Israel's Justices Hired 68 Law Clerks in Three Years. None Were Arab

Figures show gender balance among law clerks hired by Israel's top court, but lack of diversity in other regards

Chen Maanit
Chen Maanit
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Israel's Supreme Court.
Israel's Supreme Court.Credit: Emil Salman
Chen Maanit
Chen Maanit

None of the 68 law clerks employed over the past three years at the Supreme Court has been an Arab, and only two are ultra-Orthodox. Data supplied by the Judicial Authority at Haaretz’s request shows that while the composition of clerks chosen by the justices is gender-balanced – 36 women to 32 men – in other regards, it is clearly homogenous.

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Apart from the two ultra-Orthodox clerks who obtained their law degree at the ultra-Orthodox campus of the private Ono Academic College, all the others graduated from universities – including Reichmann University, which until last year was classified as a college. Of the 68 law clerks, 34 went to Hebrew University, 20 to Tel Aviv University, six to Bar-Ilan and four to Reichmann and while 31 of them hold master’s degrees, another five have Ph.D. degrees.

Appointment as a Supreme Court law clerk is considered to be one of the most challenging and prestigious positions for a lawyer in Israel. The clerks assist the judges through far-ranging legal research, writing legal opinions, writing drafts for the judges’ rulings and verdicts, and assisting in the professional guidance of Supreme Court interns. The position is considered a launching pad for judgeship and other senior positions in both the public and private sectors.

“The work of the law clerk is unique in the legal landscape,” the Judicial Authority’s website reads, “due to the complexity of the legal issues that come before the Supreme Court. The role is based on a close relationship of trust between the law clerk and judge and requires the maintenance of particularly strict standards. The law clerk at the Supreme Court is expected to embody a high degree of legal and personal excellence.”

In May, Haaretz reported that of 74 candidates accepted for internship at the Supreme Court over the past two years, only one is a Muslim Arab, while the others are Jews. Combining the two data sets, only one out of 142 law clerks and interns employed at the Supreme Court since 2019 is an Arab.

The Judicial Authority said in response that it “accords great importance to the diversity of all the system’s employees, including judges, law clerks, and interns at the various courts. This issue is on the system’s agenda, and actions are taken to promote it constantly. In the past year, the Judicial Authority increased its score on the public service commission’s diversity index by 18.6 points.”

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