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When rights are the stakes of a conXict, politically engaged lawyers often play important roles. Their professional knowledge of the law, political vision, and commitment are vital resources for articulating rights claims and challenging rights violations. In the course of those struggles, lawyers’ skills can be put to the tasks of defending those who are Wghting for rights and formulating strategies to marshal law to their aid. “Cause lawyering” is a concept developed by sociolegal scholars to highlight and analyze the involvements of lawyers as legal practitioners on behalf of a cause other than—or greater than—the interests of individual clients.2 In contrast to “conventional” or “client lawyering,” which is tailored to accommodate individual clients and to maneuver within prevailing arrangements of power, cause lawyering involves the application of professional skills and services to transform the status quo in some goal-oriented fashion. Working for a cause implies agency and consciousness, political C h a p t e r 6 Cause Lawyering and National ConXict Defense Lawyers Try to realize that this vast judicial organism remains . . . in a state of eternal equilibrium, and that if you change something on your own where you are, you can cut the ground out from under your own feet and fall, while the vast organism easily compensates for the minor disturbance at some other spot—after all, everything is interconnected—and remains unchanged, if not, which is likely, even more resolute, more vigilant, more severe, more malicious. Franz Kafka, The Trial1 154 identiWcations, social solidarity and goals. A cause also implies mobilization to achieve some kind of change and the creation or exploitation of opportunities for intervention and alliance building within a given Weld of hegemonic relations. The study of cause lawyering explores how legal professionals contribute to the causes with which they identify and how the politics of the cause at issue aVects and is aVected by lawyers’ work. Many of the Israeli and Palestinian defense lawyers who practice in the Israeli military court system in the West Bank and Gaza could be regarded as cause lawyers because their motives for doing this work are political. While they do things common to defense lawyering—providing legal counsel to people who have been arrested, defending the rights of the accused throughout the legal process, visiting clients in prison, encouraging or consoling them as they endure the travails of prosecution and incarceration, and serving as their link to the outside—the issue of cause comes to bear in understanding why individual lawyers would choose to work in this court system when other options are available to them and how they use their position as legal professionals to intervene in the Israeli-Palestinian conXict. However, while many Israeli and Palestinian lawyers have chosen to work in the military courts to serve a cause, it is not the same cause. The situation in apartheid South Africa provides a salient contrast. There, cause lawyering exhibited a coherence of cause that included not only resistance to the racial hierarchy but also a transcendent vision of a democratic future. Cause lawyering strategies were coordinated with a larger antiapartheid movement.3 In Israel/Palestine, there is no shared vision about the desired course of political change, nor is there a coordinated or cohesive movement uniting all those who oppose the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Analytically and politically, the contrast illustrates the diVerence between lawyers working for a cause of “national” proportions and those working in a “transnational” context (see Chapter 1). In South Africa, the politics of the state was both a focal point of organized resistance and a goal: the antiapartheid movement was seeking to transform the South African state from a racist monopoly into a nonracist democracy. In Israel/Palestine, the Israeli state provides an enduring point of reference for struggles over rights, but there are wide variations in perceptions about the conXict and goals for change. The various causes to which military court lawyers subscribe or sympathize and their motivations for functioning as cause lawyers derive from a combination of factors. The most important are lawyers’ identities, which bear on their relations to the CAUSE LAWYERING AND NATIONAL CONFLICT 155 Israeli state and to the Palestinian population in the occupied territories who make up their clientele, and lawyers’ political orientations and ideological commitments, which bear on the kinds of changes they advocate and the kinds of alliances and relations they cultivate through their work. In this chapter, I describe and analyze cause...


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