By Chiara Jurczak
This morning, we got to experience a lecture with Prof. Menachem Mautner from Tel Aviv University, where he talked to us about the evolution of the Israeli Supreme Court’s jurisprudence and the culture wars in this state. One point which I found extremely interesting was Prof. Mautner’s claim that the law is like an anthology, a way to track history and the shifts within a culture. In his book, Prof. Mautner also compared the law to a language; it is formed, shaped by the people it is employed by, and cannot be replicated or directly applied to the people who are outside of the culture operating under it. This was an entirely new way for me to think about the law; I had always considered it to be something bureaucratic, that ruled over people rather than being created by them. Getting to hear from people talking about the development of the law in Israel’s brief history has been very eye-opening, as I had never really thought about or experienced a society that is still figuring out so much of its law, and where setting precedent is even more significant than countries that have been doing so for the last hundreds or thousands of years.
Prof. Mautner also touched on the incredibly different voices that exist within this relatively new state, and how the conflict within the country is deeply affecting the law and the way it is applied here. Getting to explore the city of Tel Aviv more after hearing Prof. Mautner talk was incredible, and while talking with some other students on the dialogue, we all began expressing our surprise at the diversity and life in this city. All that most of us hear about or read about Israel is the deep division between Palestinians and Jews, but rarely do we get any insight into how people live day to day. We got to explore the markets Shuk ha-Carmel and Nakhalat Binyamin, the former a permanent market that is open all week with a combination of food, jewelry, and clothes stand, and the latter a bi-weekly crafts market. There was so much color and life at every corner of the market, and it was so beautiful to see the different shop owners interact with one another and with their customers in such a natural, joyous manner. We even (kinda, not really but almost) participated in a little dance session that spontaneously erupted in Shuk ha-Carmel. Overall, getting to see the market and walk back to the hotel via the very lively Dizengoff street helped us feel more connected to the city life in Tel-Aviv, and changed the way we’ll think about this place from now on.