The politics and strategies of defending human rights: The israeli case

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This paper examines the politics of defending human rights, based on Public Choice Theory. Human rights organizations in Israel turn to the court to defend human rights. We argue that this strategy may prove ineffective in terms of defending human rights for the long run for various reasons. First, the politics of defending human rights is very complex where the power circle beside the court and human rights organizations includes also the relations between politicians, bureaucrats and the public. Second, the political culture that has been established in Israeli society since the 1980s is such that relations between citizens and politicians are based on a bottom-up orientation. Thus, norms and social changes can be hardly imposed from top down, but mainly evolve from bottom up. Directing all human rights strategies toward an elitist institution such as the Supreme Court may bear results in the short run but in the long run attitude change as well as policy decisions towards defending human rights are likely to emerge due to demands from society. Third, by empowering the court, human rights organizations disconnect these issues from the vast majority of Israeli citizens discouraging belief change. The paper concludes that defending human rights must include also attempts of mass mobilization which will create the grounds for human rights organizations to turn to the legislative authorities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-56
Number of pages18
JournalIsrael Law Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law


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