Vol. 15

headerBFengVol. 15 November 2013





Attorney Ruta Oren Receives the First Faculty of Law Award

The Faculty of Law recently held the first-ever event honoring one of the most prominent figures in the Israeli legal community – Attorney Ruta Oren of S. Horowitz & Co. * The event was attended by many of the leading lights of the Israeli legal world in a special fundraising dinner for the Faculty * Several leading jurists spoke at the event in honor of the recipient of the award 


Three Graduates of the Faculty of Law’s Research Fellows Program Win Fulbright Scholarships

The Faculty of Law’s investment in students for advanced degrees and research fellows has again proved worthwhile. For the first time, all three recipients of the prestigious Fulbright Program scholarships for 2013 are graduates of our research fellows program (and by the way – all three are women!)



The Minerva Center for Human Rights: Internalizing International Law in Israel

The Minerva Center for Human Rights at the Hebrew University has initiated numerous academic projects and strives to enhance the students’ understanding of human rights issues * We decided to focus on one of the Center’s programs that aims to enhance the internalization of international human rights laws in Israel * The program, funded by the European Union, includes tri-partite encounters between government, civil society and academia, as well as a research group and the preparation of research resources for human rights law



Competitions and Emissaries – The Second Article in Our Series

Every year the Faculty sends students to represent the university and Israel in international competitions * In our last issue we looked at the Jessup and ICC Moot Court Competitions * This time, we would like to introduce you to the Red Cross International Humanitarian Law Moot and the Copenhagen International Negotiation Competition



The LL.M. Program at the Faculty of Law: Reaching out to Students from around the World

The Faculty of Law’s English-language master’s degree program (LL.M.) offers law students from various fields an opportunity to study in Jerusalem’s unique atmosphere * The students come from around the world and study in advanced tracks specializing in human rights or international commercial law


Short meetings with faculty students




A First in Israel – A Book on Private International Law

After an extensive period of research, Faculty member Professor Celia Fassberg is about to publish a book on Private International Law * This is the first comprehensive work on the subject published in Hebrew * We spoke to Professor Fassberg, who told us about the book, the writing process, and her fascination with Private International Law


Editor: Ronen Polliack
Editorial board: Michal Totchami, Zohar Drookman

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Faculty of Law - All Rights Reserved

Three Graduates of the Faculty of Law’s Research Fellows Program Win Fulbright Scholarships

Three Graduates of the Faculty of Law’s Research Fellows Program Win Fulbright Scholarships


The Faculty of Law’s investment in students for advanced degrees and research fellows has again proved worthwhile. For the first time, all three recipients of the prestigious Fulbright Program scholarships for 2013 are graduates of our research fellows program (and by the way – all three are women!)

The Fulbright Program was established in the United States in 1948 and offers scholarships in two tracks – a track for American citizens and a track for outstanding non-American academics interested in studying in the United States. In Israel the program is operated through the United States – Israel Educational Foundation (USIEF). Prominent jurists who have enjoyed the program’s support include retired Supreme Court President Aharon Barak and former Justice Minister Professor Daniel Friedman. Our own faculty also includes many former recipients of the scholarship, including Professors Eyal Zamir, Daphna Lewinsohn-Zamir, Assaf Hamdani, and David Enoch. Three graduates of the Faculty’s research fellows program are now joining this distinguished list: Dr. Tammy Harel Ben-Shahar, Sivan Shlomo-Agon, and Dr. Sharon Shakargy. 

Outstanding Researchers
Although all three scholarship recipients are young researchers from the Faculty of the Law, they have different fields of interest and have followed diverse academic paths. Sharon Shakargy, whose doctorate thesis was submitted and approved last year, has been a student in the Faculty since 2001, when she began studying law together with the Amirim program in the humanities. She went on to pursue her master’s degree in the Faculty under the supervision of Professor Michael Karayanni, focusing on the field of private international law. Her doctorate thesis, written under the supervision of Professor Celia Fassberg, discussed the choice of law rules for marriage and divorce.
“During my doctorate studies I was a member of the Faculty’s Research Fellows program and the Private Law Forum,” Shakargy relates. “In the field of of private international law, there is no better place to be – certainly in Israel – than the Hebrew University. Furthermore, on the basis of my own experience I can say that one of the most important requirements for research in the field of private international law is a good library with a large selection of comparative works. Through I was very much impressed by the library at Harvard University, where I have spent a year researching for my doctorate, but our library in Jerusalem is nothing to be ashamed of.”
Another recipient is Tammy Harel Ben-Shahar, who completed her doctorate thesis in the Faculty last April under the supervision of Professor Barak Medina and Professor David Enoch. Harel Ben-Shahar has served for the past two years as an academic instructor at the Faculty’s Clinic for the Rights of People with Disabilities, and for the past year she has also been an instructor in the Public Law Workshop. “My research is advancing a philosophical argument concerning the principle of due distributive justice in the field of education. I am examining how questions of distributive justice in education are manifested in law,” she explains.
The final member of the successful trio is Sivan Shlomo-Agon, who joined the Faculty after serving for seven years as an officer in the International Law Department of the Judge Advocate General’s Office. “The Faculty of Law at the Hebrew University,” she explains, “is a hothouse for researchers in the field of international law, both in Israel and around the world. So it was the natural place for me to undertake my doctorate studies.” Shlomo-Agon’s thesis on the effectiveness of the conflict resolution system in the World Trade Organization was written under the supervision of Faculty Dean Professor Yuval Shany and Deputy Dean Professor Tomer Broude.
The young researchers have been active in diverse fields in Israel and elsewhere. For example, Shakargy has established the Family Law Forum. “I felt that there was a need for greater discourse on family law,” she recalls. “The forum brings together researchers in family law from all the academic institutions in Israel, as well as several family researchers from fields other than law.” Shlomo-Agon was a member of a research project led by Faculty Dean Professor Yuval Shany focusing on the effectiveness of international tribunals, funded by the European Union’s Research Council (the ERC). For two years she trained the Faculty’s team in the international Jessup moot court competition. During her doctorate studies, Shlomo-Agon interned in the World Trade Organization, the subject of her thesis, and was later invited to visit the WTO as a guest researcher. The scholarship recipients have also been active as class instructors, imparting knowledge to the next generation of researchers. For example, Shakargy relates: “Last year I taught the Introduction to Israeli Law course as part of the Faculty’s international program. It was an interesting and unusual experience, both in terms of the subject matter and due to the need to ‘translate’ the Israeli system for students from diverse legal systems and different approaches to teaching and learning.”
The Fulbright recipients’ research proposals are also fairly diverse. Sharon Shakargy, who is already at the University of Michigan, will be focusing on the legal regulation of spousal relationship which are not traditional marriages, under the supervision of Professor Mathias Reimann. “One of the components in my thesis concerns the devaluation of the status of marriage – what is commonly referred to as the transition of marriage from status to contract. After several years’ intensive work in the field of the transnational regulation of marriage, I came to understand that there is no longer any reason to differentiate between marriage and other spousal relationships, at least in terms of the rights between the partners themselves. Accordingly, I find it strange that there is no arrangement – that is to say, no choice of law rules – for such relationships. As I started reading about the subject, I found that when an arrangement has been proposed in particular instances it has been unsystematic and imprecise.”
Ben-Shahar and Shalom-Agon have both traveled to New York University for their post-doctorate studies, although they are attending different programs. Ben-Shahar is a member of the Tikva program, which seeks to promote research drawing on Hebrew law and related fields. “In the program I am continuing to research the subject of distributive justice and the way it is implemented in law. One study is examining religious schools and the tension created between religious and cultural values and distributive justice. Another study I will be involved in will focus on the demand for equality regarding goods characterized by competitiveness in consumption.” Shlomo-Agon has been appointed an Emile No? l fellow in the Jean Monnet Center. In this framework she will participate in a project that aims to examine the legal discourse between international courts and diverse audiences – in addition to states – with the goal of consolidating and maintaining the courts’ legitimacy as part of global governance.

