UT Professor Examines German-Israeli Security in New Publication

Published: Oct 23, 2008
Within hours of declaring independence in 1948, the nation of Israel endured a massive attack from five Arab armies seeking the new country’s downfall. The subsequent war established what came to be known as Israel’s “military model of anti-terrorism,” according to James Beckman, assistant professor of law and justice.

He examines this model in a chapter of a new anthology timed to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Jewish state. Beckman compares Israel’s approach to the “criminal justice model,” adopted by the country of Germany. The anthology, titled “German-Israeli Security Relations — Past, Present and Future,” and published by the German Academic Association for Security Studies, is the first scholarly work to offer an in-depth comparison of the security policies of the two countries.

Beckman was the sole American contributor to the book, and his work appears alongside that of a former Israeli ambassador to Germany, a member of the German parliament, two brigadier generals of the Israeli armed forces, and other prominent figures.

“One of the many things that is neat and cutting edge about this project is that much of the details regarding the German-Israeli security relationship over the last 30 years has been kept secret, and there is very little scholarship on this field generally,” Beckman said.

Beckman’s chapter focuses on the marked difference between the way the respective countries seek to combat terrorism.

Beckman explains that since its founding, Israel has been the target of nearly constant hostilities that have led it to take a military approach in responding to perceived threats against the state. Germany, in contrast, takes the approach of what is known as the “criminal justice model,” prosecuting acts of terrorism as individual crimes such as homicide, arson, battery, etc. Beckman examines the nature of both of these approaches and the effect that their use has on the overall relationship between the two nations.

“What is especially fascinating in all of this, is that the genesis of a very positive German-Israeli relationship comes as a result of the horrific barbarities of the Holocaust,” Beckman said. He further explained that German officials publically announced in 2008 the existence of a secret security relationship between the two countries, which was created out of a sense of responsibility toward Israel in light of Germany’s prior conduct.

Beckman Book CoverEditors of the book were aware of Beckman’s previous book titled Comparative Legal Approaches to Homeland Security and Anti-Terrorism (Ashgate Publishing, 2007), which contains chapters dealing with homeland security of both Germany and Israel. Beckman expanded on this research for the new anthology.

“One hopes that the book has some impact,” Beckman said. “There is just so little out there in terms of a comparative approach and a global approach to the study of anti-terrorism.”

Dr. Beckman specializes in constitutional, international and criminal law. He has published numerous historical and law-related articles on a diverse array of topics.

Beckman has been a licensed member of the Florida Bar since 1993. Prior to coming to UT, he practiced law with the Treasury Department in Washington, D.C., and with the United States Army as an active-duty judge advocate.