Alick Isaacs – The Social Contract

Alick Isaacs – The Social Contract

The framing I would give to this question is connected to the ongoing process in Israeli politics of undermining (or exposing the limitations of the Western notion of…) the social contract.

The same problems the West has dealing with radical others are reflected in the inability of the current Israeli political system to find modes of co-existence with elements inside Israel that feel excluded from the ethos of the social contract as it currently stands.

Thankfully, this is an internal conflict that rarely turns openly violent. Perhaps we have the consolidating impact of our enemies on the outside to thank for that. But the challenge itself is fundamental and it expresses itself in the ongoing discourse about what is a legitimate concern to bring to the public sphere.

The state of Israel today is a fascinating case study of a society that is in radical conflict over the very fundamentals of the social contract. Multiple voices and factions inside Israel are complaining that, as it stands, the social contract leaves them out.

In this context it is clear why Israel is engaged in an internal struggle over such fundamentals as; the legitimacy of the court system, the authority of the Knesset, the entitlement of the government to legislate in favor of the concerns of special interest groups, the right of the government to determine economic policy that serves the primary interests of the state itself (which in and of itself calls into question the notion that the interests of the state are equivalent to the interests of the citizens), the status quo between religious and secular in the army, the boundaries of what are considered legitimate public expressions of religious freedom in the streets, the boundaries of what might be considered “universal” human rights, the status of Non-Jewish citizens, the independence of the press and more.

Notice how many of these complaints go to the very core of the social contract.


The writer is the co-founder of Siach Shalom, and writer of A Prophetic Peace.

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