für jüdische Geschichte und Kultur an der universität Leipzig

Reut Paz

Doktorandin/Bar Ilan University (Israel)

Stipendium des DAAD

Forschungsaufenthalt: 1. Oktober 2004 bis 31. Oktober 2005


Nationality and the Kingdom of Knowledge

The Dialogue of Nationality (the Legal) and Nationalism (the Political) in Jewish Intellectual Orientations and Thought


In my PhD dissertation I examine the practical dilemmas in Jewish international legal thought. My research looks back into history, at the formative stage of the international legal discipline, to investigate the extent to which the identity and cultural (civilisational) affiliation of some distinguished scholars affected their careers. It is my hypothesis that the Jewish consciousness embodies the management of Heimat tension, a tension that is revealed in Jewish dialectics on nationality (law) and nationalism (politics).  I intend to use several Jewish scholars' texts to see when, if and how this tension has affected their contribution to the fields of international law and politics.


Historically, Jews have tried to »transcend the bounds of nationality« in one way or another (see Arendt Hanna 1978, 67-68. Also see Freud 1938.) Jewish religious practices, cultural habits as well as diasporic circumstances fostered the vision of power as a fearsome phenomenon. Avoiding power – »the political« – one-way or another is not only superior, it is also morally desired (see for example the Talmudic story of 'Yavne and its Sages– the story is still used in a constitutive manner to this day with respect to the »powerlessness« attitude that Jews should prefer when facing an alternative of power.) With enlightenment’s awakening, professional Jewish lawyers/scholars had to re-imagine and bargain both their individual/collective identities simultaneously with relating to notion of nationality and territorial sovereignty.  From the basis of these considerations, my main interest is how following enlightenment, different generations of Jewish legal scholars carrying out research in international law have constructed/worked and applied the concept of nationality.  What is nationalism (the political) according to these scholars and how does it influence their legal understanding of nationality (the legal) and vice versa.  


Historically, in the diasporic Jewish scholarly tradition, the affiliation of the intellectual was to the »Kingdom of Knowledge and Knowing« (as a compensation for the lost Israel/Judea). The birth of the all-permeating idea of sovereign states and nationalism introduced into the Kingdom new elements: territorial affiliation, ownership and power politics. The problems of including these new elements into diasporic system building was reflected in problems that such Jewish scholars as Hans Kelsen, Hans J. Morgenthau and Hersch Lauterpacht had in adjusting the special defense of Israel into their “impartial” theoretical frameworks (see for example Kelsen's attributes to the Nuremberg Trial, Morgethau's on the Arab-Israeli Middle Eastern conflict, and Lauterpacht's contribution to the Declaration of Israeli Independence).  The extra dimension to the study in international law that my research attempts to bring in, is how Jewish legal scholars manage the multi-layered task of constructing an international system that is composed of sovereign nation when sovereignty is a foreign term to them.