© privat


Michael Mousa Karayanni, LL.D., S.J.D.

Bruce W. Wayne Professor of Law

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Born in 1964 in Kafr Yasif, Israel
Studied Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, George Washington University National Law Center, and Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan


A Multicultural Entrapment: Religion and State Among the Palestinian Arabs in Israel

In the nation state structure that assumes an official status for the majority religion, as is the case in Israel, there is a dominant constitutional force deeming the jurisdiction of minority religions a form of multicultural "accommodation". This accommodation, in turn, gives rise to a unique, acute, undetected and heretofore unstudied individual predicament for vulnerable minority members who are subject to the patriarchal religious norms of their respective religions. This is the "multicultural entrapment" that emerges, first, in light of the substantive jurisdictional authority held by the minority religious communities. Second, the Israeli nation state structure actively boxes individuals in their respective religious identities, thus severely limiting the civic sphere that seeks to compete for the well-being of all citizens alike and to offer an alternative to which minority members can at least opt out to. Moreover, evaluated in reference to what I call "multicultural qualifications", the religious jurisdictional authority of the Palestinian Arab minority does not qualify as multicultural, but is in fact a control mechanism. Nonetheless, institutional interests, including those of minority leadership, work to mask this jurisdictional authority as a liberal minority accommodation. Identifying the individual predicament that results from religious jurisdiction over individual personal status as a multicultural entrapment enhances the prospects of offering mechanisms to alleviate it. By addressing this multicultural entrapment, the proposed project departs from the existing discussion, as it focuses on individual predicaments of religious minority members in the context of a nation state, rather than in the usual context of a Western liberal democracy; and it departs from the discussion of religious minorities in nation states by exposing oppression as a consequence of over-accommodation, rather than in the usual context of under-accommodation.

Recommended Reading

Karayanni, Michael. "Multiculturalism as Covering: On the Accommodation of Minority Religions in Israel." The American Journal of Comparative Law (16 November 2018). doi.org/10.1093/ajcl/avy039.
-. Conflicts in a Conflict: a Conflict of Laws Case Study on Israel and the Palestinian Territories. Oxford et al.: Oxford University Press, 2014.
-. "Groups in Context: An Ontology of a Muslim Headscarf in a Nazareth Catholic School and a Sephardic Ultra-Orthodox Student in Immanuel." Law & Social Inquiry 41, 4 (2016): 789-1115.

Publications from the Fellows' Library

Karayanni, Michael Mousa ( Cary, NC, 2018)
Multiculturalism as covering : on the accommodation of minority religions in Israel

Karayanni, Michael Mousa ( Malden, Mass., 2016)
Groups in context : an ontology of a Muslim headscarf in a Nazareth Catholic school and a Sephardic ultra‐orthodox student in Immanuel

Karayanni, Michael Mousa ( Oxford, 2012)
Two concepts of group rights for the Palestinian-Arab minority under Israel's constitutional definition as a “Jewish and democratic” state

Karayanni, Michael Mousa ( Buffalo, NY, 2010)
In the best interests of the group : religious matching under Israeli adoption law