Peripheral Vision: Polish-Jewish Lawyers and Early Israeli Law

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Some of the founding fathers of Israel's legal system were lawyers educated in Polish law schools. What was the impact of this background on their legal thought? There are few explicit references to Polish law in Israeli legal texts. However, indirectly, legal and constitutional ideas taken from Polish law did appear in Israeli law. This article focuses on the legal writing of four Israeli lawyers in the period immediately after Israel's independence in 1948, showing how Polish law was used by these lawyers as a source for occasional precedents, for critiquing Israeli law (dominated by English law), and, mostly, for constitutional precedents. The relatively greater impact of Polish law in the constitutional realm can be attributed to the fact that Poland (like other new countries established in the interwar period in the periphery of western Europe, such as Ireland) offered Israeli lawyers constitutional models that were both more modern, and more relevant to the specific circumstances of the new state, where religion played an important role in defining the identity of the nation. The history of the impact of Polish law on Israeli law can thus serve as an example of interwar constitutional innovation in the European periphery, and its later impact on post-World War II constitutional law.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-266
Number of pages32
JournalLaw and History Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 May 2018


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