Prof. Ruth Gavison is this year's Israel Prize laureate for legal research, Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar announced yesterday. The prize jury, headed by Prof. Ruth Lapidoth, wrote in its decision that in her work, Gavison delved deeply into the central issues of constitutional law in Israel, and "confronted with courage and depth the shaping of Israel's identity as a Jewish and democratic state."
The jury also noted that Gavison's work "paves the ways for coexistence between secular and religious Jews, as well as between Jews and non Jews in Israel. Prof. Gavison has engaged in her research in defending human rights, and especially the rights to privacy, freedom of expression and equality, and has combined her ideas and commitment with practical work on the ground."
Born in 1945, Gavison completed her doctorate in legal philosophy at Oxford in 1975, concentrating on issues related to privacy. She taught at the Hebrew University's law school from 1974 to 2010, and held the Haim Cohen Chair of Human Rights.
Gavison co-founded the Association for Civil Rights Israel and served as a senior fellow at the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem, where she researched issues in democracy and the relationship between law and politics. She also served as a senior fellow at the Israeli Democracy Institute, from 1995 to 2003.
Gavison was also a member of several public bodies, most memorably the Winograd Committee, which examined the lessons of the Second Lebanon War. She was a candidate in 2005 to become a Supreme Court justice, but then-Supreme Court President Aharon Barak spurred controversy when he remarked that he thought her "agenda" did not fit well with the court's.
Gavison was a well-known opponent of Barak's activist line and in particular the "constitutional revolution" he launched, when ruling that the court has the authority to revoke Knesset legislation.
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