Justice Minister Shaked: Israeli Legal System Should Be More Jewish

The Jewish identity and democratic identity of Israel do not contradict each other, but in fact strengthen one another, Ayelet Shaked writes in a new magazine.

Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked delivers a speech during a conference in Budapest, Hungary, Monday, June 6, 2016.
Tamas Kovacs, MTI via AP

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked has called to promote legislation that will give expression to the Jewish character of Israel.

In an article published in the first edition of a new magazine, Hashiloach, this week (in Hebrew), Shaked laid out her views concerning her role as justice minister and governability, writing: “The route of the train of Israeli justice must take into account the Jewishness of the state.”

The legal system must take this Jewishness into account in a real manner: Not just as a symbol, but as a matter that has concrete implications, she wrote. The Jewish identity and democratic identity of Israel do not contradict each other, but in fact strengthen one another, according to Shaked.

“I am a great believer in the tradition, customs and culture that developed here in recent decades – that is the fruit of the unique integration between Jewish tradition, democratic ideas and the modern world,” writes Shaked in the article, titled “The tracks to governability (Hamesilot el hameshilut).”

“For this reason, I believe we must shape the governmental system in such a way that it can provide a proper expression for all these.”

“I believe we will be a more democratic nation the more Jewish a nation we will be, and we will be a more Jewish nation the more democratic a nation we will be,” writes Shaked. “I am unwilling to accept the view that these are such different traditions.”

Shaked called to strengthen the legislative branch, in comparison to the judicial branch, saying: “The classic role of the court is to protect those who are harmed directly by the authorities, and not to decide in general public issues.”

Legislation in Israel has “reached a dangerous level,” she writes. “The freedom of a citizen in Israel is deeply harmed by this competition between Knesset members, from this excessive intervention in their lives.”

Former Justice Minister Tzipi Livni sharply criticized Shaked's article.

"A Jewish and democratic state is a Jewish nation state in which all its citizens have equal rights. The Likud, [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu and a part of Habayit Hayehudi have refused to add the word 'equality' to the nation-state legislation."

Shaked has expressed similar ideas in the past, including in a speech at Bar-Ilan University a year ago.

The brand-new publication, Hashiloach: The Israeli Magazine of Ideas and Policy, is sponsored by the conservative Tikvah Fund. Shaked’s article appears in the first issue of the magazine, which takes its name from the famous Hebrew journal founded in 1896 by Asher Ginsberg (Ahad Ha’am).