From the Faculty to Fulbright
The scholarship recipients are heading off to pursue academic research in different universities and cities in the United States. They were selected after a strict procedure implemented by the program, including submission of a research plan, written recommendations, and a personal interview. This type of screening process can naturally cause considerable stress, but the replies came quickly and – to the three women’s great satisfaction – they were positive.
The Faculty made a significant contribution to the admissions procedure. “The Faculty as a body, as well as specific members of it, have made an important contribution to my development as a jurist,” Shakargy explains. “My academic achievements are certainly closely related to my studies at the Faculty, and particularly to what I have learned from Professor Fassberg. Many Faculty members, both faculty members and he administrative staff members, went out of their way to make the process as smooth as possible.” Shlomo-Agon describes a similar experience: “My doctorate supervisors were full partners not only throughout my doctorate studies, but also as I prepared for the post-doctorate stage. I can hardly imagine how I could have enjoyed such a fascinating process over the past few years, and secured the achievements I have managed to reach, without this generous help.”  
The support of the Faculty of Law does not end when the researchers receive the scholarship and are admitted to the program. The Faculty team continues to offer assistance as the recipients move on. “Yaffa, the doctorate students coordinator, helped me greatly with the administrative aspects of applying for the scholarship. She crossed her fingers together with me and shared in my joy when the good news came,” recall both Ben-Shahar and Shlomo-Agon. “In general, the wonderful community of doctorate students at the Faculty helped a lot at every stage, both socially and professionally. It’s great to have colleagues you can exchange information with and ask for advice.” Shakargy sums up: “The Faculty’s investment in the research fellows program has paid off, at least as I see it. During my time in the program it has provided a real support group. The friendships and collegial relationships developed amongst the fellows were of much help. Fellows generously and willingly shared information even with regards to competitive programs.” Ben-Shahar adds: “The program created an interesting and challenging framework, one aspect of which was practical information about career planning, post-doctorate studies and so forth.”
In the future the young researchers plan to return to Israel. Harel Ben-Shahar has already secured a place as a member of the Faculty of Law at Haifa University and expects to being teaching work on her return. Shakargy and Shlomo-Agon also plan to find their place in the Israeli academic community after completing their research in the United States and hope to be accepted in the leading law faculties in Israel.




From left  - Dr. Sharon Shakargy, Sivan Shlomo-Agon and Dr. Tammy Harel Ben-Shahar

Attorney Ruta Oren Receives the First Faculty of Law Award

Attorney Ruta Oren Receives the First Faculty of Law Award


The Faculty of Law recently held the first-ever event honoring one of the most prominent figures in the Israeli legal community – Attorney Ruta Oren of S. Horowitz & Co. * The event was attended by many of the leading lights of the Israeli legal world in a special fundraising dinner for the Faculty * Several leading jurists spoke at the event in honor of the recipient of the award


In the luxurious conference center at Dan Panorama Hotel in Tel Aviv, round tables had been arranged around a long central table of honor, awaiting the arrival of the guests, many of them prominent figures in the Israeli legal community. The purpose of the gathering was to celebrate the launching of a new tradition: an award marking the achievements of graduates of the Hebrew University’s Faculty of Law. The recipient of the first award is Attorney Ruta Oren. As often happens at such events, the desire to share in the recipient’s happy occasion was combined with an event that became a “must” for all the leading lights in the legal world.


Slowly at first, and then in a veritable flood, the room began to fill with senior partners and founders from many of the leading law firms in Israel, along with former judges and senior members of the Law Faculty. The guests included senior partners from S. Horowitz, Agmon, Herzog Fox & Neeman, and other firms, including former Justice Minister Yaacov Neeman and Supreme Court President (Ret.) Aharon Barak.


In addition to marking Attorney Oren’s work, the evening also served as a fundraising event for the Faculty’s doctorate students. The program included an appearance by the Israeli conductor Gil Shohat and the international opera singer Ira Bertman, as well as a lecture by Dr. Yuval Noah Harari of the History Department at the Hebrew University, who offered some thoughts about the future development of humanity.


“In order to train our students,” the Dean of the Faculty, Yuval Shany, explained, “we need outstanding academics who can teach them to engage in legal research. The curriculum we offer today for advanced degrees can withstand comparison to our sister institutions in Europe and around the world.



Attorney David Tadmor of Tadmor & Co., chairperson of the organizing committee for the evening


Our program has been very successful and we have absorbed research and post-doctorate students who began their studied in the Faculty and have now returned to us. The funds raised at the evening help these programs, and therefore also help the legal community and the numerous other communities that rely on its assistance.”


Attorney David Tadmor of Tadmor & Co., who served as chairperson of the organizing committee for the evening, explained the idea behind the gala event: “I spent several years in the United States, where I first encountered the idea of the ‘legal dinner,’ which combines an award to a respected member of the local legal community with fundraising for important goals. And our own goal is, of course, pretty important: to help our research students. We decided to inaugurate a new tradition that encourages Faculty graduates to donate to its institutions, and there could be no worthier candidate than Ruta Oren as the first recipient of the award.”



