Israel still maintains the personal status system (millet) that it inherited from the Ottoman Empire under which the courts of fourteen ethno-religious communities are granted exclusive jurisdiction over matters of marriage and divorce and concurrent jurisdiction with the civil courts in regard to such matters as maintenance and inheritance. But, why Israel, as a highly centralized and democratic polity, has maintained the old millet system which applies different laws to people from different ethno-religious backgrounds and holds men and women to different legal standards? And, how has such a plural application of law affected fundamental rights and freedoms of Israeli citizens? In brief, the Article argues that Israel utilized the old millet system in the nation-building process as an instrument of vertical segmentation and horizontal homogenization. However, the system has encountered with some serious challenges in producing its intended goals. This becomes particularly visible when we take a closer look at the field of human rights where individuals constantly challenge the legitimacy of Stateimposed religious laws, and seek to advance rights and liberties which are denied to them under the current system by engaging in various strategies of resistance.
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