Date of Submission
Open Access Senior Thesis
Bachelor of Arts
Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE)
Professor George Thomas
Professor Gary Gilbert
This thesis begins with an explanation of Israel’s foundational constitutional tension—namely, that its identity as a Jewish State often conflicts with liberal-democratic principles to which it is also committed. From here, I attempt to sketch the evolution of the state’s constitutional principles, pointing to Chief Justice Barak’s “constitutional revolution” as a critical juncture where the aforementioned theoretical tension manifested in practice, resulting in what I call illiberal or undemocratic “moments.” More profoundly, by introducing Israel’s constitutional tension into the public sphere, the Barak Court’s jurisprudence forced all of the Israeli polity to confront it. My next chapter utilizes the framework of a bill currently making its way through the Knesset—Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People—in order to draw out the past and future of Israeli civic identity. From a positivist perspective, much of my thesis points to why and how Israel often falls short of liberal-democratic principles. My final chapters demonstrate that neither the Supreme Court nor any other part of the Israeli polity appears particularly well-suited to stopping what I see as the beginning of a transformational shift in theory and in practice. In my view, this shift is making, and will continue to make, the state’s ethno-religious character the preeminent factor in Israeli Constitutionalism and civic identity.
Batal, Mohamad, "Shifting Priorities? Civic Identity in the Jewish State and the Changing Landscape of Israeli Constitutionalism" (2018). CMC Senior Theses. 1826.