A modest and honest jurist


Ruta Oren is hardly a household name in Israel and she is not in the habit of giving interviews to the media. As Tadmor noted, “Israel has changed and the world has changed, but Ruta is still the same Ruta.” In the legal community, and particularly in the field of commercial litigation, Ruta is widely seen as a model figure, as reflected in the impressive line of speakers who asked to add their own comments in her praise.

Oren had not always intended to enter the field of law. Her main dream was to become a member of a kibbutz. She began to study agriculture, but following the United Nations vote on the Partition Plan on November 29, 1947, she abandoned her studies and volunteered as a signal operator in the Palmach.




The Dean of the Faculty, Professor Yuval Shany, Attorney Ruta Oren and Supreme Court Justice (Ret.) Aharon Barak


In 1953 she began to study law at the Hebrew University, and in 1958 she took on a post as an intern in the firm in which she would later become a senior partner – S. Horowitz.


Oren took an unusual course in the legal profession, concentrating on commercial legal consultation rather than litigation. Attorney Alex Hertman, one of her colleagues in the firm, recalls: “The clients were immediately enchanted by her warm, energetic spirit and by her thirst to learn and understand any new field she encountered.” In 1977, Oren became a partner in the firm.


Oren is now completing some five decades of work that have included involvement in the largest transactions in the Israeli economy. “Her modesty, honesty and integrity are well known,” Hertman comments. Professor Amnon Rubinstein recalled that “in the middle of one of the major corruption scandals in the Israeli economy, Ruta commented to me, ‘I don’t understand one thing – is it so hard to be honest?’ My answer was ‘Yes, it is hard – but not for you, Ruta.’”


Hertman added: “The admiration for her transcends boundaries. On more than one occasion she has found herself leading transactions that have no connection to Israel. Attorneys from all the countries involved let her lead the process and are full of admiration for her approach. She has a reputation as an attorney that helps close deals rather than leading to an explosion. She makes a real effort to understand not only her clients’ interests, but also those of the other side.”



“I owe a debt of thanks to the profession”


At last, the guest of honor took to the podium, excited and somewhat embarrassed, to receive the award from retired Supreme Court Justice Aharon Barak and Dean Shany. “You promised me that I wouldn’t have to make a speech,” she reminded the dean, who replied with a smile: “I didn’t promise to keep my promise.” Oren confessed that “the remarks tonight by the distinguished speakers have solved a riddle. At last I’ve understood why on earth they insisted on giving me this award.”


In a short, modest speech, Oren mentioned her early days in the legal profession. “I didn’t know what to expect,” she explained.




Attorney Ruta Oren of S. Horowitz & Co.

“Suddenly I discovered an entire world out there. As I started to take my first steps in the world of law, I realized that my assumption during my studies that various subjects were irrelevant had been mistaken. I owe a debt of thanks to the Faculty for teaching me basic principles that you cannot learn anywhere else. The absence of these principles is evident in any jurist, and this gap can only be filled by academic studies.”


Oren continued: “The world of law has given me more than I have given back. Thanks to my profession I have met businesspeople, scientists, people in diverse positions and, of course, attorneys. These acquaintances have enriched me both personally and professionally. I’m glad to say that I have made many friends, and many of them have come here this evening.”


Concluding her speech, Oren commented: “I have been lucky enough to live a life doing something that interest me and that I like. I owe a debt of thanks to the profession.”


Additional pictures taken at the event are available here.

Competitions and Emissaries – The Second Article in Our Series

Competitions and Emissaries – The Second Article in Our Series


Every year the Faculty sends students to represent the university and Israel in international competitions * In our last issue we looked at the Jessup and ICC Moot Court Competitions * This time, we would like to introduce you to the Red Cross International Humanitarian Law Moot and the Copenhagen International Negotiation Competition


“Traditional frontal teaching in classes and lectures can achieve a lot, but other teaching methods are also valuable, particularly in the field of law.” This balanced appraisal is offered by Professor Tomer Broude, an expert in international law. “The advantage of international competitions, like the legal clinics,” he continues, “is that they give the students a chance to practice things for themselves and to learn through action, rather than just coping with theoretical questions.”


Broude also notes that participation in such competitions shows that the students did something meaningful alongside their regular academic studies, something that can have a positive impact on their future professional opportunities. “Over the past several years I’ve followed what happens to the Faculty graduates who participated in these competitions, and they’ve done well for themselves. I’m not claiming that this is just because they participation in the competitions, but that shows something about the quality and motivation of the participants. These are the kind of students who will end up working for the United Nations, or on international tribunals and the like. It opens a window into a career in international law and gives them a good push forward. When I was a student we didn’t have these kind of opportunities,” Broude recalls.


The Annual Red Cross International Humanitarian Law Moot (IHL)

The IHL competition was held this year for the sixth consecutive year, and the first round included 12 teams from seven academic institutions around Israel. Each team includes three students who are required during the course of the competition to prove a knowledge and understanding of the rules of international humanitarian law. The students play different roles, such as attorneys general, commanders of guerilla forces, Red Cross representatives, United Nations diplomats, and so forth. The first stage is the national competition in Israel. The Hebrew University has won this stage for four years running, and last year two teams from the university won first and second places. In the second stage the winning team travels abroad to participate in an international competition against teams from around the world. The teams undergo initial screening by the university and the Red Cross to make sure they meet a minimum level of knowledge in the field.


Yahli Shereshevsky, the competition coordinator and one of last year’s coaches, explains why the IHL differs from other international legal competitions: “The other two main competitions offered in the Faculty are moot trials in which the first stage includes written arguments followed by a formal presentation stage. By contrast, in IHL the students study humanitarian law and related aspects, but there isn’t a single focused argument or advance preparations. The whole process is based on simulation games,” he notes. The competition is based on a selected background story and the teams take part in simulations, receive background material, and come into the room. Each time the situation is different, and each time the participants have to play a different role and present the relevant legal arguments. “They have to understand who they are, what it means to represent that party, which arguments are legitimate and which are not. The dynamic is also very different. There’s a big difference between courtroom debating and negotiations with another country or a discussion in the army,” Shereshevsky points out. “They need to have an excellent grasp of the material so that they can fish out the relevant points. The participants have to be very creative, to know how to present their case, and to know when to choose an argument that is more humanitarian and when to prefer a more military-oriented argument, for example.”


Shereshevsky continues: “I think this competition is the most fun to take part in as a student. It’s so creative, and you don’t find yourself rehearsing the same legal argument a thousand times over. The atmosphere and the spirit of the competition are also very special. When you move on to the international stage, the emphasis is on maintaining a pleasant atmosphere and encouraging international encounters. There’s a real sense of satisfaction, as in the other competitions, but also an emphasis on other aspects.”


