Conscientious politics and Israel’s moral dilemmas

Uriel Abulof*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


This paper introduces ‘conscientious politics’, discusses their features and shows their resonance in the case of Israel. I define conscientious politics as politics informed by moral deliberations about legitimacy, and locate them in the larger matrix of conscience. In the balance between passion and persuasion, conscientious politics provide time and invite venues for deliberation on the social contract, challenging rulers’ convenience and society’s conventions. While the individual’s freedom of conscience draws mainly on positive liberty (from within), conscientious politics also requires emancipation from without. However, conscientious politics are not necessarily harmonious or liberal, nor does liberalism necessarily entail free conscience. Conscientious politics are often ‘hidden in plain sight’, and the normative task of bringing them to light depends on revealing the moral dilemmas that underpin actual politics. I unearth such dilemmas with regard to Israel’s 2011 social justice movement, the subsequent prisoner exchange and Israel’s relations with the Palestinians.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-52
Number of pages19
JournalContemporary Politics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2017


  • Israel
  • Public justification
  • conscience
  • conscientious politics
  • deliberation
  • legitimation
  • morality


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