devil_dude_2.jpgSome of you may have read my post, A Kiss begets a New Threat to Israeli Democracy and felt that it was premature. I’m sad to say that Justice Minister Daniel Friedman, who was appointed by Olmert to replace Haim Ramon (who has now been made vice-premier of Israel) after Ramon’s momentary lapse into a young female government employee’s mouth, is proving to be as bad for Israel as predicted.

On the one hand, Friedman is cutting deals with the ultra-Orthodox to strengthen their role and reach within Israel’s civil society. To this end, he appointed 12 out of 15 ultra-Orthodox rabbis to Israel’s rabbinical court (he was forced to cancel the appointments by Israel’s AG later), did not defend a son-of-Survivors attorney in his ministry who was permanently ejected from the Knesset for slapping an ultra-Orthodox politician who called him a Nazi, and is now flirting with allowing a “black list” database of non-marriageable Israeli citizens who don’t meet strict rabbinic criteria. It is hard to tell whether this is political pandering with the objective of ensuring harmony with Ultra-Orthodox political parties and continued support for Kadima within the government, or whether Friedman actually believes the Ultra-Orthodox deserve outsized power within Israeli society.

On the other hand, while attempting to strengthen the Ultra-Orthodox, Friedman is also attempting to weaken the judicial system, especially the Supreme Court, and to increase the powers of politicians over the justices. In order to do this, he has ordered the removal of judicial influence in the selection of judges, particularly senior judges, and increased political influence in these appointments. Curiously, in sending out the order for this historic change in the manner Israel’s judiciary operates, Friedman neglected to copy the letter to the members of the Supreme Court including its head, Dorit Beinisch.

Previously, Friedman sponsored and successfully passed a bill limiting the term of the Supreme Court presiding justice to 7 years. Historically, justices served until their 70th year when mandatory retirement takes effect.

A number of prominent jurists in Israel have attacked Friedman for his recent moves, including former Justice Minister Dan Meridor and former deputy Supreme Court President, Mishael Cheshin. Finally, Dorit Beinisch has also responded publicly in a letter. Here are excerpts.

“Your proposals are meant to substantially change the mechanism set down by law to elect the presidents, deputy presidents and the head of the Courts Administration. The legality of the proposed regulations is questionable since, on the face of it, they contradict the system of appointments according to law and violate the constitutional tradition according to which the judicial system has been operating for many years.”

“It is clear that these proposals are another link in the series of steps you have been taking that cause disagreements and arguments and are aimed at destroying the existing structure of the judicial system and the status of the office of president of the Supreme Court,” she added.

“Do you think that it is right that the presidents will be dependent on the minister only – in other words, the executive branch of government – so that the judicial system will not operate as an authority under the professional responsibility of the president of the Supreme Court? Is this what you call independent?”

“[You are] seeking to challenge the principle anchored in the provisions of the Courts Law regarding the power of appointment that gives expression to the joint responsibility of the minister and the president of the Supreme Court.”

“According to your proposal, the president of the Supreme Court will have no status regarding the appointment of the presidents and deputy presidents. On the other hand, a retired judge appointed by the minister of justice, who is a political figure, will have that status.”

“Your proposals show that you are not familiar with the judicial system and the responsibilities of the presidents and deputy presidents of the courts.”

She said she hoped Friedmann “has the strength to think things over and protect the judicial system rather than rush to damage the foundations that were laid at the beginning of statehood and nourished ever since to create a professional, autonomous and independent judicial system.”

Friedman responded by stating that Beinisch should not have made this debate public.

“Hey, you’re destroying the judiciary!”

“Ignore the Supreme Court President, she shouldn’t be writing public letters.”

Friedman feels that he can change Israel’s judicial system by sending out orders and without any public discussion or debate. He also believes that he can bypass the judges – even the most senior judges in Israel – in making his decisions about Israel’s judicial system. It is a stupendous feat of chutzpah and one that can only harm Israeli democracy by giving power to politicians over the justices.

