Honor, freedom of expression, and judicial independence are core values in modern societies. The latter two are associated with democracy and liberalism, while the roots of honor lie in the need for recognition. The British in Mandate era Palestine came from a democratic tradition, but it is unclear whether, and to what degree they intended the locals to enjoy these values. The article analyzes a series of defamation cases which shed light on the way the British Mandate courts balanced these concepts when plaintiffs sued after being accused of loyalty to the British. Such cases were unique in requiring judges to exert independence in their balancing of the plaintiff’s honor, the defendant’s freedom of expression, and the courts’ willingness to accept loyalty to the Crown as negative and offensive. This was a three-dimensional test case of British attitudes towards the three values. We show that at least some of British judges in the lower courts perceived themselves as independent and were willing to set aside the honor of the British government in order to allow the local inhabitants to defend their own honor. This adds to our understanding of the roots of judicial-independence and honor in (pre)-State Israel.


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pp. 66-83
Launched on MUSE
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