Zionism, International Law, and the Paradoxes of Hersch Zvi Lauterpacht
The Law of Strangers: Critical Perspectives on Jewish Lawyering and International Legal Thought (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Forthcoming)
28 Pages Posted: 20 Jan 2019
Date Written: May 10, 2017
The history of modern international law is often told as a fable of Jewish moral cosmopolitanism. Many recent accounts of the lawyer, law professor, and judge Hersch Lauterpacht (1897-1960) confirm this narrative by positing that his pioneering ideas of international human rights, crimes against humanity, and the laws of armed conflict derive from his personal experience of antisemitism, the Holocaust, and refugeedom. Implicitly or explicitly, this meta-narrative frequently situates politics in opposition to law, and frames Zionism as the particularistic pole opposite the putative universalism of twentieth-century Jewish legal cosmopolitanism. This chapter challenges this view through a novel reconstruction of Lauterpacht’s biography based on newly discovered archival sources in English, Hebrew, Yiddish, and Polish. Against the trend towards apolitical or antipolitical narratives, this chapter argues that Lauterpacht’s political investment in the Zionist movement shaped his legal imagination of modern international law.
Keywords: international legal history, legal philosophy, migration, nationalism, historiography, sovereignty, positivism, cosmopolitanism
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation