April 23, 2024
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Why There Is Such an Outcry About the Israeli Supreme Court

The past two issues of the Link have had articles that dealt with the proposed reforms to how the Israeli Supreme Court operates (“Dispute With Israel’s Supreme Court” by Nathan Lewin/JNS.org, January 26, 2023 and “Israel’s Debate Over the Separation of Powers” by Cliff Rieders/JNS.org, February 2, 2023). Each causally glossed over the crux of why there has been such a negative reaction to the reforms.

One can reasonably argue that the Supreme Court currently has too much power in its ability to override Knesset decisions and that some degree of reform is warranted. However, the reforms being put forth include a simple majority of the Knesset sufficing to reject the Supreme Court throwing out a Knesset ruling. This would completely eliminate any form of counterweight to the Knesset.

As Americans we should all appreciate the importance of there being a system of checks and balances in the government. Lewin said the number needed would be debated and decided, and Rieders just assumed that a compromise will ultimately be agreed upon. There is no indication that the current proposal is open to any sort of compromise or adjusting of the numbers needed to override. (And since the current government only enjoys a majority of one seat, it is hard to imagine that they would abrogate their power in that way). As Professor Alan Dershowitz has so poignantly argued, in its current form, the proposed reform would undermine Israel’s standing as a model of democracy that protects a minority’s rights.

Rabbi Yaakov Blau
Bergenfield
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