If Israel’s politicians were angels, this would be understandable, but in a period where the PM, his former assistant, his former treasury minister, the former President, the current Deputy PM, and a number of Knesset members are all being investigated, charged or indicted on a variety of criminal matters, the one thing we know for certain is that Israeli politicians are not angels. Giving them control over judicial appointments would undermine the integrity of the judiciary and damage any possibility of objectivity and fairness within the legal system.

Friedman was appointed by Olmert, who knew that his new Justice Minister had a serious personal and philosophical animus toward the Supreme Court. Olmert appears to feel that weakening the justice system would benefit him and his party. It is obvious that Friedman would not be taking such an aggressive position if he didn’t have the confidence of full backing by his superior, the PM Olmert.

We can only hope they are stopped by the public and those politicians who can see reason. The difference between a strong, independent and fair judiciary which Israel has at the moment, and a weak, dependent and biased judiciary which is what Friedman’s proposals will create, is the difference between a vibrant democracy and a corrupt banana republic.

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themiddle

28 Comments

  • Oh Muddled One – even you have never gotten it so incredibly wrong before.

    Listen up, muddeleh:
    Israel has not Constitution, and its “democracy” lacks some basics:

    – no direct representation

    – no seperation of powers

    – no checks-n-balances between the branches of government

    Sure, Israelis vote – in that sense it’s a democracy. But it isn’t working – as even you may have discovered.

    The Supreme Court is an oligarchic mafia that selects its own members – exactly like the Catholic Church selects popes, but without the puff of white smoke.

    Beinish is one of them.
    She and Chief Justice Barak consistently exploited the disarray in the system to extend their powers way beyond those of any judiciary – or any non-elected offiicals – in a healthy democracy.

    All the while dressing up their oligarchy dictatorship in the fancy-pants language of “freedom” “rule of law” (hah!) and “progress” – which Western Jewish saps like you fall for time after time, especially where the Supreme’s meddling happens to jibe with your own “liberal” opinions.

    Spare me the self-righteous umbrage.
    Those of us living under this foul system get enough uffish lectures from these bogeys – we don’t need you pitching in your 2 cents.

    Part of the Supremes’ judicial activism involved undercutting and gutting the Rabbinical courts – which already existed by general public desire, and served a valid public purpose in the Jewish state.

    Friedman has been brought in to clean out this fetid stable. The people opposing him are all feeders at the troughs of overweening judicial activism and power.

    If his activities include re-establishing the uniform halachic standard that the majority of Israelis have always adhered to – that’s fine by most of us.

    Anything that sets limits on the judiciary’s reach is fine by me.

    As in previous posts, you may be purposely blindering yourself because you agree with the Supremes’ all-out attack on Jewish elements of Israeli culture – you’ve already demonstrated to us faithful readers your glee/mean streak when it comes to sticking it to the Orthos/haredim.

    In that case – as I’ve said before, The Rest of Us aren’t fools, and you’re better off just admitting your mean-spirited partisanship rather than trying to pass if off as something more high-minded.

    ANYone with any real knowledge of the system here, who is REALLY interested in fostering healthy, clean democracy in Israel – would be cheering on Friedman and what he’s trying to do.

  • Does the foregoing help to show why the ultra-Orthodox are opposed to a written constitution? Without one, the judiciary becomes just another forum for the sort of coalition-politics horsetrading that seems to characterize Israeli public life.

    It goes without saying that if Alberto Gonzales tried to limit the terms of John Paul Stevens, Ruth Ginsberg et al., it would get shot down as unconstitutional.

    Even in the US, constitutional constraints on political interference (lifetime tenure/fixed salaries) are sometimes tested, as in FDR’s effort to pack the Supreme Court. Here, Friedman is fully within his prerogatives. I wonder if there’s a constituency within Israel for a written (and yes, secular) constitution.

  • Just because Israel does not have a CODIFIED constitution, does not mean that rule of law does not exist. In lieu of a formal constitution legal precendence takes it’s place forming an UNCODIFIED consitution of court-tested laws and judgements. If someone is attempting to circumvent established laws and procedures, especially ones that serve to provide a check on the power of the government then yes, I would agree that they are reversing a developing democracy.