The IHL is closely rooted in reality. Just as an attorney does not necessarily know what argument s/he will face next, so the participants in the competition have to gain a thorough and comprehensive knowledge of the law, since each time they focus on a different legal situation. “In the Jessup moot, for example, you prepare for a specific case, but in the IHL you have to prepare yourself for the unknown,” Professor Broude explains. “Just as in legal practice you sometimes have to react quickly to solve a problem, it’s the same in the simulation. You come with what knowledge you have, they try to confuse you, and you have to respond quickly in a rapidly-changing reality,” he adds.


The participants receive four academic credit points for participating in the national competition and two more points if they make it to the international competition. The competition also strengthens their self-confidence in speaking to audiences, judges, and adversaries. “Some legal professionals spend all their time drafting documents. But for most of them it’s a profession where you need excellent speaking skills. The competition really enhances your confidence in your own abilities in this field,” says Professor Broude. “The Hebrew University is very strong in the research field, but even native English speakers can find it hard to express themselves, let alone people who don’t have that background in the language. We try to teach this, too.”



The Copenhagen International Negotiation Competition


This is a relatively new competition held under the auspices of the University of Copenhagen. The competition focuses on negotiations for agreements between countries relating to complex international economic issues. Participation is by invitation only, and limited to fifteen leading institutions from around the world. In 2010, the Faculty was invited to participate in the second competition, which related to an international agreement to formalize trade rights in generic drugs. This subject combines international trade, human rights, and intellectual property. “We were invited because the organizers were looking for outstanding faculties from non-OECD countries,” Professor Broude explains. “During the course of the competition Israel joined the OECD, and for the purpose of the game the organizers told us that we would play the role of the OECD group. That changed our commitments and frameworks and raised the bar for the competition.” Despite this change, the university’s team – consisting of Lital Casper and Noah Alster – won first place in the competition. The first stage of the competition includes the submission of written documents, followed by a stage of oral arguments held in Copenhagen. “The document they prepared was excellent. We moved on to the oral stage and they won first place. That’s an exceptional achievement,” Broude notes.




Lital Casper (right) and Noah Alster (Photo: Libi Oz)


“I remember that when we went to Copenhagen we were sure that we would be the underdogs,” Lital Casper recalls. “We arrived with two goals: to enjoy the competition, the people, and the experience and to have fun in the city. This was the first year that the Hebrew University had sent a team to the competition. For us it was an incredible learning experience, and we hoped to be good ambassadors for the university and to gain experience to help the university’s teams in the following years,” she explains. She recalls that during the competition the other teams used all kinds of negotiating tactics. The Israeli team had not concentrated on developing this aspect, but focused on content and on the general logic of the proposals. “We were sure that we didn’t stand a chance of reaching the finals, so we were really surprised,” Lital admits. She describes the competition as an amazing experience, and attributes the victory to a combination of excellent content and a successful approach to the negotiations. “Above all, I think we made sure to take a level-headed approach. We enjoyed the experience, the city, the competition, and the encounter with people from different countries. We didn’t let the pressure get to us,” she concludes.


In preparation for the competition, each team prepares a profile of an imaginary country similar to the country it is representing. The competition simulates multiparty negotiations between numerous countries ahead of the drafting of a particular convention. Sometimes the emphasis is on just a few clauses in the convention. Accordingly, while the other competitions are more adversarial, the situation in Copenhagen is complex in nature. During negotiations, everyone seeks to move things forward and reach agreement, but there are also conflicts of interest and overlapping interests. There might be a common interest with a country on one aspect, but a conflict on another issue. Broude suggests that the judges, who are themselves experienced diplomats from international organizations, also examine the team’s ability to advance the negotiations and not just to insist on its own position. The net result is a different kind of dynamic in the competition.


The competition also appeals to a different kind of student to the other legal competitions, and it focuses on different kinds of international issues. “Apart from humanitarian law and international public law, there is a whole world of international conventions dealing with economic issues and touching on regulations in the fields of safety, health, the environment, and so forth,” Professor Broude explains. “Today there is even an international convention on reducing smoking. There are certainly students who are interested in such progressive issues and we try to raise awareness of these fields,” he adds. In the past, the competition has addressed such issues as access to medicines, access to food against the background of global famine, and so forth – issues that are essentially economic. “The subject of rising global food prices, agricultural subsidies in certain countries, agreements to increase global food production, and improving the distribution of food are all a science in their own right and are studied outside the Faculty and the campus,” Professor Broude emphasizes. This year, for the first time, the organizers of the competition are requiring that one student in the team must come from the sciences, and one of the documents must be a scientific analysis of the product. This year’s subject is international trade in sustainable energy. “Each country has to decide what product it wants to promote. Israel could be a solar superpower,” Professor Broude suggests.


Michelle Nagar, who participated in the competition in 2011, warmly recommends the experience: “The Copenhagen competition is a great option for anyone who wants to learn about international law behind the scenes – how it is created, the role Realpolitik plays in the process, and the incredible importance of the ‘small print’ at the end of the convention. These aspects are not usually studied in the Faculty, but they can sometimes lead to very stormy arguments.” According to Nagar, the competition was a tremendous intellectual challenge that expanded her knowledge of international law in general and developed her strategic thinking. “For me,” she confesses, “the real reward came during the debating stage. I discovered my true capabilities at the moment of truth, and I had an amazing sense of empowerment that stayed with me for a long time after the competition.”



Michelle Nagar (right) and Shallya Scher





Who am I? Lena Mahula
Age: 19
Year: 2

The facts: Lena was born in St. Petersburg, Russia to a Russian-Christian father and an Arab-Christian mother from Kafr Yasif in the Galilee. Her parents met in Russia, and when she was five the family moved to Israel and settled in Kibbutz Ayalot. Later they moved to Haifa. “Although I wasn’t required to perform military service and they didn’t send me a draft, I decided to perform national-civilian service after completing my studies,” Lena explains. “I wanted to be like my classmates who were all giving several years of their life to the country. I don’t think I’m any different from other Israeli citizens.”




Since Lena had always loved children and was interested in medicine, she decided to perform her service in the Pediatric Oncology department at Rambam Hospital in Haifa. “Despite the tragic circumstances, I saw real solidarity and fellowship in the department – between Arabs and Jews, immigrants and tourists, religious and secular people. Everyone shared the same sorrow and supported each other without any exceptions. I felt that I was helping, and I was able to communicate with families from the Territories who only spoke Arabic.” During her period of service, Lena also competed in the national beauty contest in 2012, winning second place.


