Pursuing justice in the State of Israel

Celebrating fifteen years since the founding of the Legal Forum for Israel.

Nachi Eyal, Legal Forum, | updated: 23:47

OpEds Israel's Supreme Court
Israel's Supreme Court
חזקי עזרא

Today, after a game-changing term of office by former Justice Minister Shaked, it is hard to imagine that not long ago the justice system was completely estranged from the public and characterized by obvious one-sidedness regarding the right-wing worldview.

It is enough to recall the refusal in 2005 of the Supreme Judges to visit Gush Katif, and to at least prevent the government from expelling its residents before finding a reasonable solution for housing and employment for them.

What intensified the absurdity was the issue of relocating fish cages from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean. In fact, the court held many meetings and authorized postponements until it became convinced that the fish would not be harmed.

In contrast, when the Legal Forum petitioned the courts against the expulsion of Gush Katif and northern Samaria settlers, warning that there were no solutions for the residents who would be grieviously harmed - the court spent only half an hour on the issue. Unbelievably, the court needed only thirty minutes to reject the claims filed by attorney Yitzhak Miron over hundreds of pages, reviewing precedents and legal and moral arguments.

Wholesale detention of juveniles and their clearly illegal arrests by Judge Sefi Elon were backed up by the Supreme Court and the Prosecutor's Office, and many other examples of abuse and disrespect for the law in order to carry out the expulsion reinforced the clear recognition that our justice system needed a thorough shake-up.

During this time, I recognized that the justice system is a left-wing nature reserve that the Right ignores allowing it to condone abuse and wreak damage without acting to change the situation. What helped me understand the issue was the Legal Forum's exposure of the "The New Israel Fund Jurists Program", where lawyers from the State Attorney's Office are sent to study abroad by the Fund in exchange for volunteering at one of the New Israel Fund's organizations for a year.

Later many of these attorneys are appointed judges. Thus, it turns out that the New Israel Fund organization's petitions to the High Court against the Right and the lawyer who is supposed to represent the state in response is often a lawyer sent by them or a similar organization abroad who even volunteered for it. The petition is often heard before a judge who went through the same process, so that the outcome is predetermined, closing a circle.

It most definitely does not say in the Bible that the court must be peopled by extreme leftists, so I decided that this unfortunate reality can and should be changed.

Since the establishment of the Legal Forum, which was the first to enter the arena to change the situation, awareness of this reality has grown and brought about the formation of other organizations that deal with the issue

The Forum encouraged lawyers and jurists to apply for judicial posts. It acted to increase the transparency of the judicial system, such as by compelling the Committee for Appointing Judges to register protocols. The Forum initiated the establishment of the Audit Commission on State Representatives in the Courts as well as initiating discussions in Knesset committees and filing many petitions to deal with this untenable reality.

When in the last Knesset, Religious Zionist MKs demanded they be given the Justice Ministry for the first time, we in the Forum felt that we had achieved the goal to increase awareness of the crucial importance of the justice system.

Establishing the Commission of State Auditors and its enshrining in the law was another memorable moment in the success of the Forum's endeavors. Conservative Judge Stein's appointment in a brilliant move by Minister Shaked, too, reflected the change that the judiciary is undergoing.

Not for nothing, the leftist organizations and former supremacists are alarmed at the upheaval that is taking place before their very eyes. Someone decided to "move their cheese" and blessedly, the move is bearing fruit. 

What I did find in the Bible is the commandment in this week's Torah reading: "Judges and policemen must you appoint at all your gates ... and they shall judge the people justly... Pursue justice and justice alone, so that you may live and possess the land the Lord your God is giving you." (In ancient times, judges sat the gates of the city, ed.)

If we wish a long and healthy life for the Jewish State, we must create a fair, honest and just legal system. In the Legal Forum. we plan our activities with that in mind. The nature of these endeavors is that they take a long time to achieve the required changes, calling for patience and above all, perseverance, and of course, for the public's participation in direct or indirect support as this takes place.




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