    As for halacha and politics – well, if you want a theocracy and a return of the Sanhedrin, supremacy of Israel’s Rabbis over those in other parts of the world (and many commenters here would appear to want that) then they should be tied. But if you want a democracy, a government answerable to the people, separation of powers and check and balances; then Israel is going to have to instill separation of synogogue and state.

  • Thanks Lisoosh, well written.

    I’ll add, Tom, that I don’t think many parties in Israel truly want a constitution right now because they each believe there is more to be gained by having a moving target – especially if it moves in their direction. The Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox are the same as the other groups on this issue.

    Ben David, I think you make my case for me. With no separation of powers, no direct representation and no checks and balances, you need an independent and strong judiciary. If the judiciary becomes subservient to the politicians, then you have a situation where the law and its interpretation lies in whoever carries the most leverage in the coalition at that time. In its current form, the government might be friendly to your wishes, but if tomorrow Labor and Meretz ascend in importance, you would complain that they should not be choosing the next batch of justices. As you know, Israel’s political system removes personal responsibility as a factor in how politicians operate since all that matters is how they rank in their party’s list.

    Judges need to be independent. They need to be and feel free to interpret the law without interference by people with a strong, short-term, self-interest. I happen to agree with rotating senior roles for judges and think that’s a weakness for us in the US where politicians can have an outsized influence on the nature of the courts and are able to shape them for decades in a way that may not represent the public’s views.

    On the other hand, lifetime appointments and separation of powers give those judges a lot of breathing room once they attain their positions. There are enough areas where politicians can influence the law, and this is even more true in Israel where the Basic Laws are not as locked in as a constitution, that giving them power to determine judges’ and lawyers’ career paths would be harmful to society.

    Friedman is a brilliant scholar of law from what I’ve read about him. However, he has a personal issue with Israel’s Supreme Court and all of this smells a little like personal revenge. Why else would he exclude Beinisch from a letter copied to all of the other senior judges when historically she, as the head of the Supreme Court, would decide together with the Justice Minister who the next appointees might be. Friedman is taking the extreme steps that he’s taking without consulting judges on any level, not just the Supreme Court judges. That isn’t serious. In fact, it’s a kind of legal putsch that undermines a few decades of Israeli legal history of which Israel can be very proud.

  • Good response, Middle. It isn’t about whose ox is being gored at the moment, but about institutional arrangements and procedural protections.

    To your comment in para. 3 re US judges: it’s very important to add that lifetime tenure etc. not only install judges for a long time– it makes it possible for them to shift their views without having to answer to the politicians who installed them. Think of the many prominent American judges who’ve evolved: Souter and Stevens in our own time, Earl Warren in days of yore…. Hugo Black once belonged to the KKK. And he became one of the most individual rights-vigilant justices we’ve had.

  • TM, you said:
    “I’ll add, Tom, that I don’t think many parties in Israel truly want a constitution right now because they each believe there is more to be gained by having a moving target – especially if it moves in their direction. The Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox are the same as the other groups on this issue.

    I’d agree, and in many ways that is what makes the debate even more necessary. I think it is being avoided because writing a formal constitution involves defining the State of Israel and everyone is afraid that they will lose.

  • I’ll second BenDavid.

    What kind of democarcy allows an ‘independant’ body to control it? And middle, what is wrong with ‘increasing the powers of politicians over the justices.”

    Middle, the most dangerous tool that the Israeli court system has adopted is the power to cancel laws. A majority of knesset members can pass a law, but someone can then take that law to court and get it cancelled. That is absurd and it nullifies the purpose of the knesset. It is even widely known that some ideas for laws are not even propsoed because they ‘won’t pass the higher court’!?

    The credibility of the court system is at an all time low. The court system itself blames that situation on everyone but itself. I don’t want to live in a democracy like that. I want this oligarchic court system cleaned out properly. Friedman is the ultimate minister that we dream of – professional and unpolitical.

