Judgement in Jerusalem: Chief Justice Simon Agranat and the Zionist Century

Pnina Lahav




Univ of California Pr

Publication Date:




Chief Justice Simon Agranat was to Israeli law what David Ben-Gurion was to Israeli politics. A visionary founding father, Agranat had a hand in every important legal and political issue to face Israeli society. Justice in Jerusalem, based on extensive interviews conducted with Agranat, provides a compelling look into Agranat the Supreme Court Justice and Agranat the American immigrant seeking to fulfill his Zionist dream in Palestine. Pnina Lahav skillfully paints a panoramic view of Israeli history and legal culture: the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Holocaust, the symbiosis between religion and the Jewish state, the tension between universal values and the nation state and within Zionism itself. Born in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1906 and educated at the University of Chicago, Agranat brought U.S. progressivism and constitutionalism to Israeli legal soil. On the Supreme Court from the beginning of Israeli statehood, he laid the foundation to the country's bill of rights - this despite the fact that Israel had failed to adopt a written constitution. Focusing on major legal events, Lahav explores the social and political context in which Israeli constitutional law has been crafted. Lahav details the thinking behind Agranat's 1962 decision to convict the notorious Nazi Adolph Eichmann, as well as his fascinating 1970 dissent in the "Who Is a Jew?" case. We also learn of the tensions that arose as Agranat found himself pulled between the contradictory demands of American jurisprudence and the practical difficulties rooted in the Israeli concern for security. The first biography of an Israeli judge in English, this book reveals new insights into the relationship between Israeli law and politics, the influence of American law abroad, and the intricacies of national identity and of justice.

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Other editions: 1985

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