Israel and International Law Program: Mishpatim

Mishpatim Canada is a program to introduce Canadian law students to Israel and its legal system. It was launched in the Spring of 2011 under the leadership of Dr. Bryan Schwartz, Asper Professor of International Law at the University of Manitoba. It received stellar reviews from the two dozen University of Manitoba law students who participated, eliciting comments regarding its “life changing” nature. Many would later refer to it as the most memorable part of their law program. See this link for more information.

In 2012, the program was again delivered, once again to highly positive feedback. The first steps were taken to expand the scope of the program, by including some students from the Asper School of Business and the University of Saskatchewan law school. The long term goal is to preserve its character as a signature program of the Manitoba law school, but also expand the impact and reach by making places available to law and MBA students throughout Canada.

The theme of the course this past year was “Traditional Peoples and Newcomers in the Start-Up Nation.” Students learn about the legal, political and social framework in which, against seeming impossible odds, Israel has become a world leader in the science, engineering and business of high technology. They visit start-ups, universities at the forefront of innovation, and hear from experts on topics such as venture capital and intellectual property rights. Within this context, they also explore the legal and social challenges of integrating into this society with communities such as ultra-orthodox Jews, Israeli Arabs, Druze, migrant workers, and African refugees.

The panoramic and searching exploration of Israeli law and society gives students the opportunity to reflect on how Canada copes with comparable challenges, such as becoming a word leader in innovation, and integrating its own traditional peoples and newcomers into a 21st century economy. Students also come away with a muhc enhanced appreciation of the complexity and vitatlity of Israel. With this comes the potential to better understand the headlines and developments seen in the news, or appreciate the nuances in the content of the debate over Israeli policies that continue to infuse life on university campuses and in society generally.