Supreme Court “reform” in Israel: no saints on either side

Even those who, like myself, believe that the judiciary branch of government is overly powerful in Israel — verging at times on kritarchy [=rule by judges] — are dismayed by the hell-bent way a “reform” that amounts to the opposite evil [ochlocracy, or dictatorship of the 51%] is being rammed through by the coalition of Kachsuckers and Khomeinists hard-right and ultra-religious parties. The writers of this open letter suspect that Netanyahu is so obsessed with his own legal troubles that he’s going along with this cure that is worse for the disease. I wish I were more confident that they were wrong.

But neither do I buy the fiction that all elements in the senior judiciary are pure as the driven snow (or, as one says in Hebrew, “a prayer shawl that is all purple”/talit she-kula tekhelet). Case in point: now two heads of the Israel Bar Association in a row have had to step down due to allegations that they parlayed the desire of ambitious female lawyers for appointments as judges into soliciting sexual favors from them.

So who does this writer side with when there are lechers to the left and rogues to the right? Neither: if a proposal is harebrained, I don’t care whether it comes from my best friend or Mrs. Arbel, and if a proposal is sound, I won’t shoot it down simply because I despise the proposer.[*]

Israel’s Attorney-General Gali Baharav-Miara just issued a lengthy legal opinion on the proposed changes.

In a searing position paper issued Thursday, Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara said the government’s plans to radically overhaul the Israeli legal and judicial system would give the government virtually unrestrained power, without providing any institutional protections for individual rights or for Israel’s democratic character.

And according to a statement by the Attorney General’s Office, Baharav-Miara told Justice Minister Yariv Levin that his legislation would “fundamentally change the democratic nature of the state’s governance.”

Baharav-Miara wrote in her paper that “such a dramatic process” should not be advanced without more thorough consultations and groundwork, a position that will likely complicate Levin’s effort to pass the reforms as government legislation.

Baharav-Miara’s lengthy 120-page legal opinion was drafted following a meeting she held with Levin three weeks ago, in which he asked her to submit her position on his highly controversial and far-reaching legislation within three days. [Who the heck does this azijnpisser think he is?]

“Every one of the proposed arrangements raises substantial problems that go to the root of the principle of the separation of powers, judicial independence and the professionalism of the judicial branch, protection of the rights of the individual, the rule of law, and the preservation of proper governance,” wrote the attorney general.

[…] She added that it would leave Israel’s system of government “without any institutional provision” against the improper use of legislation to circumvent judicial review “or to harm the core characteristics of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.” [..]

The attorney general said that “such substantial changes to the relationship between the three branches of government” must be carried out “in an organized and considered manner” and “through broad agreement,” adding that the process could not be advanced without more fundamental groundwork and consultations with relevant government officials and the Courts Administration.

This last determination will likely make it difficult for Levin to advance his legislation as a government — rather than a private — bill. A government bill enjoys a quicker and more streamlined process, but it also involves the Justice Ministry’s advisory division on legislation, which would adopt Baharav-Miara’s position and likely significantly delay the legislative process.

[*] For similar reasons, I still have all my Pink Floyd albums and regularly listen to them, even as I utterly despise Roger WankersWaters and his hatred for my country and (I suspect) people. Likewise, I can simultaneously despise the political views of Louis-Ferdinand Céline and yet recognize his novel Voyage au bout de la nuit (Journey to the end of the night) as the stunning masterpiece it is.

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