Why law? “Everyone asks me that! Everyone who knew me was always certain that I would study medicine, like my parents, and a lot of people were really surprised when I decided to choose a completely different field.” Lena says that she chose the Hebrew University mainly because she has always wanted to be the best at anything she does. “I couldn’t allow myself to study somewhere that was less than excellent,” she claims. “Another reason was that I wanted to be independent and live on my own, without my parents’ supervision.” Two months after beginning her studies, Mahula found herself traveling to Las Vegas to compete in the Miss Universe contest. She confesses that studying law while working at the same time was far from easy: “It wasn’t easy for me to catch up after being away for a month. As soon as I returned to Israel I had to complete a huge amount of material from all the courses.” After thinking things over, Lena decided to take a break from her modeling work and devote herself entirely to her studies. “I told myself that as soon as the pressure eased up a bit I would start modeling again. Today I am managing for the first time to combine studies, work, and modeling.” Lena sees her modeling work as no more than a temporary job. “As you get older, younger models with more up-to-date fashions come along. You get thrown to one side and left without work,” she explains. “Modeling is just a phase; academic studies and a degree are forever.”

A second hearing: Law studies have been a milestone in Lena’s professional and personal life. She explains that for the first time she has begun to understand who she is and what her opinions are on various issues. “I’ve worked out a more consistent approach to various issues, from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the legalization of soft drugs,” she says. She also reveals that she has become a feminist: “I’ve started using the feminine pronoun more and believing in women’s power. In particular, I believe that women need to push themselves forward and built their own education and successful careers.” Lena has always believed in self-motivation, but she claims that her law studies have opened her eyes to the sexism and chauvinism that are prominent in the world. “I would like to set an example through my actions for women from disadvantaged populations – particularly the Arab population, since I am Arab. In my national service, in the beauty contests, in my studies, and in securing good jobs, I have always wanted to prove that as Arab women we can achieve wonderful things if only we believe in ourselves.” 


Who am I? Vala Weintraub
Age: 26
Year: 4

The facts: Alongside her law studies, Vala is also participating in a project run by the Rothschild Caesarea Foundation, which established the Rothschild Ambassadors program in order to develop a network of interdisciplinary and involved leaders in Israel who are committed to influencing the situation and to social responsibility. “The activities include weekly training sessions in group settings. We also have to work on a social project that we establish from scratch, based on the specific needs of the city where we live,” Vala explains.





In Jerusalem, Vala and her colleagues decided to establish a project focusing on employment among Haredim and among Arabs in the East of the city. The project, which they call “Compass for Employment,” seeks to provide specialist training in the public sector for Haredi and Arab third-year students. “We provide content that helps make employment more accessible, including interview workshops, meetings with employment consultants, and so forth,” she adds.

Why law? Vala says that she wanted to study law at the Hebrew University because she had heard that this was the best faculty in Israel. Apart from the professional aspects, she says that she found Jerusalem charming and loved living in the city. “And I still do! I even found an internship position here and didn’t run off to Tel Aviv like everyone else,” she jokes.


A second hearing: Vala is not only committed to the social rights of human beings. She has also been an animal rights activist since the age of 14 in various organizations. “When I was younger I was very involved and I even organized demonstrations by myself. Today my main activity is writing to Members of Knesset to support or oppose various propose laws, distributing materials, and of course making a monthly donation.” Animal rights is a growing field around the world. Vala feels that this is directly related to her law studies: “In the final analysis, a lot of problems are due to the current legal situation. Many of the biggest campaigns in Israel in the field of animal rights have been about legislation. One example is the force-feeding of geese, which has now been outlawed.” She claims that the obvious analogy between human rights and animal rights is recognized all the time, including in informal discussions about issues such as veganism. “I think that some day soon there will be a course on animal rights. I’m glad to say that the awareness of this issue in Israel has grown considerably, and people are starting to make the connection between harm to animals and our own ability to change the situation.”



Who am I? Gavriel Bayu
Age: 26
Year: 2

The facts: Gavriel was born in Jerusalem but lived abroad for several years. In 2008, when he was just 21, he opened his own advertising agency. “My clients included the municipality, Berman and Angel bakeries, and maybe half the restaurants and cafes in the city,” he recalls. While most of his classmates are preoccupied by tests and projects, Gavriel is already involved in the real world of business. “I sold my local client base to one of the biggest agencies in the city and joined an office in Tel Aviv as a partner. We work with all kinds of clients there – Hot, 012, Microsoft, Clal, several banks, and so on.” As if this weren’t enough, Gavriel is also a director in a Jerusalem company in the services sector.



Why law? “I believe that law is a central field that can move me forward personally and professionally,” Gavriel explains. He already has an education in accounting and economics, and in the future, Gavriel plans to combine his law studies with a master’s degree in business.  His reasons for choosing the Hebrew University are very straightforward: “The Hebrew University is the only Israeli university that is included on the Shanghai Ranking”. In addition to these practical considerations, however, Gavriel also offers a more emotional reason: “The guys here are amazing. Every day I realize how right I was to decide to study here, including in terms of my classmates.” There’s nowhere else like the Hebrew University!


A second hearing: Although Gavriel already has a rich professional life, he admits that the combination of work and studies is a challenge: “It’s hard to cope with studying and working at the same time.” The result is that Gavriel does not spend most of his time in the university or the Faculty, but he is still famous among his peers. “I miss quite a lot of classes but somehow everyone still knows me.” One reason may be that Gavriel founded the sarcastic website “Arrogant Legal Geniuses,” which presents humor from the legal world and has already won some 3,300 “likes.” 


Who am I? Guy Ziv
Age: 26
Year: 3


The facts: Guy came to study law at the Faculty in order to fight for justice, but soon found that he was mainly fascinated by the philosophical side of the subject. He now plans to continue to a master’s degree in law. He is also studying in the Department of Political Science.


Why law? “People always told me that I enjoy arguing, and I was always attracted by the idea of fighting for justice. When I was growing up I often felt that I had to struggle for something I believed was right, so it was only natural to study a subject that can help me do that. 



The studies aren’t easy – I would describe them as challenging. On the other hand, when you get a good grade you really feel you’ve achieved something, and it’s rewarding to cope with those kind of challenges. Some of the courses have provided me with tools for explaining myself, stating my case, and formulating my position. Those are the course I liked most – the ones that touch on the philosophical principles behind law and policy.”


