Volume 3, Issue 3, (Originally Published on Monday 18th March 2013)
This past summer, three MLS students travelled to Israel for a unique experience in the study of law.
Third-year Bronwen Ewens, second-year Louise McNeil and I took part in the summer course Mishpatim: Israeli and International Law, which ran for most of January 2013 at Hebrew University’s Mount Scopus campus in Jerusalem.
Every year several MLS students join other Australian law students to undertake the Mishpatim course, which comprises a broad overview of Israeli domestic law and the state’s interplay with international law.
This year, 17 students in all participated, with Dr Daniel Ohana of Hebrew University’s law faculty, a specialist in criminal law, leading the class instruction. Ohana and a number of visiting academics and guest lecturers provided the bulk of learning, in addition to several field trips to the Israeli Supreme Court, the religious women’s legal service Yad L’Isha Legal Aid Center and the Holocaust museum Yad Vashem.
In their spare time, students took advantage of their four-day class weeks to organise outings in Jerusalem, Israel and the West Bank. Students had the opportunity to see firsthand the diverse and often confronting reality on the ground in a country less than half the size of Tasmania.
The stunning beauty of the land and its cities contrasted with the dire measures taken by a state racked by an on-going conflict, now simmering, with the occupied territories. For a student interested in current affairs and the relationship of power and law in domestic and international contexts, the Mishpatim course offers an unparalleled opportunity to study in a locale deeply important to histories past and in the making.
With such a tight-knit group of fellow students, the course also provides a chance to meet other highly motivated and curious minds and to discover a region and society charged with frustrating conflicts, populated by fascinating and friendly people, with an almost inexhaustible list of sites to explore.
Applications for the 2014 summer course open soon and close in October 2013. More information is available from the Australian Friends of the Hebrew University (http://www.austfhu.org.au/mishpatim.html), who coordinate the Mishpatim program with Hebrew University and also provide financial assistance to students in need.