Last Thursday, in an address before the Association for Public Law's annual conference at the Dead Sea, Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch launched an unhinged attack on the Knesset and the government.
Beinisch accused Israel's elected officials of "inciting against the judges" through their proposed legislation that would place minimal constraints on judicial power.
In her words, "For the past few years a campaign has been waged that is gaining strength whose goal is to weaken the judicial system and first and foremost the Supreme Court. This is a campaign of delegitimization being led by a number of politicians, members of Knesset and even government ministers. They provide the public with incorrect and misleading information that has deteriorated into incitement directed against the court, its members and its judicial work."
Beinisch claimed that the attempts by Israel's elected leaders to curb judicial power places the country on a slippery slope whose ultimate end is to destroy the values that underpin Israeli democracy. After she stepped down from the podium, her associates briefed journalists without attribution that Beinisch believes that the bills being debated are comparable to Nazi legislation barring Jews from the public square.
Since Beinisch's professional godfather, retired Supreme Court president Aharon Barak, enacted his "judicial revolution" in the 1990s, Israel's judicial system has been without parallel in the Western world. Under Israel's judicial selection system, judges effectively appoint themselves. And since Barak's presidency of the Supreme Court, justices have used this power to ensure ideological uniformity among their ranks. Jurists opposed to judicial activism have been largely blocked from serving on the High Court, as have jurists with non-leftist politics.
Not only do Israel's judges appoint themselves, they have empowered themselves to cancel laws of the Knesset.
Under Barak's dictatorial assertion that "everything is justiciable," the Court has given standing to parties that have no direct - and often no indirect - connections to the subjects of their petitions. In so doing, the Court has managed to place itself above the government and the Knesset.
In recent years, the Court has canceled duly legislated laws of the Knesset and lawful policies of the government and the IDF. Its decisions have involved everything from denying Jews the right to build Jewish communities on Jewish land, to requiring the state to compensate Palestinians for damages they incur while fighting Israel, to changing the route of the security barrier, to barring radio broadcasts by the right-wing Arutz Sheva station.
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.
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