Based on the author’s Hebrew-language doctoral dissertation, Civil Responsibility by Chemi Ben-Noon addresses the widely-discussed question of how America, Israel, and India contend with dissidents within their respective societies.
Ben-Noon, who teaches at Shaarey Mishpat Academic Center, starts with the controversial views of his mentor, the late Yeshayahu Leibowitz, and argues against them, honing a philosophy of compliance when — and only when — the state legislates reasonable policies.
Ben-Noon goes to great lengths to examine all perspectives on the violation of public legislature, drawing upon the rich literature on the difficulty of balancing a culture’s national security against the rights of its individuals to self-determination. Although laws are designed to protect those living by them, man must be free to articulate and respond to his own political insights into law and civility. Otherwise, society would be unable to preserve itself and protect its citizens.
The care with which the author presents his arguments can make Civil Responsibility a rather slow and tedious enterprise for the average reader. Acutely aware of the controversial nature of the topic of his book — particularly for Israeli audiences — Ben-Noon carefully maps out picture of the nature of protest to support the idea that nonviolent responses invariably must trump violent actions and reactions.
Civil Disobedience is a serious and stimulating technical work that will surely find its audience in law schools and universities.