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Laserson, Max

LASERSON, MAX

LASERSON, MAX (1887–1951), Latvian jurist, historian, and Zionist. Born in Jelgava, Laserson was appointed lecturer in law at the University of Petrograd in 1916. In Alexander Kerensky's provisional government of 1917 he was deputy director of national minorities in the Ministry of the Interior. In 1920 he returned to Latvia, now an independent state, and became professor of law at the Riga commercial college. Laserson was also prominent in Jewish affairs, and from 1922 to 1931 represented the Socialist Zionist (Ẓe'irei Zion-Hitaḥdut) faction in the Latvian parliament. With the advent of the right-wing regime of Kartis Ulmanis in 1934 and the suppression of national minorities, Laserson was arrested. On his release he left Latvia for Palestine, where he helped to found the Tel Aviv School of Law and Economics. In 1939 he immigrated to the United States. There he lectured at Columbia University and was head of the department of law at the Institute of Jewish Affairs.

Laserson's principal writings were concerned with legal theory, especially Revolyutsiya i pravo ("Revolution and Law," 1926), and Obshchaya teoriya prava ("General Theory of Law," 1930). He also wrote on minority rights and, in his later years, on the problem of relations between Russia and the West, his books including Russia and the Western World (1945), and The American Impact on Russia (1950). He was also the author of two works in Hebrew, Ha-Mandat, ha-Konstituẓyah ve-ha-Mo'eẓah ha-Meḥokeket ("The Mandate, the Constitution, and the Legislative Council of Palestine," 1936), and Ha-Filosofyah ha-Mishpatit shel ha-Rambam ("The Legal Philosophy of Maimonides," 1939).

bibliography:

Yahadut Latvia (1953), 423–6.

[Ezra Mendelsohn]

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