‘Everyone's Child’: The Challenge of Judging Israeli Soldiers in the Shadow of the Conflict

Law, Culture and the Humanities (2019): https://doi.org/10.1177/1743872119852078

Hebrew University of Jerusalem Legal Research Paper Forthcoming 19-29

47 Pages Posted: 2 Jul 2019 Last revised: 1 Sep 2020

See all articles by Renana Keydar

Renana Keydar

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Faculty of Law; Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Digital Humanities; Stanford University - School of Humanities & Sciences

Date Written: May 1, 2019

Abstract

This article addresses one of the most important and high-profile legal dramas in Israel in recent years: the trial of the soldier Elor Azaria, who shot and killed an incapacitated Palestinian assailant in the West Bank city of Hebron. It seeks to explain why the trial, which was compared to the O.J. Simpson trial in the USA, generated such unprecedented public controversy. I argue that rather than the ostensible central question of the soldier’s mens rea, the trial’s significance is in revealing competing images of the Israeli soldier upon his encounter with the law. Against the soldier’s legal categorization as a perpetrator (first accused, then convicted), the soldier’s supporters propagate an alternative image of the soldier as an innocent, victimized son, invoking the contested metaphor “everyone’s child.”

The article argues that this polarized view of the son-soldier nexus, foundational to the republican ethos of Jewish-Israeli society, affects the legal accountability of soldiers as official duty holders. I first consider David Grossman’s novel To the End of the Land (2008) as a text that imagines anew the hierarchies between the filial son and the national soldier, identifying two distinct yet intertwined processes of filialization and infantilization underlying this change. Based on the insights derived from the literary discourse, I move to offer a close reading of the court proceedings in the Azaria case, analyzing the law’s response to these conflicting images of the son-soldier.


Keywords: law and literature, criminal law, military law, lethal use of force, Israeli Palestinian conflict

Suggested Citation

Keydar, Renana, ‘Everyone's Child’: The Challenge of Judging Israeli Soldiers in the Shadow of the Conflict (May 1, 2019). Law, Culture and the Humanities (2019): https://doi.org/10.1177/1743872119852078, Hebrew University of Jerusalem Legal Research Paper Forthcoming 19-29, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3412754

Renana Keydar (Contact Author)

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Faculty of Law ( email )

Mt. Scopus
Jerusalem, 91905
Israel

HOME PAGE: http://https://en.law.huji.ac.il/people/renana-keydar

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Digital Humanities ( email )

The Hebrew University, Mt. Scopus
Jerusalem, 9190501
Israel

Stanford University - School of Humanities & Sciences ( email )

518 Memorial Way Building 1
Stanford, CA 94305
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.stanford.edu/dept/DLCL/cgi-bin/web/people/renana-keydar

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