Transformative justice: Israeli identity on trial

Leora Y. Bilsky*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Examines four trials held in Israel in which government authorities sought to advance a political agenda through criminal prosecution. Far from being "show trials", these hearings greatly transformed popular consciousness in Israel and were instrumental in the democratization of Israeli society. Pp. 17-82 deal with the Kasztner trial (1954-58) and pp. 83-165 with the Eichmann trial (1960-62). The Kasztner trial, and particularly the final judgment of Justice Shimon Agranat of the Israeli Supreme Court, shattered the simplistic juxtaposition prevalent in Israeli consciousness of heroic resistance and the path of betrayal, in this case negotiation with the enemy. The Eichmann trial shattered this conception even more and for the first time gave voice to the victims of the Holocaust rather than to the resistants. Dwells on the criticism voiced by Hannah Arendt and Natan Alterman, who challenged the conceptions of the Kasztner and Eichmann trials respectively - Arendt in support of the resistance-betrayal dichotomy and Alterman against it. The other two trials discussed are those of the Israeli soldiers who perpetrated the Kufr Qassem massacre (1956) and of Yigal Amir who assassinated PM Yitzhak Rabin in 1995.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationAnn Arbor
PublisherUniversity of Michigan Press
Number of pages378
ISBN (Print)0472024922, 047203037X, 0472114220, 9780472024926, 9780472030378
StatePublished - 2004

Publication series

NameLaw, meaning, and violence
PublisherUniversity of Michigan Press

ULI Keywords

  • uli
  • Democracy -- Israel
  • Justice, Administration of -- Political aspects -- Israel
  • Religion and politics -- Israel
  • Trials (Political crimes and offenses) -- Israel


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