Chief Justice denies High Court is politicized

Miriam Naor, frequent target of right-wing flak, warns new judges to be skeptical of criticism over their judicial activism.

Shlomo Piotrokovsky ,

Supreme Court headed by Miriam Naor
Supreme Court headed by Miriam Naor
Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

High Court Chief Justice Miriam Naor took part in a swearing-in ceremony for new judges at the President's residence in Jerusalem today (Thursday).

During her speech, Naor addressed criticism by many on the Right that the courts - and in particular the High Court - is far too active, and highly politicized in favor of the Left. Naor dismissed such criticism as not "reasonable (or) professional. Criticism must be done according to the norms of democratic discourse, both in its style and in its content."

She further claimed that "Reasonable criticism must be based on factual data and on familiarity with legal rulings relevant to the target of criticism. It must take all relevant social values into consideration.

"We must differentiate between professional and reasonable criticism, and incitement and threats disguised as criticism - that we must not accept. Baseless criticism, which is done with disparaging and unrestrained language, is not reasonable criticism."

Finally, Naor said, "We are witnessing today, sadly, a phenomenon of personal slander, 'shaming,' against judges. It does not come from a disagreement with the reasoning behind rulings - and it is not even backed up with facts - but rather is based on taking items out of context. Sometimes the criticism is not based on what was said in a ruling itself but rather on what was written about what was supposedly said in the ruling, even if it does not reflect what was actually said."

Israel's court system has come under fire recently by politicians and lay people who believe that the judges' ideologies are too far to the left. Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) has promised to rein in the judiciary's power and set up a task force to stop the Supreme Court from ordering Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria destroyed.

Other MKs have accused the Court of overstepping its bounds.

In return, Chief Justice Naor has previously accused Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) of 'intimidating' judges by threatening to stop promotions for those he feels are too lenient towards Arab rock throwers.