Claris Harbon

Study program:
D.C.L. Law
Current affiliation:
McGill University

Claris is focusing on how civil disobedience initiated by women can affect legislation

Women Breaking the Law-Breaking With Silence. Redefinition of Women's Lawbreaking and Resistance to Injustices: From Lawbreaking to Lawmaking 

Claris Harbon offers a a new understanding of lawbreaking, particularly when committed by women, as a legitimate manifestation of resistance and civil disobedience, aimed at correcting injustices, and as a viable form of lawmaking. The main medium by which lawbreaking could be understood as a form of legitimate resistance is when the act in question falls within the scope of civil disobedience. However, she argues that due to its limited, decontextualizing and androcentric scope, civil disobedience cannot fully address other forms of lawbreaking that do not fall within its somewhat heroic criteria, especially when committed by women. 

Shifting the legal focus from the "heroic" stories of mass disobedience committed in public by politically motivated people, Claris concentrates, instead, on the daily, small, invisible, private, and secrete forms of resistance committed by women that do not fall within the scope of civil disobedience.

Particularly, she focuses on two comparative cases, involving resistance through land and through the womb. Namely, Mizrahi (Jews of Arab/Muslim Descent) women squatters in Israel, and women having, or helping to procure, illegal abortions in North-America, particularly in Canada and the US.

Being a critical and political person committed to social change, joining the legal academia, where Mizrahis, and particularly Mizrahi women, are extremely under represented, teaching in clinical programs and becoming involved in grassroots organizations, aimed at promoting self-empowerment of Palestinian, Mizrahi or Ethiopian women, were "natural choices" for Claris Harbon.

In 1998, upon graduating her LL.B (Honors), Claris Harbon interned at the Public Defender Office in Be'er Sheva. From 2000, soon after joining the Israeli Bar, she became engaged in legal scholarship and practice especially regarding underprivileged minorities, involving various aspects of the law including land and property law, public housing, criminal justice, environmental, employment, administrative and constitutional law. She was one of the first clinical legal professors in Israel, and founded several programs. Claris founded in 2000 the Jaffa Community Law Program at Tel - Aviv University Law School, an innovative community-based legal program which offered communitarian legal assistance to Mizrahis and Palestinians in Jaffa. 

Later, in 2006, she founded Tmura, the Israeli Legal Center Against Discrimination. Claris became active in the field of gender and women's self-empowerment, participated in numerous conferences and research on the subject, was appointed to Parliamentary Committees, joined several coalitions, published articles and poetry, taught academic courses, and became involved in numerous public interest activities in different NGOs. Claris is formerly among the founders and board members of "Itach" - Women Lawyers for Social Justice; currently holding senior positions as a volunteering board member in different NGOs, such as "Achoti" (Sister) - a feminist Mizrahi organization for underprivileged women; and was a board member in "The Democratic Mizrahi Rainbow". She founded several women's self-empowerment groups that are active to this day. 

In 2007 Claris graduated with her first LL.M degree from Tel - Aviv University Law School. In 2008 she graduated with a second LL.M. from Yale Law School, where she later worked as a visiting researcher. Claris was the first of her community to apply and to be admitted to Yale Law School.

Claris is about to publish a children's book, and a poetry book. She is currently writing her Doctorate Dissertation at McGill University Law School.

  • September 24, 2012
    Over the past few weeks, we have received much news from our community. Here is a short summary:
  • September 3, 2012
    2011 Trudeau scholar Claris Harbon will give three talks in the next days at the Thurgood Marshall Law School of the Texas Southern University in Houston. These talks will be mostly about her current research and work. Two of them will be live streamed; "The Global Black Women" and "The Black Panthers."  Instructions to access live streaming: 1. Please go to 2. Enter meeting name: TMSL3. Password: 123456
  • February 14, 2012
    "Intimate Critique in Indigenous Concepts", an event presented by 2011 Trudeau scholar Johnny Mack and moderated by 2011 Trudeau scholar Claris Harbon, will take place on February 27 at McGill University. See the official website for more details.
  • January 23, 2012
    An interview with Claris Harbon has been published in the German Magazine "Jungle World". The 2011 Trudeau Scholar was interviewed about the exclusion of women by Orthodox Jews in Israel. Please note that this article is in German.