Alon Helled: Sovereignty and (De)Civilizing Processes in the Israeli Habitus between Revolution and Counterrevolution: A Three-Act Story? [Abstract]

Sovereignty can be conceptualized in several fashions, as it consists in the definition of both legal and institutional power relations within and among political systems. This internal\external duality is especially true in the case of Israeli political and legal culture. The exilic features that had once characterized Jewish identity were gradually transformed into a national collectivity. In this sense the sociogenesis of the Jewish State was the result of both civilizing and decivilizing processes. The secularization of “Jewishness” emulated the political order adopted by non-Jewish societies and thus brought to its nationalization. Not only did it entail a spatiotemporal and institutional autonomization, whose trajectory was to legitimize the idea of an independent Jewish nation-state amongst the system of modern nation-states, but it also implied the construction ex novo of legal and institutional frames originating in Jewish and European traditions. This essay, inspired by Eliasian figurational sociology, historically traces and empirically discusses different aspects of Israeli statehood as an expression of Jewish nationhood and state sovereignty. It emphasizes the dialectical interconnections between legal and societal processes in the formation of Israel’s national habitus. The enquiry focuses on the country’s juridico-political changes in light of three major events: the 1948 Declaration of Independence, the so-called Constitutional Revolution, and the Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People. By using a historical and sociological analysis, Israeli sovereignty reveals its structures, contradictions, and transformations.

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