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Laws 2015, 4(3), 579-601; doi:10.3390/laws4030579

The Absence of the Right to Culture of Minorities within Minorities in Israel: A Tale of a Cultural Dissent Case

School of Law, Carmel Academic Center, 4 Shaar Palmer St., P.O. Box 33891, Haifa 33031, Israel
Received: 25 March 2015 / Revised: 14 July 2015 / Accepted: 13 August 2015 / Published: 1 September 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Public Law - Engendering Equality)
Download PDF [253 KB, uploaded 1 September 2015]

Abstract

The Israeli Plonit case concerns a Muslim woman who wished to be represented by a female arbitrator in a Shari’a Court. The Shari’a Court of Appeals denied her request and decided that Shari’a Law permits only men to serve as arbitrators. Plonit petitioned the Israeli Supreme Court, which accepted her petition and decided that the Shari’a Court of Appeals’ decision infringed her right to equality. While I support the outcome of the Supreme Court’s decision, my paper sheds a light on a crucial matter that is absent in the decision; namely, the right to culture of Muslim women, who are a vulnerable members of a minority group in Israel, and therefore constitute a “minority within minority”. Analysing the case in terms of Plonit’s right to culture, in addition to her right to equality, has two advantages. First, it stresses the main issues at the heart of the legal debate, which are the minority culture’s norms and practices, and the right of the minority within the minority to influence and shape them as much as the majority within the minority. Second, when the minority within the minority’s claim is put in terms of the right to culture, and not only in terms of the right to equality, they are not necessarily perceived by other minority members as claims that try to enforce external norms on the minority culture.
Keywords: Israel; Muslim; women; Jewish; feminism; Shari’a Court; group rights; the right to culture; multiculturalism; religious freedom Israel; Muslim; women; Jewish; feminism; Shari’a Court; group rights; the right to culture; multiculturalism; religious freedom
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Pinto, M. The Absence of the Right to Culture of Minorities within Minorities in Israel: A Tale of a Cultural Dissent Case. Laws 2015, 4, 579-601.

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