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

The "Cosmopolitan" Judaism of the Supreme Court

Everyone uses the slogan “Jewish and democratic,” but in effect, the “democratic” side in Israel has increasingly prevailed in recent years, while the “Jewish” side has weakened to point of insignificance. The great bastion of official “democracy” is the judiciary system.

The champion of this arrangement was the former President of the Supreme Court – Aharon Barak – who effectively eliminated the “Jewish” side of the equation. He did so by detaching it from Halacha and from tradition and turning the word “Jewish” into another expression of “democratic.” His interpretation of "Jewish" relied exclusively on the prophetic moral injunctions against, for example, oppression and bribery, and ignored everything else.

Barak’s “offspring” on the Supreme Court have prevailed such that not one of them supports legislation containing Jewish components that are not in alignment with their “pure democracy.”

Based on this, I’ve been thinking that it’s time to change the phrase, “Jewish and democratic,” to one that is more consistent with actual policy, such as “national and democratic.”

The proposal to help correct this situation and to declare Israel to be a “Jewish state” as a Basic Law has been on the table for some time now, waiting for the Israeli government that is not as intimidated by the Supreme Court and by the US President.

Democracy vs Self-Serving Interests

We now turn to the current conflict between the Justice Minister and Chief Justice Miriam Naor. As of 2008, the committee to appoint new judges required only simple majority, but this year a law was passed – claiming to be democratic – which requires a supermajority of 7 members. The change in effect gives veto power to the Judiciary establishment.

Justice Minister Shaked supports a bill that would restore the previous status quo.

I admit, there are political considerations to take into account in the appointment of judges, but the furious battle of the current Chief Justice against this sensible and democratic proposal flies in the face of her avowed allegiance to democracy and instead promotes just the opposite.