Levin claims top court pursues ‘post-Zionist agendas’; is told to ‘get hospitalized’

T. Belman. There are two paths to judicial reform. Either change the judges or change the law. The latter restricts the wiggle room of the judges from supporting a non-Zionist agenda. Or do both. But no matter what the law is, liberal judges, like in the US, still find a way to circumvent it.

The equality issue is central to the debate. The right want laws that favour Jews and Zionism and the left want laws that favour equality between Jews and Muslims. That’s the difference between a state of the Jews and a state of all its citizens.

Why is it that the US and the EU can fully accept all Muslim states but not a Jewish state. They demand that Israel be a liberal democracy but make no such demands on the Arab states.

In bitter Knesset debate, justice minister foils opposition bid to enshrine equality into Basic Law, calling it ‘hypocrisy’ amid ongoing talks on judicial compromise

By CARRIE KELLER-LYNN, TOI       31 May 2023, 4:53 pm  

Justice Minister Yariv Levin speaks in the Knesset on May 31, 2023. (Screenshot: Twitter; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

In a bitter and fiery Knesset speech, Justice Minister Yariv Levin on Wednesday complained that Israel’s top court was skewed by “post-Zionist agendas,” accused the opposition of pursuing subversive policies, and savaged his political opponents for an impasse in negotiations on judicial reform. His predecessor, the National Unity party’s Gideon Sa’ar, said in response that Levin should “get hospitalized.”

Levin, who has spearheaded the coalition’s temporarily suspended bid to radically constrain the judiciary, was speaking on behalf of the government as it defeated an opposition proposal to formally insert the principle of equality into Israel’s quasi-constitutional Basic Laws.

“We all have a problem that post-Zionist agendas have entered the judicial system and the Supreme Court in particular, which are used for completely different things — to erase Zionism,” the justice minister claimed.

He attacked the opposition as “hypocritical” for trying to introduce changes to the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty while constitutional changes are at the fore of national debate.

“We are not allowed to do anything, but you are allowed to promote a Basic Law that is at the core of the issues in dispute and at the core of what is being discussed at the President’s Residence” where negotiations are taking place between the coalition and the opposition, Levin charged from the Knesset rostrum while insisting the coalition doesn’t oppose the Basic Law.

Levin also implied that only the coalition was engaging in the ongoing compromise talks with good faith.

In response, Sa’ar said from his Knesset seat that Levin should “get hospitalized.”

The equality proposal, put forward by Labor MK Gilad Kariv, was seen as largely symbolic and was expected to be defeated, but it highlights a broader political debate about the intersection of judicial activism and civil rights.

Equality is not guaranteed by statute in Israel, but rather was read into Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty by the Supreme Court. Lauded by civil rights groups, the longstanding decision has also been excoriated by far-right and religious members of the coalition who slam the court for using equality as a basis for invalidating pieces of legislation.

Levin told the opposition that it should “be embarrassed” for trying to advance the legislation amid the tense, ongoing judicial debate, and said that it was an example of the opposition acting as if “you are the landlords here, as if you won [the elections].”

The justice minister also implied that the coalition came to talks at the President’s Residence “with good intentions,” after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu froze the progress of the legislation two months ago — over Levin’s own objections.

Levin in recent days has reportedly lobbied ministers to resume his ambitious judicial program, saying that it is a unique opportunity to redraw the balance of powers.

His comments come just hours after President Isaac Herzog briefed reporters on the ongoing judicial reform talks while finishing up a state visit to Azerbaijan.

Acknowledging the yawning gap between the sides, while stressing he believes a deal is possible, Herzog said, “This is a long process and I don’t have a deadline.”

The president added that he’s “not naive” regarding the fact that the negotiations have yet to yield any breakthroughs, but said that the talks are currently focused on forging agreement on “essential principles” before getting into the nitty-gritty.

“I know what I am doing is the best for the State of Israel — to reach broad consensus and get out of this difficult strait that threatens to crumble us from within,” he said.

Following a slew of reports on progress toward the first negotiated breakthrough in two months of talks, Likud delegation member MK Keti Shitrit told Army Radio on Wednesday morning that a memorandum of understanding between the parties could be expected in the coming days.

Opposition parties have been adamant that they would not agree to a partial deal, and said shelving the remainder of the shakeup legislation was a precondition to any agreement.

National Unity party negotiating team member MK Chili Tropper confirmed this later to Army Radio, cautioning against expecting an interim agreement while the broader legislative package is still in play.

T. Belman. Wikipedia says this about the Balfour Declaration of 1917:

The opening words of the declaration represented the first public expression of support for Zionism by a major political power. The term “national home” had no precedent in international law, and was intentionally vague as to whether a Jewish state was contemplated. The intended boundaries of Palestine were not specified, and the British government later confirmed that the words “in Palestine” meant that the Jewish national home was not intended to cover all of Palestine.

The second half of the declaration was added to satisfy opponents of the policy, who had claimed that it would otherwise prejudice the position of the local population of Palestine and encourage antisemitism worldwide by “stamping the Jews as strangers in their native lands”. The declaration called for safeguarding the civil and religious rights for the Palestinian Arabs, who composed the vast majority of the local population, and also the rights and political status of the Jewish communities in other countries outside of Palestine.

The Mandate when signed in 1922 included these recitals:

Whereas the Principal Allied Powers have also agreed that the Mandatory should be responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on November 2nd, 1917, by the Government of His Britannic Majesty, and adopted by the said Powers, in favor of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, it being clearly understood that nothing should be done which might prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non­ Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country; and

Whereas recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country;

It clearly did not grant the Arabs political rights. Wikipedia explains the difference.

Civil rights exist to protect individuals from actions by the government, organizations, or other persons. Political rights allow individuals to participate freely in the political system. This includes voting and holding public office.

The issue at hand is whether making Israel a Zionist state discriminates against the Arabs.

One more thing. Since the Jews in Palestine in 1917 consisted of 10% of the population, was it undemocratic to give them a national home in all of Palestine?  To avoid that criticism, the Balfour Declaration called for the  “establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people,” (i.e., not for just the local Jews). The Jewish people at the time numbered about 18 million which far exceeded the local Arab population. Thus it was reasoned that when the Jews finally declare a state, they will be in the majority.


June 1, 2023 | Comments »

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