The Right has to understand what Leftist attorneys realized long ago

The left runs seminars, conferences and admits that it sees the High Court of Justice Department and other government ministries as the site of legal education for attorneys working there.

Adv. Yotam Eyal, | updated: 16:14

OpEds Night over Supreme Court
Night over Supreme Court

The Deputy Attorney General organized a conference to which representatives from the extreme left were invited to speak to lawyers and legal advisers. When will the government internalize that it all begins with education?

A few months ago, Deputy Attorney General Dina Zilber published an article in legal journal Ma'asei Mishpat titled "My eyes saw many beautiful things: the High Court of Justice Department as a site of legal education" in which she expounded her position on the role of the public jurist.

Is a government attorney's role to represent the client's opinion (the state) or is his role to represent other interests of his own choosing, and even act against the government?
According to Zilber, who served as an attorney in the High Court of Justice for sixteen years, the lawyer's role in the department is twofold. On one hand, his role is to help implement government policy, and on the other hand, to be a gatekeeper and to ensure that the state does not act illegally by presenting his opinion on the matter at hand in the High Court of Justice.

And who determines what is legal and what is not? The lawyer, of course.

Beyond the basic disagreement over the role of the attorney, is the attorney's role to represent the client's opinion (the state) or is his role to represent other interests of his own choosing, and is he even allowed to act against the government?

Zilber provides us with an interesting picture of the mindset that exists in the High Court of Justice Prosecutor's Office.

The mindset that a single attorney has the power to determine what the state’s response in court on significant political matters will be, even against the opinion of elected officials, directly reflects upon the importance of the political views and perceptions of the attorney.

Unlike elected officials, the public does not have the ability to know the political views of the various attorneys. And then we are finally exposed to them, after years of their implementing their agendas in the courts, as in the case of Talia Sasson's Outpost Report. At the time, she was head of the Special Tasks Department of the State Attorney's Office. Today she heads the New Israel Fund.

This reality demonstrates the importance of the content of the training that lawyers receive. There is a body in the Justice Department called “The Institute for the Professional Development of Lawyers and Legal Advisors”, and this authority is responsible for the training that all the lawyers and legal advisors undergo; training that directly affects their views on various issues.

Two months ago, a seminar, organized by Zilber, was held on the topic of public jurisprudence. The content of the seminar revolved around the various roles of state attorneys, and senior lawyers in the civil service, including the Attorney General, the Military Advocate General, Supreme Court Justice Menachem Mazuz, and others, were invited to lecture. In addition, three external lecturers were invited to speak: two female professors who spoke about human rights issues - one a member of the directorate of B'Tselem, the other a former vice-president of the New Israel Fund and the legal adviser of Yesh Din.

There is no dispute that there are different opinions regarding the role of the state attorneys, but on such an important and controversial subject, the institute chose to present a one-sided picture that comes from radical left-wing organizations. Who knows how many such incidents occurred in the past? It’s not incidental that Dina Zilber called her article "the High Court of Justice Department as a site of legal education." She realizes that it all begins with education. In order to really influence people's opinions, one has to educate slowly and consistently, exposing them repeatedly to opinions, slowly influencing, permeating, and eventually finding a home in the minds of the listeners.

Complaints from the right have been raised, not just once, on the conduct of state prosecutors in the Supreme Court for not properly representing the government’s position. Just recently, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked was forced to appoint external legal representation to defend the Regulation Law.

The right needs to understand what Dina Silber understood long ago: it all begins with education. In order to make a real change, the first thing is to make sure that the opinions that the lawyers are exposed to in the state-sponsored professional development courses will not be extreme one-sided views, but rather a range of opinions as is appropriate in a democratic country.

The Legal Forum for a Democratic, Zionist Israel, founded by Nachi Eyal, is a nonprofit organization that aims to defend civil rights in Israel, ensure sound governance, protect the country’s and the Jewish people’s national interests, promote Zionist values in Israeli society and lead reforms in the judicial system. The Legal Forum’s members include over 370 lawyers, economists and professionals in various fields, working together voluntarily with a shared sense of common mission. Attorney Yotam Eyal represents the organization.