Book Reading and Discussion with Michael Sfard, Professor Arthur Applbaum, and Harvard Student Leader Isabel Slavinsky.
A farmer in the West Bank, cut off from his fields by Israel’s separation barrier, wants to petition the courts to build a gate in the wall. But while the gate would help the farmer harvest his crop, would it not also confer legitimacy on the wall itself? For Michael Sfard, pursuing justice means encountering such dilemmas on a daily basis.
This groundbreaking work examines the ethics and challenges of legal work for human rights. Recounting key cases and issues, Sfard lays bare the reality of the occupation and exposes its surreal legal structures. With emotional force and penetrating analysis, he offers both a moral reckoning with the occupation and a blueprint for a hopeful future.
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Michael Sfard is one of Israel’s leading human rights lawyers. A former conscientious objector, he received the Emil Grunzweig Human Rights Award and an Open Society Fellowship. His writing on human rights has appeared in The New York Times, Haaretz, The Independent, and Foreign Policy. He lives in Tel Aviv.
Professor Arthur Applbaum is Adams Professor of Political Leadership and Democratic Values. His work on political legitimacy, civil and official disobedience, and role morality has appeared in journals such as Philosophy & Public Affairs, Journal of the American Medical Association,Harvard Law Review, Ethics, and Legal Theory. He is the author of Ethics for Adversaries, a book about the morality of roles in public and professional life. Applbaum has written about the ethics of executioners and of butlers, and he has consulted to the government about the ethics of spies. Recent articles include “Legitimacy without the Duty to Obey” and “Forcing a People to Be Free.” Applbaum recently completed a political philosophy novel for teenagers and hopes to complete a book on political legitimacy for adults soon. He was Acting Director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard, where he currently directs the undergraduate fellowships in ethics. Applbaum established the core course in political ethics at the Kennedy School, and also teaches the political theory field seminar in the Government Department and a freshman seminar, “What Happened in Montaigne’s Library on the Night of October 23, 1587, and Why Should Political Philosophers Care?” He has been a member of Harvard’s Advisory Committee on Shareholder Responsibility and chairs the ethics advisory board of a stem cell research foundation. Applbaum holds degrees from Princeton and Harvard. He was a Fulbright Scholar in Jerusalem, a Faculty Fellow in Ethics at Harvard, and a Rockefeller Fellow at Princeton University’s Center for Human Values.
Isabel Slavinsky, originally from Columbia, MD, is a sophomore at Harvard University studying Government and Statistics. She is a nationally-competitive policy debater who travels monthly to compete at inter-collegiate tournaments. She spent the previous summer in Israel researching public opinion on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.