A second hearing: “Over the past year I have volunteered in an organization called The Sky’s the Limit,” Guy tells us. “The organization works with young people at risk from disadvantaged neighborhoods of Jerusalem. The method is to give these young people the feeling that they can improve their own lives and their surroundings by themselves. We don’t want to help them directly, but to lead them through a process of empowerment, according to the motto that you shouldn’t give someone a fish but rather a fishing rod. The counselors help the children to develop their verbal skills and self-confidence. At the end of the year the children plan and implement projects to help their own communities. This year, one of the groups came up with a plan to screen movies for the community. I received a scholarship in return for volunteering in the project. I didn’t work as a counselor but I managed the project’s online presence to raise awareness, maintain our relationships with international charities, and make new contacts. One of the things I liked about my involvement in the project,” Guy continues, “is that there were lots of opportunities to implement and learn more about subjects we studied at the Faculty. It’s a really hands-on experience and it gave me new perspective about the more practical side of things and how issues are reflected in the real world.”


The LL.M. Program at the Faculty of Law: Reaching out to Students from around the World

The LL.M. Program at the Faculty of Law: Reaching out to Students from around the World


The Faculty of Law’s English-language master’s degree program (LL.M.) offers law students from various fields an opportunity to study in Jerusalem’s unique atmosphere * The students come from around the world and study in advanced tracks specializing in human rights or international commercial law


The Faculty of Law at the Hebrew University has a firm reputation as the leader in its field in Israel. As Israeli undergraduates work hard to gain their LL.B. degrees, some of them may not even notice that the Faculty also welcomes students from around the world who join its prestigious LL.M. program intended for English-speaking overseas students.


The program focuses on two main tracks – human rights and international law, and international commercial law and intellectual property. Over the course of the year, the students are required to attend several compulsory courses, seminars, and basic and elective courses. They can also submit a thesis. “The wide selection of courses was a key factor in my decision,” says Irena Rozina, a graduate of the program. “The choice was a factor, as was the Hebrew University’s excellent reputation.” Irena, originally from Moscow, was planning to study in Germany when “almost by chance,” as she puts it, she heard about the Faculty’s LL.M. program. “After looking into the matter a bit I decided to change my plans, and I haven’t looked back since,” she explains.


In the classes the students meet many of the Faculty’s most prominent lecturers in the field, including Professors Yuval Shany, David Kretzmer and Robbie Sabel in the human rights track, and Professor Assaf Hamdani, Prof. Yehonatan Givati and Dr. Guy Pessach in the commercial track. The teaching team also includes guest lecturers and professors enabling the students to learn different fields of specialization from some of the leading lecturers in the world. “The lecturers who taught the classes I attended made a real contribution to my career and my knowledge,” Irena notes. “On many occasions they helped me re-examine various aspects and see things from different perspectives.”


What about the students?

“The multinational character of the program is an advantage in its own right, in my opinion. Actually this aspect is no less important than the program itself: you can learn a lot from the lecturers, but also from each other.”


Do you any advice to give students just beginning the program?

“Sure! Make the most of this opportunity. Study – but don’t forget that you are in a truly unique city that is worth studying in, and worth studying in itself.”



From the United States to Israel – via Cambodia

Patrick McKinley, who is due to begin the program this year, explains: “This program has some great components, above all a high-quality faculty in academic terms with practical experience both in the past and the present. Apart from that, you have students from around the world who come with their own understanding, knowledge, education, and sometimes practical experience in the field.” McKinley feels that “these conditions create a melting pot for us students, and a great environment where we can improve our understanding of the field and enjoy opportunities to encounter new issues and approaches.”







Patrick has an unusual background, as do many of the students who come to the Faculty’s LL.M. program. He began his journey through the world of law as a criminal prosecutor in Texas. After nine years in the position, he went to teach law in the capital of Cambodia. “The situation there is still evolving following the genocide that took place in the country, and my main task was to teach basic legal concepts,” he explains. During his teaching work, Patrick was exposed to the subject of human rights and began to study himself. After completing his teaching assignment, he began to work as a country director for International Justice Mission, an American organization that helps save the victims of abuse and human rights violations. “Our office in Cambodia focused mainly on the war against human trafficking, particularly in the context of the sex industry.”





Patrick McKinley





You seem to have a very impressive record. Why did you decide to apply for the LL.M. program?

“My academic background in the United States focused mainly on local and federal criminal law, rather than international law. I was exposed to international human rights law in Cambodia during the course of my work, but I have never studied the subject in a structured way. I realized that there was a gap between my education and my practical work."


 How did you end up at the Faculty of Law in the Hebrew University?

“When my wife applied for a job in an international agency in Jerusalem, I decided to take the opportunity to fill in my academic gaps. When I realized that I could study here in English – learn together with people, sit in lectures, and hear professors with extensive practical experience in the field – I knew straight away that I wanted to be part of it.”


Patrick and his wife have two young daughters. He relates that for the first time in his life he does not plan to work, but to devote more time to the family home. “This is a really big change,” he admits, “and it was even a bit frightening at first. But it turned out to be great.”


Can you combine running the home with your studies?

“The program is very flexible. I don’t have any problem touring Jerusalem and Israel with the girls and still finding time to study. We’re having a great time.”


How are your impressions of Israel itself?

“I think the whole issue of safety in Israel is a myth,” Patrick claims. It might seem hard to believe him, until you remember his background. “I feel much safer in Israel than I did in Cambodia. Sometimes it really frightened me to know that some of the people in the security forces there had access to firearms. I feel safe here and I’m sure that we’ll be protected. If we’d been concerned about the security situation we wouldn’t have come here.”


Will you stay in Israel after the program?

“Some of the students in the program come here, complete their degree, and then go back to their own country. But we plan to stay in Israel for a while, at least for a few years. I hope that the program will introduce me to some of the initiatives in the field of human rights law in Israel and in the region in general. I want to see if I can find my place in that field and identify opportunities to draw on my professional experience. Of course, the academic education I will get here will be an important factor. The LL.M. program is a great stepping stone.”



An Opportunity to Focus on New Subjects

Needless to say, not all the students came via Cambodia and spent time fighting human trafficking before arriving in the LL.M. program. Anna Lackerman, for example, has a more conventional background that is quite similar to that of the average Israeli student who comes to the Faculty of Law. “I come from Germany,” she explains, “and I recently finished my studies at Heidelberg University, where I specialized in international law. Among other experiences, I participated in the Jessup competition in international law and I attended a summer course in the field.”


Why did you decide to join the LL.M. program?

“I’m interested in expanding my knowledge in the field of international law. In particular, it’s important to me to study the subject from a comparative perspective.




Anna Lackerman



With that in mind, it’s a big plus to be in a program where I can meet students from diverse backgrounds, countries, and cultures.


