Gavison, Ruth

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GAVISON, RUTH (1945– ), Israeli jurist. Gavison was born in Jerusalem and spent her childhood years in Haifa. In 1969 she received her LL.B. with distinction and in 1970 she graduated in philosophy and economics, both degrees from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. From 1969 she taught in the Faculty of Law of the Hebrew University. In 1970 she clerked under Justice B. Halevi of the Israel Supreme Court and in 1971 she was admitted to the Israeli bar. In the same year she finished her LL.M. with distinction at the Hebrew University and in 1975 she received her Ph.D. in legal philosophy from Oxford University. In 1984 she was named to the H. Cohn Chair for Human Rights at the Hebrew University and in 1990 she became full professor. In addition to her academic career, Gavison was active in the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, serving as its president from 1996 to 1999. In 1997 she joined the International Commission of Jurists and the Israel Democracy Institute. She also served as a member of several public committees, such as the Kahan Committee on Privacy in 1976, a public committee on Orthodox-secular relations in Israel from 1987 to 1990, and the Shamgar Committee on the Appointment of the Attorney-General and Related Issues in 1997–98. Gavison is a familiar public figure in Israel owing to her participation in numerous media debates on legal issues. She received the Zeltner Prize for Legal Research in 1997 and the emet prize in 2003. Her fields of interest are philosophy of law and legal theories and processes. She published numerous books and articles, among them Discretion in Law Enforcement: The Power of the Attorney General to Stay Criminal Proceedings (1991); Human Rights in Israel (1995); The Constitutional Revolution: A Reality or a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy? (1998); Israel: A Jewish and Democratic State (1999); and The Role of the Supreme Court in Israeli Society (with M. Kremnitzer and Y. Dotan, 2000). In 2000 she published together with Rabbi Ya'akov Madan a document defining secular-religious relations in Israel. Gavison is identified with the right wing and has criticized Supreme Court decisions. She called for a curbing of the legal activism spearheaded by Supreme Court President Aharon *Barak. She believes that the Supreme Court cannot act as the highest moral authority of the state, but should respect the political system and its decisions and the Jewish character of the state. In 2005 her name came up as a candidate for the Supreme Court, which led to much heated debate.


Y. Yoaz, "Ruthie's Agenda," in: Haaretz (Dec. 2, 2005).

[Shaked Gilboa (2nd ed.)]