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Israel's Supreme Court Belongs to the Liberals

Rogel Alpher
Rogel Alpher
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The Supreme Court of Israel.
The Supreme Court of Israel.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Rogel Alpher
Rogel Alpher

Israeli liberals are infuriated by the aggressive and threatening declarations aimed at the Supreme Court and the High Court of Justice by politicians who represent the ultra-Orthodox, religious Zionism and the Bibi-ist right. These pronouncements are considered – and rightfully so – to be antidemocratic and a declaration of war against the rule of law.

The revolution in how judges are chosen in this country – which began with former Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked’s pledge to guarantee the appointment of right-wing nationalist judges without a commitment to human rights – is illegitimate in the eyes of the liberal minority. But that is not just because such a move would subordinate the legal system to the government, but because a Supreme Court that rises up against democracy with a D9 bulldozer – as the Supreme Court has done in recent days in the United States – does not deserve its status. According to the liberal axiom, “judges have a commitment to human rights,” as noted in a Haaretz editorial, “They are essential to genuine democracy, which goes beyond mere majority rule.”

President Isaac Herzog, Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar and the Justices of the Supreme Court, in June.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

In other words, judges on the High Court of Justice who are not committed to human rights are not needed in a democracy. Moreover, they taint it, and with a serious defect. Which is why the Supreme Court, according to the definition, must be liberal and democratic. A Supreme Court that is not committed to liberal values is abusing its role – and that role is precisely to preserve those values. Yes, the Supreme Court belongs to the liberals.

As proof, liberals in the United States are now busy crushing their Supreme Court with a D9. Celebrities on social media are mocking the court, saying it can go “f--k itself,” challenging its sacred status. Civil society groups are preparing to help poor women from Republican states to bypass the abrogation of their rights over their own bodies. The ruling that revoked Roe vs. Wade is inherently immoral, and a black flag flies over it. The ban on abortion is antidemocratic, even when the Supreme Court issues it.

In a democracy, the commitment to civil rights is above the law and above the Supreme Court. Any authority that opposes this commitment and violates it, even the Supreme Court, is the enemy of democracy. Moreover, this would mean that the Supreme Court is not automatically the defender of democracy and individual rights, and does not automatically have the right to be defended by democratic and liberal forces. This right to defense is not unconditional; it depends on whether the court is functioning as the bulwark of civil rights. On this issue, liberals are indeed discriminating against their antidemocratic, nationalist, racist and religious opponents.

The fury aimed at this dark decision by the U.S. Supreme Court is justified. In comparison, the rage of Israelis who despise democracy that is aimed at the High Court of Justice is unjustified: While the Bibi-ists’ threat to eliminate the Supreme Court is a direct continuation of their antidemocratic behavior – the liberal uprising in the United States is an act in defense of democracy. There are different types of D9s. There are necessary (liberal) D9s, and there are illegitimate (antidemocratic, nationalist, religious) D9s. Nationalists such as Shaked are correct in their assessment that the Supreme Court is supposed to protect a worldview committed to human rights. There’s no point hiding this fact. All the Bibi-ist, Haredi and nationalist politicians are right in their diagnosis that the Supreme Court discriminates against their worldview. There’s no point in arguing otherwise.

The Supreme Court is intended first and foremost to protect human rights, which is why liberals in this country are allowed to attack it when it discriminates against Palestinians in favor of settlers. This is also why the Bibi-ists are forbidden to threaten it when the court protects human rights. The Supreme Court belongs to us, the left – and when it stops being like that, it will stop being supreme – and will become the lowest.

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