I was particularly attracted by the range of courses on offer. I visited various universities while I was trying to reach a decision, including the Hebrew University and the Faculty of Law here. I met with several faculty members to hear about the program and my impression of the course and the people I met was outstanding.”


Why did you choose to come to the Faculty of Law at the Hebrew University?

“I visited Israel several times in the past and had a great time, and I’m sure I’ll enjoy myself this time, too!”


Do you plan to concentrate on a particular subject during your studies?

“I think the range of courses covers a very broad spectrum of issues in international law. All the areas are interesting and challenging. Until now I have mainly focused on international law in the broad sense, along with international commercial law. But I think I’ll take the opportunity to study the international laws relating to the various conflicts in the Middle East, including those that affect Israel, of course. I’m also very interested to learn more about transitional justice, which I didn’t have a chance to study in Heidelberg.”


I think we can assume that you won’t be ending your academic career with a master’s degree. What are your plans for the future?

“I’m thinking about going on to study for a doctorate in law, although I haven’t decided where. Maybe I’ll go back to Germany, but on the other hand – perhaps I’ll stay here in Israel.”



*Further information about the program is available at www.llm-hu.com/

The Minerva Center for Human Rights: Internalizing International Law in Israel

The Minerva Center for Human Rights: Internalizing International Law in Israel


The Minerva Center for Human Rights at the Hebrew University has initiated numerous academic projects and strives to enhance the students’ understanding of human rights issues * We decided to focus on one of the Center’s programs that aims to enhance the internalization of international human rights laws in Israel * The program, funded by the European Union, includes tri-partite encounters between government, civil society and academia, as well as a research group and the preparation of research resources for human rights law 


Meetings between Government, Civil Society and Academia

The State of Israel has signed seven international treaties addressing the full range of human rights: civil rights, social rights, prevention of torture, elimination of racial discrimination, and the rights of women, children, and people with disabilities. The state is committed to reporting once every few years to the expert monitoring committees the UN establishes for each treaty, detailing its progress on the various issues and answering specific questions. The state is required to prepare a report relating to each treaty describing the state of human rights in each field and to answer questions from the international monitoring committees. After submitting the report, representatives of the state visit the UN in Geneva for a discussion with the relevant professional committee. Like all signatory countries, Israel presents its position, and at the end of the process the committee prepares a concluding report, including recommendations for improvements.  



Professor Tomer Broude



Professor Tomer Broude, an expert on international law, is responsible for the program, together with Faculty Dean Professor Yuval Shany, who is himself a member of the UN Human Rights Committee, monitoring the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Professor Broude explains the process: “The monitoring committees cannot oblige the state to take any particular course of action, but their work highlights areas where there are gaps between the international undertaking the state has assumed and the reality on the ground. The committees in Geneva also turn to civil society organizations from across the political spectrum in order to obtain ‘shadow reports’ by way of an alternative source of information to the state’s report. This can create an unnecessarily constructive situation, but this process also offers an opportunity to improve the internalization of human rights laws.”


In some countries, the government itself invites civil society organizations to consult and engage in discussions on the human rights situation before submitting its reports to the monitoring committees. In Israel, cooperation between the government and civil society organizations is limited in most fields. As part of the project, the Minerva Center has taken on the goal of redressing this situation by organizing tri-partite meetings between government, civil society and academia. The meetings, which are coordinated by Attorney Shlomi Balaban, aim to enhance the cooperation between the state and civil society organizations in the reporting process. “The idea of cooperation is unprecedented in Israel,” Broude emphasizes. “These are organizations that usually encounter the representatives of the state in court in the context of conflicts and confrontation. But we have managed to launch an experimental process whereby, before the reports are submitted to the UN, the state presents a draft of the main points to the organizations and a discussion is held in Israel.” About a month ago, a meeting of this kind was held to discuss Israel’s report to the Human Rights Committee. Some twenty organizations participated in the meeting, which yielded some positive outcomes: “The participants listened very carefully to each other. In some cases the government representatives heard facts or figures from the organizations that they had not been aware of. They continued to sit together for a long time after the meeting in order to share information and write down further details,” Broude reports enthusiastically. For their part, the organizations heard explanations about problems in implementation in various fields that they had not previously recognized.


“We will hold several further meetings in this framework,” Broude notes. “After the committee prepares its report, we hold a concluding event to see how we can move things forward. For example, we held an event to promote the establishment of a national human rights commission and the enactment of a Basic Law defining social rights after the Social and Economic Rights Committee recommended that Israel should take these steps.” Broude acknowledges that these processes take time, but the hope is that the work will eventually bear fruit and will continue without the need for academic intervention.


A Research Group and a Groundbreaking Research Aid

The Minerva Center is working on several fronts to promote the internalization of the human rights laws to which Israel is committed and to improve the way these are reflected in Israel’s domestic legal system. All the treaties Israel has signed require various levels of induction into Israeli law. The Knesset is responsible for the legislative process, but in many cases there is no positive induction and a gap results. In order to meet this goal, and in addition to the meetings described above, a research group has been established. Led by Professor David Kretzmer and funded by the European Union, the group aims to produce several articles analyzing weak points in Israel’s absorption of the treaties. “The research group will analyze various junctions at which Israeli law has still failed to internalize its international undertakings,” Professor Broude explains.


As part of the effort to improve the way the human rights treaties are reflected in domestic law, the Minerva Center is preparing a pioneering research aid that will make international human rights law accessible to Israeli attorneys and jurists. Attorney Danny Levitan is coordinating this project.




Attorney Danny Levitan

“We are establishing an online information system using a ‘Wiki’ format. This is an index that aims to collate information in a single place. This means that anyone will be able to search for a particular concept in human rights, such as social rights, family rights, equality, and so forth. The system has a ‘tree’ structure – it is divided into sections and detailed sub-sections including links to the official sources in international law. In addition to the references, users will also have access to Hebrew translations of much of the material that has not previously been able in this language,” Levitan explains.


The proposed index aims to simply access to international material and to provide a research aid cross-referencing Israeli law and the international law to which Israel is committed. This is an innovative project and the first pilot open to the public will be launched shortly.



At present, much of the material is not available in Hebrew. The government has translated the treaties and the reports of the monitoring committees, but the “General Comments,” which form an important legal source, are not available in Hebrew, and the same is true of the conclusions of the various committees. Some of the conclusions of the committees are currently being translated by the Ministry of Justice and the site will include links to these translations. The commentaries have been translated for the first time as part of the project. The translated sources aim to overcome the language barrier and the difficulty in locating material dispersed around different international websites.