    Middle, you should actually be proud that this is happening. Should judges choose their replacements or should third-party committes? Should Beinisch be a judge playing dirty politics through the Israeli tabloids?

    It’s time for a cleaning. Please research properly before the knee-jerk siding with one side.

    Shavuah tov!!!

  • Oh, as for the Israeli ‘constitution’. Well, on one hand, we don’t have one, on the other hand, we do, and it’s called the Torah.

    Besides that, the upper court regularly rules whether laws are ‘constitutional’ or not based on their interpretation of the unexisting Israeli constitution.

  • Leaving aside the question of reforming the bagatz, I don’t understand why you would call out Friedman for not defending the Justice ministry employee who slapped the Chareid MK. He got exactly what he deserved. Do you really think it is appropriate for civil servants to slap elected officials? Should Tommy Lapid or Shulamit Aloni have been slapped for their vicious anti-Orthodox statements?

    (also, keep in mind that the lawyer in question called the mk a beast before the nazi comment was made…)

  • That employee had been abused for years by Ultra-Orthodox members of the Knesset before this incident. It was not even a secret, it was out in the open. A son of survivors who had spent years working hard on behalf of the state, is abused for years by people who feel they’re not getting enough money from the state. Then, one day, after a particularly difficult session, he is also called a Nazi by one of them. A son of survivors who is Orthodox himself is called a Nazi in the Jewish state by a person whose entire lifestyle is possible because of that state and people like this son of survivors.

    The slap was inexcusable and deserved punishment, but a lifetime ban? And the people who brought it about walk away laughting about the victory? Where was the Minister after the slap to assess what had happened and make moves to protect his employee? Where was the Minister to ensure that future representatives from his Ministry will be treated differently? Where was the Minister to speak out in public view about the reprehensible behavior of the people who brought about this outcome? I’ll tell you where he was. In bed with them. He was negotiating a “blacklist” with Amar right after having appointed 12 out 15 Ultra-Orthodox to the Rabbinic court after 4 years of a stalemate.

  • middle,
    are you a hypocrite? Get over your lust against the Haredim and condemn something when it is wrong.

    There is a very friggin simple rule we go by in the 21st century western world and I’m sure you’ve heard about it: sticks and stones… but names…

    There is absolutely no excuse, and absolutely no context needed to explain why some assumed mature and respected civil servant can hit an elected member of knesset.

    There is no doubt that if the roles would be reversed, you’d be crying for the puncher to be sent to jail and key thrown away.

  • Yes Josh, I’m a hypocrite and this is lust against the Haredim. You read it perfectly. Congratulations. 🙄

    Dehartuch appeared on television Tuesday night and apologized for the “injury he caused to the dignity of MK Ya’acov Cohen and the dignity of the Knesset.” He also said that at his own request, he had asked the Justice Ministry for a leave of absence.

    Dehartuch said no public figure had the right to describe anyone, including a civil servant, as being “worse than the Germans.”

    “I try to do my work as well as I can, every day and all day,” he added, in response to the attacks against him. He specifically mentioned the haredi press and said it had vilified him for many years, calling him “an idiot, Haman and Antiochus.”

    Interviewed on Channel 10 Tuesday night, Dehartuch apologized for the slap. “I’m sorry I lost control,” he said.

    He said the comparison with Germans particularly angered him. “Comments like that must not be ignored,” he said. Dehartuch said the remark had been extremely insensitive.

    “My father, who died last year, hid from the Nazis in Holland and 20 members of his family were wiped out,” he said.

    While Knesset members were shocked to learn Dehartuch had physically assaulted an MK, many defended him as a hard working government official.

    “Dehartuch is a serious man, an honest and ideological man who is an example and a symbol of striving toward a government free of corruption,” MK Zvi Hendel (NU-NRP) said. “Not many could restrain themselves from slapping, if Amnon indeed chose to do so to MK Cohen. I suggest we all take a deep breath and refrain from speaking harshly of him.”

