As frequent intermediaries between Israeli military authorities and Palestinian citizens, Palestinian lawyers stand close to the fault line dividing Israeli and Palestinian societies. The conflicts and tensions they experience in their profession mirror the larger conflicts between the two societies. Thus, as George Bisharat reveals in Palestinian Lawyers and Israeli Rule, a careful study of the work and lives of Palestinian lawyers ultimately helps to illuminate the causes of the intifada, or uprising, that began in December 1987.
The study revolves around the central question of why the Palestinian legal profession declined during twenty years of Israeli occupation when, in other Third World countries, the legal profession has often reached its peak during a period of Western colonization. Bisharat answers this question with a wide-ranging inquiry into the historical origins of the legal profession and court system in Palestine, the tenuous grounding of these institutions in Palestinian society and culture, and the structure, style, and policies of the late-twentieth-century Israeli military government in the West Bank.
For general readers interested in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, as well as specialists in such fields as legal anthropology, sociology of the professions, Third World law and development, and Middle Eastern studies, Palestinian Lawyers and Israeli Rule will be required reading.
"In a fascinating and readable ethnography … George Emile Bisharat, an anthropologist and a practicing attorney, elucidates a variety of factors that account for the decline and social marginalization of the legal profession in West Bank society since the Israeli occupation began in 1967. … This is a carefully conceived and well-written book."
—International Journal of Middle East Studies
"… a … fascinating treatment of how a vulnerable, powerless society copes with and tries to resist an alien and illegitimate 'colonial' occupation."
—Michael C. Hudson, Self Ghobash Professor of Arab Studies and Director of the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Georgetown University