“Researchers in the Field:” A First in Israel – A Book on Private International Law

“Researchers in the Field:” A First in Israel – A Book on Private International Law


After an extensive period of research, Faculty member Professor Celia Fassberg is about to publish a book on Private International Law * This is the first comprehensive work on the subject published in Hebrew * We spoke to Professor Fassberg, who told us about the book, the writing process, and her fascination with Private International Law


Professor Fassberg, what is the idea behind the book?

“It is a comprehensive book on Private International Law - a research book, and a reference work. It is a research book in the sense that it proposes a theoretical approach to the field and its problems, and it is a reference work in the sense that it is designed to provide systematic and comprehensive responses to practical questions.”


What is special about the book?

“What’s special is that there is no other book in Israel that encompasses the entire field on both a theoretical and a positive level. There are articles and essays, but there is no comprehensive work. My book seeks to fill this gap. In the theoretical section I try to present the major questions that characterise the field and the components of any legal response to them. For example, in the field of adjudicatory jurisdiction, the main question is: when are Israeli courts authorised to decide a particular case, and why? 



Professor Celia Fassberg


I draw on other legal systems and theoretical literature in order to answer this question and to extrapolate the components of the law of jurisdiction:  different kinds of jurisdictional factors are used for different kinds of jurisdiction, and the jurisdictional factors are applied to these different types of jurisdiction taking into account a variety of considerations – fairness toward the litigants, efficiency of the proceeding, and so forth - all on the basis of a general systemic approach towards the role of the judge in decisions regarding jurisdiction. A comparative approach reveals these different components and the relationship between them, and suggests how a coherent set of rules can be constructed. The chapters on Israeli law provide a critical and comparative analysis of the rules of Private International Law in Israel in each field of law.”


Can you explain the structure of the book?

“The book is based in part on the leading English work in the field (Dicey, Morris and Collins, The Conflict of Laws), which is updated every few years. It differs from that work in the sense that English legal literature tends to be primarily positivist and descriptive, whereas my book has a strong emphasis on the theoretical and comparative aspects of the field. The book is divided into three sections. The first section is completely theoretical and presents the different branches of Private International Law from a comparative legal perspective. The second section takes an overall look at each of these branches in Israeli law in the light of the theoretical chapters. The third section analyses the Israeli rules of Private International Law in each of the fields of substantive law.”


Why did you choose this particular structure?

“Mainly because there is no comprehensive writing on this subject in Israel that can serve as a basis  for examination of the existing rules. Private International Law addresses three separate areas: international adjudicatory jurisdiction; choice of law; and foreign judgments. The first two sections of the book discuss the theory of adjudicatory jurisdiction, the theory of choice of law, and the theory of foreign judgments' law. In these sections I  identify the fundamental structure of each field and its different components, and then suggest how they can be combined in a coherent way. The second section examines whether each branch of this field is properly constructed in Israeli law. My conclusion is that this is not the case. The third section takes each field of substantive law and examines the rules of Israeli law regarding international adjudicatory jurisdiction, choice of law, and foreign judgments in that field. This structure offers both an overall theoretical perspective and an analysis of existing law.”


What materials did you use?

“I used English, Swiss, Italian, French, German and sometimes American materials, as well as materials from international conventions – mainly European – in order to illuminate the field.”


Did you identify a specific need in Israel for a book of this kind?

“I think there is a need for a book of this kind in Israel. In the Israeli academic world there is a debate about whether it is worthwhile to write in Hebrew and to write about Israeli law. I believe that it is extremely important to contribute to legal literature in Hebrew and to write critical texts about Israeli law. This is a field that few lawyers understand, it’s a difficult field, and I think it is important to have a basic work of this kind so that we can develop private international law properly. We cannot rely solely on foreign literature. It’s true that we have drawn heavily from English law in this field, but English law is no longer a formal source for Israeli law, and it is no longer suited to that role. Until the 1960s it was possible to draw rules from English law and adapt them to local conditions, but this is no longer possible. We have developed our own unique system, and we have to construct rules of Private International Law that are adapted to it.”


What process is involved in publishing a book of this kind?

“This is a huge project that I have been working on intensively for many years, first on the conceptual level and in research and then in writing. It is a project that I could only work on after many years of teaching and research. This is a field that takes a long time to learn since it has three distinct branches, it applies to all areas of private law, and it requires frequent reference to comparative law. For example, in order properly to evaluate any given case we need to know whether it is possible to sue in another country, and what law would apply there. In other words, we need to take other countries' legal systems into account and ask how they would approach the problem, and why. It’s only in the last few years that I have reached a point where I feel I can see the field in its entirety. Even so, while I was writing the book I realized how much I do not know and I learned a lot. It has been a fascinating process of learning and I really enjoyed it, although the last year – the technical preparation of the book for printing – was extremely difficult.”


Is there any aspect or chapter in the book that you feel particularly close to or that is of special interest to you?

“It’s hard to say. I wrote a book about foreign judgments in the past, and that’s an area I have always loved. In this book I constructed the chapters on foreign judgments differently. It was an interesting challenge to present the material anew and without repeating myself. I have also always loved the field of choice of law. I was never particularly interested in problems of adjudicatory jurisdiction, but once again the process of writing the book helped me come to appreciate how fascinating they can be. It was always clear to me that choice of law and foreign judgments raise fascinating questions. Our attitude towards foreign law reflects in part our attitude towards domestic law and towards law in general, and our attitude towards foreign judgments reflects our approach to litigation and judicial decision-making, as well as towards the character of domestic decisions. I was happy to discover that the field of international adjudicatory jurisdiction also raises ‘big’ questions. For example, how do we regard the role of the state in litigation and the realization of rights, and how do we perceive law? In the field of jurisdiction, we ask why the state takes jurisdiction to decide a given case; what connection is required and what connection is sufficient to justify it in doing so? These rules must also reflect the way we think about law, about the state, about relations between the state and the individual – whether local or foreign – and about the relations between states.


People tend to belittle procedural law, but it is the heart of any legal system; it reveals the way we understand what law is and what rights are. I don’t like it when people say that Private International Law is procedural law, because this isn’t the case. But it does share with procedural law this fascinating quality:  it expresses fundamental attitudes towards the essential nature of law in any system.”


Lastly, why private international law?

“Apart from the complexity of the field, what is special about it is that it highlights the relative character of law. It shows that you can never simply declare ‘I have a right.’ The existence of a right depends on the perspective from which you are speaking. You might have a right in Israel under Israeli law, but in Germany they might not recognize this right, or they might recognize it in a slightly different way. Private international law is a kind of legal ‘theory of relativity,’ and to me it is the most exciting and challenging field of law.”