    Meretz chairman Yossi Beilin said haredi politicians had treated Dehartuch “in an unbearable manner” over the past few years. “Firing him would be a dream come true for the haredim,” he said.

  • That was the J Post.

    Here is Ha’aretz.

    For United Torah Judaism, the shock of the incident had a silver lining:- the removal from the Knesset of Hartog, who has long been tagged as the ultra-Orthodox’s Public Enemy No. 1.

    Yesterday’s incident was the climax of a long-running, overt conflict between them and the person responsible for approving the criteria for budget allocations. When Hartog raised his hand against Cohen, it left UTJ with the upper hand.

    “Hartog attempted to expel the Haredim from Israeli society as if we were Darfur refugees, to keep us from receiving the bare minimum. The slap demonstrates the hate he has accumulated, merely because we tell him to his face what we think about his tricky tactics,” MK Avraham Ravitz (UTJ) said.

    “The master doesn’t like it when the Jewboy tells him to his face what he thinks about him.”

  • We abandoned him

    By Shahar Ilan

    They don’t understand that barring entry to an honest man like Hartog is an insult to the Knesset, not to Hartog. Many of us are responsible for the fact that he broke down, and we will all pay the price for the slap on the face.

    No profound understanding of human nature is necessary to understand that the slap delivered by Amnon De Hartog – the Justice Ministry official who approves support for public institutions – to MK Yakov Cohen reflected serious distress. For 15 years Hartog has guarded the public coffers and has fought our battles. And when last year he endured an unremitting offensive led by MK Moshe Gafni of United Torah Judaism, he remained alone. Hartog is a very gentle man. When he slapped Cohen on the face he found an unacceptable – and for him very uncharacteristic – way of making clear that this nightmare cannot continue.

    The Knesset presidency barred Hartog from entering the building for the rest of his life. The truth is that had this punishment been imposed a day earlier, he would have considered it a prize. In recent months, his every visit to the Knesset could turn into a nightmare. Every time he appeared before a committee he could expect attacks by ultra-Orthodox MKs, and particularly Gafni. Gafni did not hesitate to insult him and accuse him of working for the benefit of national religious education, because his children study there.

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    Many people in the Knesset thought it was a scandal, but nobody did anything about it, especially not the heads of the committees that were supposed to restrain Gafni. Hartog’s big mistake was that he did not refuse to come to the Knesset. The Ethics Committee discussed the subject last Monday, and like a trade union that protects its members, it didn’t even reprimand Gafni. What they don’t understand in the Knesset is that barring entry to an honest man like Hartog is an insult to the Knesset, not to Hartog.

    The ultra-Orthodox press conducted a propaganda campaign against Hartog, and published pictures of him repeatedly. Hartog, a very religious man, lives in a mixed neighborhood with both Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox residents. There were synagogues in the neighborhood where they refused to pray with him. And let it be clear: When Hartog fought against ultra-Orthodox institutions, he did so from a halakhic standpoint, which found it incomprehensible that religious people could steal and receive money fraudulently.

    It is not unusual that the ultra- Orthodox use Holocaust-related terms when attacking someone they see as their enemy. For Hartog these attacks hit a sensitive nerve. His father, a Holocaust survivor, died a few months ago. He didn’t understand how one could say such things about someone whose parents survived the Holocaust. Every noble act by Hartog was interpreted negatively by the ultra-Orthodox. Two years ago he fought to have children in a Hadera ultra-Orthodox school removed from a building next to a high-tension wire. The ultra-Orthodox depicted this as a war against ultra- Orthodox education.

    There are people who can say they sounded a warning. Haaretz reporter Yuval Yoaz, for example, published an article about Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann, who abandoned Hartog. And an attorney, Rabbi Gilad Kariv, filed a complaint to the Ethics Committee against Gafni. But what about the approximately 100 MKs who are not ultra-Orthodox, many of whom witnessed the attack and remained silent? What about the attorney general’s staff, who did not understand that in the end Hartog would break down? What about the organizations fighting for good government, which did not come to his defense? What about the rest of the press, which did not fulfill its role in defending the man who safeguarded the money that belongs to all of us? What about me, who was the person most familiar with Hartog’s work, and still did not think to sound a warning?

