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8 - Constitutional Transformation, Gender Equality, and Religious/National Conflict in Israel: Tentative Progress through the Obstacle Course

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 January 2010

Ran Hirschl
Affiliation:
Assistant professor of political science, University of Toronto
Ayelet Shachar
Affiliation:
Assistant professor of law, Law University of Toronto
Beverley Baines
Affiliation:
Queen's University, Ontario
Ruth Rubio-Marin
Affiliation:
Universidad de Sevilla
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Summary

Open any traveler's guidebook about Israel, and you will soon find a photo of a young woman in military uniform carrying a weapon. She is the female soldier. Just like her male peers, she is subject to mandatory conscription to the defense forces when she reaches the age of eighteen. Her image is an emblem of gender equality. Unfortunately, the status of women in Israel does not match the mythology this image suggests. This gap between myth and reality makes Israel a living laboratory for the study of women's rights. As a Jewish and democratic state, it hosts a constant battle over its religious, national, and cultural identity, as well as engaging daily with internal and external challenges to its very existence. In each of these struggles, women's rights, among others, are tested to the limit. This chapter provides an overview of the current status of women's rights in Israel. Our intention is to analyze how, why, and under what conditions individual women and feminist organizations have been successful in advancing the gender equality agenda through constitutional rights jurisprudence and legislative initiatives. We also hope to evaluate the limits of such change by addressing the nature of the enduring inequalities that Israeli women still face in navigating the obstacles of a deeply divided society.

Our discussion is divided into three major sections. We begin with an outline of pertinent elements of Israel's unique constitutional system.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2004

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References

Yael Azmon and Dafna N. Izraeli, eds., Women in Israel: Studies in Israeli Society (London: Transaction Publishers, 1993)
Sylvie Fogel-Bijaoui, “On the Way to Equality? The Struggle for Women's Suffrage in the Jewish Yishuv, 1917–1926,” in Deborah S. Bernstein (ed.), Pioneers and Homemakers: Jewish Women in Pre-State Israel (Albany: SUNY Press, 1992)
Ran Hirschl, Towards Juristocracy: The Origins and Consequences of the New Constitutionalism (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004)
Kremnitzer, Mordechai, “The High Court of Justice and the Shaping of Public Policy: Equality and Gender” (2001) 7 Israel Affairs100CrossRefGoogle Scholar
David Kretzmer, “Basic Laws as a Surrogate Bill of Rights: The Case of Israel” in Philip Alston, ed., Promoting Bills of Rights through Bills of Rights: Comparative Perspectives (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000) 75
Raday, Frances, “Israel — The Incorporation of Religious Patriarchy in a Modern State” (1992) 4 International Review of Comparative Public Policy209Google Scholar
Ramadan, Moussa Abou, “The Transition from Tradition to Reform: The Shari'a Appeals Court Ruling on Child Custody (1992–2001)” (2003) 26 Fordham International Law Journal595Google Scholar
Ayelet Shachar, Multicultural Jurisdictions: Cultural Differences and Women's Rights (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001)
Shachar, Ayelet, “Whose Republic? Citizenship and Membership in the Israeli Polity” (1999) 13 Georgetown Immigration Law Journal233Google Scholar
Shalev, Carmel, “Halakha and Patriarchal Motherhood — An Anatomy of the New Israeli Surrogacy Law” (1998) 32 Israel Law Review51CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Strum, Philippa, “Women and the Politics of Religion in Israel” (1989) 11 Human Rights Quarterly483CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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