eliot Magnet, Richard Moon, Frederick Schauer, and L.W. Sumner. The volume includes the opening remarks of Mrs.Yitzhak Rabin to the conference--dedicated to the late Yitzhak Rabin--at which these papers were originally presented. These studies will appeal to politicians, sociologists, media educators and professionals, jurists and lawyers, as well as the general public.

Published by: University of Michigan Press

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pp. vii-viii

In early 1996, I began to think of organizing an international conference to tackle the intricate question of how democracies should deal with intoler ance and political extremism. The idea was twofold: to bring together some of the leading scholars in Israel and abroad to reflect together on this issue and to enable them to enrich one another, and the public at large, ...

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pp. 1-23

Democracy in its modern, liberal formation is a young phenomenon. It was crystallized only after the Second World War. The idea that governments would be elected through popular vote alarmed and frightened the nineteenth-century decision makers. Now we are so accustomed to the idea of democracy that we tend to forget how young and fragile it is. ...

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The Legacy of Yitzhak Rabin

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pp. 24-27

The events of the past weekend diverted attention more than a little from the political process whose recent milestone is the withdrawal from Hebron. The process is to continue until the next heartbeats, and we can still expect many and long discussions into the dark night....

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The Cost of Communicative Tolerance

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pp. 28-42

In 1993, in the early months of the presidency of Bill Clinton, the Clinton administration led a public campaign against the increasing quantity and extremity of portrayals of violence to be found on television, in motion pictures, and in popular music.1 President Clinton, his wife Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Attorney General Janet Reno all attacked much of the ...

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Protest and Tolerance: Legal Values and the Control of Public-Order Policing

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pp. 43-69

This essay uses public order law in England and Wales and Northern Ireland to show how different factors affect the assessment of legitimacy of the balances that are struck between competing rights and interests. Section II sets the idea of toleration in the context of British social history and aspects of international human rights law and suggests some procedural ...

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Freedom of Speech and Political Violence

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pp. 70-78

"Uninhibited, robust, and wide-open.'" Justice Brennan used this now famous phrase to describe the type of public debate to which every democratic society must aspire. The free speech guarantee of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution should be construed, he insisted, in such a way as to make certain that debate which possesses these qualities ...

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Boundaries of Freedom of Expression before and after Prime Minister Rabin’s Assassination

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pp. 79-98

On 4 November 1995 Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated in the main square of Tel Aviv. It was at the close of a large demonstration that had called for peace and protested against violence. Following the assassination, people felt the need to ponder their own activities and statements before the assassination. Questions were raised about whether the ...

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The Dual Threat to Modern Citizenship: Liberal Indifference and Nonconsensual Violence

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pp. 99-113

The argument I want to make here is that in terms of its political culture, Israel today finds itself in a precarious situation and, moreover, one that is virtually unique to her. This internal situation is the result of the confluence of two broad cultural and political trends, neither of which is specific to Israel. The unexpected convergence of these trends, I would ...

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The Paradox of Israeli Civil Disobedience and Political Revolt in Light of the Jewish Tradition

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pp. 114-132

The State of Israel today finds itself in an uncomfortable and anomalous position. After two thousand years of Diaspora life, bereft of political sovereignty and without control over their homeland, the Jewish people succeeded in establishing a state after (and with ongoing) significant sacrifice of life and limb. However, the very struggle to found the Jewish State ...

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Should Hate Speech Be Free Speech? John Stuart Mill and the Limits of Tolerance

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pp. 133-150

Hate literature is a hard case for liberals, since it exposes a conflict between the two values-liberty and equality-that are most central to their political morality. Though liberals are committed to a wide-ranging freedom of political expression, it is particularly difficult for them to defend anyone's right to threaten the very ideals of tolerance and mutual respect that are ...

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Holocaust Denial, Equality, and Harm: Boundaries of Liberty and Tolerance in a Liberal Democracy

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pp. 151-181

May I preface my remarks with a personal statement, or perhaps I should say that my essay should be understood against the backdrop of my own sensibility on the issue-but which sensibility is not unrelated to the juridical subject matter of the essay. In a word, speaking on a Holocaust-related topic is something I do sparingly, and with difficulty. For the subject mat ...

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The Regulation of Racist Expression

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pp. 182-199

Very different kinds of expression are joined under the label "hate speech." This label is applied to expression that is directed at a minority group and intended to be either threatening or insulting to the members of that group. But it is sometimes also applied to expression that is directed to members of the majority or dominant group in the community and ...

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Freedom of the Press and Terrorism

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pp. 200-214

Early in the morning of 28 February 1993, a convoy carrying agents from the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms set out for a staging area near Waco, Texas. Around 8:00 A.M. the ATF coordinated with a Texas National Guard military helicopter unit. Their mission was to enter the Mount Carmel religious compound and arrest members of the ...

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Reporting on Political Extremists in the United States: The Unabomber, the Ku Klux Klan, and the Militias

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pp. 215-231

The assassination ofIsraeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin provides a dramatic context for questions of liberty and tolerance in a liberal democracy. His death brought charges that extreme statements by his political opponents had created a climate in which assassination by an Israeli extremist was more likely. Such a hostile climate would have been impossible-or at ...

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Pragmatic Liberalism and the Press in Violent Times

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pp. 232-250

If international and domestic terrorism is entering a new and possibly more destructive and nihilistic era-as some knowledgeable specialists predict-it behooves journalists and scholars of mass media to consider how, if at all, the media criticism that reaches journalists can be improved in the years ahead. Whether or not the forecasts of new forms and degrees ...

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Protecting Wider Purposes: Hate Speech, Communication, and the International Community

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pp. 251-274

Samuel Walker states, in Hate Speech: The History of an American Controversy, that "The issue before us is whether offensive words, about or directed toward historically victimized groups, should be the subject of criminal penalties."1 The title of Walker's book reinforces the impression that the issue of hate speech2 is of American origin or only really contro- ...

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Riding the Electronic Tiger: Censorship in Global, Distributed Networks

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pp. 275-294

Over the past eight years the Internet's popularity as a communication1 and information network has grown steadily.2 By the end of the second millennium, it is estimated that more than half of the households in the Western world will be "wired" to the Internet. The rapid acceptance of the Internet has been accompanied by the controversial realization that there ...


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pp. 295-298

Index of Court Cases

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pp. 299-300


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pp. 301-306

E-ISBN-13: 9780472023912
E-ISBN-10: 0472023918
Print-ISBN-13: 9780472110162
Print-ISBN-10: 0472110160

Page Count: 320
Illustrations: 2 drawings
Publication Year: 2000