    Many of us are responsible for the fact that Amnon De Hartog broke down, and we will all pay the price for the slap on the face; both with the money that will now flow without interference to non-government organizations that should not receive it, and with a marked increase in the level of corruption. Some people are irreplaceable. Hartog is one of them.

    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=881762&contrassID=2&subContrassID=4

  • The system is fine. Let the Jews who know the religious system the best – which is the Orthodox have the power there. Let the seculars control the stuff that doesnt affect religious issues.

    It is clear that if the Orthodox dont have control then the Reform and Conservative and other false religions trying to pawn themselves as Judaism will gain power and the nation will be a complete disastor. Keep the false forms out of Israel and keep in the US where it belongs.

  • middle,
    you are still trying to provide context and it is pathetic. And I don’t have to ‘read’ anything, I’ve been here about three years to know the context of your attitude.

    The man made a mistake, he apologized, let him disappear somewhere out of the public eye. I don’t care if the Haredi guy called him a Nazi, insulted his penis, or said something about his mother. It does not matter one bit. There is no excuse and what is more pathetic is the media trying to get the public to give some compassion points for the alleged pain and suffering that this guy went through instead of condemning violence.

    But we already know that the Israeli mass-media only cares about violence against ‘center-left’ Gush Dan people.

  • In other words, Josh, what you are saying is, “I have no real way to address your post or comments, Middle. Since I know that in the past you have been highly critical of the role of Ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israeli society, I will try to steer the discussion in that direction.”

    Do what you like. It doesn’t change the facts, Friedman’s unfortunate actions, the reality that he has conceded to the demands of the Ultra-Orthodox to the degree that even the Modern Orthodox are complaining, and that if the judiciary is weakened, you, as a citizen of that state will suffer.

    Enjoy.

  • It’s still funny to see how much of a muck American Jewry is running! Thank G-d the Reform and Conservative and other fringe movements trying to call themselves Jewish will never gain power in Israel. Baruch Hashem for that.

  • No, Muddle, what Josh is saying is: you are bringing up tangential “context” and waving a red flag to avoid answering our refutation/deconstruction of your post’s main point.

    The Beinishes and Baraks of Israel may be pushing opinions that you agree with – but they are doing so in a way that undermines the foundations of Israeli democracy.

    And this makes their – and your – self-righteous rhetoric about defending Israeli democracty against some imaginary Ortho-Taliban false.

    For those of us living with the fallout of the trashing of Israeli democracy – it is not just false, but unjust and evil.

  • The discussion about rule of law/an Israeli constitution is especially timely in light of the controversy over the Knesset vote empowering the Jewish Nat’l. Fund to refuse leasing land to Israeli Arabs.

  • Middle, the most dangerous tool that the Israeli court system has adopted is the power to cancel laws. A majority of knesset members can pass a law, but someone can then take that law to court and get it cancelled. That is absurd and it nullifies the purpose of the knesset. It is even widely known that some ideas for laws are not even propsoed because they ‘won’t pass the higher court’!?

    If the Knesset genuinely believed that Barak’s constitutional revolution was invalid, it would pass the laws and force the court to strike them down. The fact that it doesn’t seems to indicate a preference for shirking difficult choices regarding the competing claims of the majority preferences and individual rights present in every liberal democracy.

  • mhp is right. Another issue is the coalition nature of the government which means that many groups must be appeased or that groups in future coalitions must be appeased.

    Ben David, your address of my comments was actually in favor of what I wrote. I ask you to reread comment #4.

    Also, read Josh’s comments and see that he is trying to bring in elements of a theocracy into the way Israel is run: “Oh, as for the Israeli ‘constitution’. Well, on one hand, we don’t have one, on the other hand, we do, and it’s called the Torah.”

