Regev Responds

What did the Justice omit?

Justice Silberman Abella speaks out against delegitimizing Israel's Court

Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella, the senior judge on the Supreme Court of Canada, delivered a lecture at a symposium with Justice Aharon Barak (former president of the Supreme Court of Israel) regarding the ongoing attempt among members of Israel's Coalition Government to delegitimize the reputation of the judiciary.

Canadian Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella, source: WikipediaCanadian Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella, source: Wikipedia

Her lecture is of profound interest and worth reading, not only for what Justice Abella said, but also - for what she did not say.

This great justice, who is so close to Israel, put her emphasis on the "patriotic" claims against Israel's Supreme Court and the legal rulings that are not in line with "public opinion." However, it would seem that she is unaware or underestimates the threat of another source of perpetual assault on Israel's independent judiciary: the powerful ultra-Orthodox political establishment.

The ultra-Orthodox political parties are also major partners in and instigators of undermining the independent judiciary, and they are neither "patriots," nor do they care about public opinion. Not only are they not making "patriotic" arguments against the Court, but they actually reject the legitimacy of democracy, civil law, and civil judiciary altogether. Examples abound. Just last year, ultra-Orthodox politicians decried the Supreme Court's ruling permitting in favor of Tel Aviv’s battle to expand facilities open to the secular public on Shabbat.

    Minister of Health Rabbi Yaakov Litzman pronounced: "The High Court's decision is a severe blow to the Jewish Shabbat and the Jewish character of the State of Israel. This is a continuation of the courts' gross intervention into the values of religion and Jewish law, which has no obvious solution other than the advancement of a law [through the Knesset] to prevent further erosion of Israel's tradition and religion."
    Knesset Finance Committee Chairman MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni responded: "This is a miserable decision, and the Supreme Court Justices are unaware of Shabbat's value... they will [learn] respect and sit in their place. This is a breach of the status quo; we will not permit this; we will not remain silent. We will turn to the Prime Minister to urgently convene the Coalition leaders to solve the problem created by the High Court Justices."
    Knesset Ombudsman's Committee Chairman MK Yisrael Eichler said: "This is like the Kremlin's rule, and it is a shame that the shaky, cowardly Knesset does not enact a law to invalidate [such] a ruling, which negates the legislature's intent, as per the Justices' personal agenda. A Jewish state must respect Shabbat, and a democratic state must respect the law. The High Court of Justices does not respect Shabbat, nor the law."
    In stressing the religious political parties' ultimatum to pass a law that would overturn the Supreme Court ruling, a senior leader of UTJ that preferred to remain anonymous said, "We’ll go to the very end over this law. If the government puts obstacles in the way, we'll bring it down."
These same ultra-Orthodox political leaders also disregard public opinion, which the Court accurately and justly upholds

These same ultra-Orthodox political leaders also disregard public opinion, which the Court accurately and justly upholds. Hiddush polling clearly shows that the public's level of trust in the Supreme Court (59%) is more than four times greater than the public's level of trust in the Knesset (13%) and its trust in the government (12%)!

In short, the Supreme Court is the only branch of government that stands in the ultra-Orthodox political parties' way (having subjugated the Knesset and the Government), and that is why (as we can see in Gafni's, Litzman's, and Eichler's venom) they are out to castrate the Supreme Court and do away with its independence and its judicial review powers.

Justice Silberman Abella is either unaware of this, as many in North America have limited knowledge of this threatening aspect of the challenges of Israel's clash between religion and state, or else she is simply unaware of its serious nature.

Take Action!