Commonly law is seen as an alternative to violence, although it relies on violence or its threat for enforcement. Through a study of Israel’s campaign to transform international humanitarian law (IHL) by systematically violating it, this essay considers the possibility that violence precedes and even creates law. Israel has a long history of ad hoc “legal entrepreneurialism,” but its current effort, launched during the second intifada, is institutionalized, persistent, and internally coherent. The essay reviews the specific legal innovations Israel has sought to establish, all of which expand the scope of “legitimate” violence and its targets, contrary to IHL’s fundamental purposes of limiting violence and protecting non-combatants from it.
Violence’s Law: Israel’s Campaign to Transform International Legal Norms
George E. Bisharat is a professor at UC Hastings College of the Law. The author would like to thank Rose Mishaan for her highly capable research assistance. Thanks are also due to Laura Nader, Mai Taha, and the Interdisciplinary Group at the University of Toronto, Susan Slyomovics, Vida Samiain, and audiences at the University of California, Los Angeles and Cal-Poly Pomona for their insightful comments on versions of this manuscript.
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George E. Bisharat; Violence’s Law: Israel’s Campaign to Transform International Legal Norms. Journal of Palestine Studies 1 August 2013; 42 (3): 68–84. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/jps.2013.42.3.68
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