    Should I be worried about an “Ortho-Taliban?” Not exactly, because extremist Jews are very different than extremist Muslims, but should I be worried about theocratic ambitions in Israel? Yes. Josh extinguishes your point because Josh is a reasonable guy from the religious Right.

    If Friedman would have had the decency to seek out these serious and extreme changes to Israel’s judiciary after running some discussion panels, asking for public and political input, speaking to justices in formal settings, including justices in the decision-making process and treating the Supreme Court with respect, then we would have a transparent process here. Then, we would all know what he’s up to and why. Then, Israelis would have influence on their own future and knowledgeable people such as Israel’s judges would have had a say in these wholesale changes. We would then enjoy the fruits of watching how a country and its institutions can contribute to critical changes in the manner in which the rights of its citizens are changed.

    Finally, by giving the Ultra-Orthodox two situations where they received the upper hand, without showing the same respect to other groups, Friedman showed everybody one of two things. Either he is naive about the importance of his actions, or he is willfully absent of consideration for the civil rights of the majority of Israelis who don’t wish to live under ultra-Orthodox chumra. Whether it is the former or the latter, it is clear that he isn’t qualified to be making solo decisions about the fate of Israel’s judiciary.

  • The Muddled One:
    Ben David, I think you make my case for me. With no separation of powers, no direct representation and no checks and balances, you need an independent and strong judiciary. If the judiciary becomes subservient to the politicians, then you have a situation where the law and its interpretation lies in whoever carries the most leverage in the coalition at that time.
    – – – – – – – – – – – –
    … so democracy is really about unelected judges conducting an oligarchy – to protect the populus from their elected representatives, who may actually be – shudder! – beholden to voter opinion?

    Gee – thanks for clearing that up, Muddle!

    And to think that all these years I thought that the link between representation and legislation was central to democracy – and that powers of unelected folks was supposed to be limited precisely because they don’t draw their authority from the people.

    But if you call them “judges” and roll your eyes self-righteously and ignore 60 years of one-sided judicial acitivism and wrap yourself in a distracting Holocaust-survivor flag and blather about the Ortho-Taliban…. well, then it’s all right….

    after all, Muddle says so.

    Do you even read this garbage after you’ve typed it?

    We need a “strong judiciary” to…. protect us from…. our elected representatives?

    And a constitution would…. get in the way of…. this glorious oligarchy?

    Hello?

  • I think you’re all misunderstood. In Israel the reform and conservative and other new age religions have no power here. The system is fine. If millions of reform and conservative Jews made Aliyah they’d have a say. However, most Reform Jews probably by now arent Halachically Jewish meaning they arent really Jews. And Conservative Jewry is dying pretty fast. All that’s gonna be left soon is Frum and secular Jews in Israel (that are actually Jewish) and in the US, Frum Jews and people that no one knows if they’re actually Jewish or not.

    I think you really have to be living in Israel to understand this.

  • Meir – I think you are being gratuitously insulting, and missing the point.

    There are plenty of non-Orthodox Israelis who are very devoted to the Jewish people – to the point of laying down their lives in our defence.

    The point is how we are going to govern ourselves – how we are going to bridge the gaps between us, reach consensus, and insure a fair, equable, level playing ground in the public sphere.

    The current system does not do this. The Supremes are part of the problem. And liberal-minded folks who support the Supremes must know at some level that they are compromising fundamentals of stable, equable democracy – largely, I think, because they sense that they can only get their way by fiat.

    This is happening elsewhere in the world, too – having lost widespread support, lefties are barricading themselves into power bases that are resistant to public opinion such as the media, the courts, and academia.

    Such people should not deliver righteous lectures about how they’re protecting democracy.

  • Politics and halakha are not necessarily the only forces at work. I suspect that the Sanhedrin is under the control of a Christian underground. Their web pages look suspiciously like Christian rants. Their push for an enlarged Israel is the same thing the Neo-Charismatic Christians prophesize as a place to herd all the world’s Jews for another holocaust.

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