1648 or 1948? No room for Westphalia in the middle-east

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The article reviews the ‘religious communities’ arrangement’ in Israeli family law, an arrangement that divides the citizens of Israel into religious communities, regulating their affairs of ‘personal status’ in separate religious courts, adjudicating in accordance with religious law. The article demonstrates that the Arrangement defies the concept of state sovereignty, as it is not based on ‘Westphalian’ concepts of space and territory, but on a different concept, originated in Israel’s history, and Islamic pre-modern concepts such as ‘umma’ and ‘millet’-The ecclesiastical community of believers defying perceptions of political boundaries, and other communities of non-believers, subjected to it. The article concludes with a possible justification for this challenge of the state’s sovereignty, rooted in ideas of legal pluralism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-106
Number of pages8
JournalJournal on European History of Law
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, STS Science Centre Ltd. All rights reserved.


  • Family law
  • Israel
  • Legal pluralism
  • Millet
  • Sovereignty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Law


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