A Woman of Valor Goes to Court

Tort Law as an Instrument of Social Change under Multiculturalism

in Israel Studies Review
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  • 1 Haim Striks School of Law ellaglass@gmail.com
  • 2 Tel Aviv University beetony@colman.ac.il
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ABSTRACT

Can liberal legal tools appeal to non-liberal communities in settling their internal disputes? Are different legal routes for pursuing human rights instrumental in facilitating such usage? This article seeks to answer these questions by using the Israeli test case of the ‘Immanuel affair’. In this case, a segment of the ultra-Orthodox populace resorted to the secular legal system, seeking relief for the discrimination in education it had suffered at the hands of its own community members. As part of a non-liberal community, the plaintiffs were destined to face the classic ideological clash ignited by imposing liberal values on a non-liberal group, even when serving the group’s best interests. This article analyzes the plaintiffs’ choice to bring their grievances to court through the civil justice system. It concludes that the ethical ‘cosmology’ of non-liberal groups is perceived as less abridged when a case is adjudged as a civil tort claim, as opposed to being adjudged within the context of constitutional law.

Contributor Notes

ELLA GLASS is a PhD candidate in Sociology at Tel Aviv University. Her research interests include the sociology of ethics, knowledge, law, and social service. Her current research focuses on the formation of knowledge, methods, normative categories, and ethical cosmology in Israel’s social work arena.

YIFAT BITTON is an Associate Professor in the Haim Striks School of Law at the College of Management–Academic Studies in Rishon LeZion. She received her PhD from the Hebrew University and an LLM from Yale Law School. She is a co-founder and chair of the Tmura Center for Promoting Equality, where she provides pro bono representation to victims of discrimination using strategic litigation of their tort claims in Israeli courts. Her publications concern reorienting tort law to protect human rights. They include “Transformative Feminist Approach to Tort Law: Exposing, Changing, Expanding—the Israeli Case” (2014) and “Bringing Power Relations within the Scope of Negligence Liability” (in Hebrew, 2008).

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