Review: Israel and the Family of Nations: The Jewish Nation-State and Human Rights

Alexander Yakobson and Amnon Rubinstein, Israel and the Family of Nations: The Jewish Nation-State and Human Rights (Routledge: London, 2008).

Israel and the Family of Nations: The Jewish Nation-State and Human RightsOn November 24th, 2014 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proposed a bill to his cabinet that would define Israel as “the nation-state of the Jewish people”. This bill proved so acrimonious that Netanyahu dismissed two important cabinet members over its content and ultimately decided to dissolve the Knesset in favour of elections. The debate is not new; the question of “Jewish and democratic” has long been a divisive one in Israeli history. Following the 1967 war, there has been a controversial debate about the future of Israel. Its future is debated in both practical and existential terms usually framed with reference to ‘the Palestinian Question.’ This is usually phrased as to what extent can, and should, Israel maintain its status as a simultaneously Jewish and democratic state. Alexander Yakobson and Amnon Rubinstein have attempted to settle this debate by arguing that Israel can and must be both Jewish and democratic. They ultimately conclude that a failure to view Israel as such denies its legitimacy as a nation-state. The authors seek to contextualize the case of Israel in a world of modern nations and liberal democracies and to ultimately contest the concept that Israel’s very existence needs re-examining.

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