Constructing “Private” Historical Justice in State-Building

Manal Totry-Jubran


Wealthy philanthropic individuals operating within private law have
been largely absent from the historical justice narrative of states in
transition and, consequently, from normative discussion regarding
the justifcation of their actions under the auspices of the market. This
Article seeks to fll this void by examining the “private” historical
justice of Jewish state-building prior to the establishment of Israel.
Specifcally, it focuses on the legal history of Baron Edmond de
Rothschild’s settlement project during the Ottoman and Mandate
periods and investigates the project’s normative implications. The
Baron was a fundamental actor in the design of the Palestinian/Israeli
space, as he supported existing Jewish settlements and established
new ones. He also built several public institutions that continue to
exist to date. I argue that the Baron’s settlement project needs to be
addressed from a multidimensional aspect with regard to different
groups that were affected by it. On the one hand, his settlement project
was just towards the Jewish settlement because it provided a shelter
for Jewish immigrants who fled Europe, and it realized the Jews’ right
of self-determination. On the other hand, his project resulted in the
coercive displacement of an underprivileged local Arab population
called the fellaheen and unjustly infringed on their territorial rights.

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