A woman of valor goes to court: Tort law as an instrument of social change under multiculturalism

Yifat Bitton, Ella Glass

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-127
Number of pages21
JournalIsrael Studies Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2016


  • Ethnic discrimination
  • Human rights
  • Liberalism
  • Multiculturalism
  • Post-liberal perspective
  • Tort law
  • Ultra-orthodox society


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