Israel at the Crossroads | Commentary in The Jerusalem Report by Natasha Srdoc and Joel Anand Samy
Judicial Reforms | As Israel’s legislators work to rein in the Supreme Court’s near absolute power, they should create a constitution and Bill of Rights to ensure the rule of law.
February 2023 | Washington, DC | Jerusalem — In the Jerusalem Report, the editorially independent biweekly newsmagazine presented a special feature on Israel’s proposed judicial reforms and the ensuing robust debate on the future of the rule of law in the Jewish State. Natasha Srdoc, MBA and Joel Anand Samy, co-founders of the International Leaders Summit and Jerusalem Leaders Summit write about the importance of creating a constitution and Bill of Rights to affirm the rule of law.
Brief excerpt: “Israel at the Crossroads”
“The alternative to power is law: law freely accepted and freely obeyed. Only by observing the rule of law — law that applies equally to the rich and poor, the powerful and powerless — do we escape the tragic cycle of freedom that begets conflict that leads to chaos, resulting in the use of force that generates tyranny, the freedom of the few and the enslavement of the many.” — the late former British Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks
Over the past few weeks, tens of thousands of Israelis, including former prime minister Yair Lapid, who was joined by his colleagues from the opposition, took to the streets in Tel Aviv to protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new government and its proposed judicial reforms.
Indignation toward Israel’s judicial reforms was predictably expressed by international media groups including The New York Times’ editorial board which presented a commentary on December 17, 2022 titled “The Ideal of Democracy in a Jewish State Is in Jeopardy.” The newspaper stated: “Moderating forces in Israeli politics and civil society are already planning energetic resistance to legislation that would curtail the powers of the Israeli Supreme Court or the rights of the Arab minority or the LGBTQ community. They deserve support from the American public and from the Biden administration.”
The curtailing of the powers of the Supreme Court is exactly what Israel needs for the rule of law to prevail.
Israel must curtail the Supreme Court’s powers to let rule of law prevail
Unlike the United States of America, Israel does not have a constitution. The Knesset’s website states its concerns of failed attempts to draft a formal constitution since 1948, and the evolution of basic laws and rights, which have semi-constitutional status. The Knesset also warns that the Bill of Rights in the basic laws is unfinished.
While Israel’s power struggle unfolds in front of the world, proponents of the Jewish state’s judicial reforms, once even supported by leaders from the left, have aspired to incorporate a structure for justice similar to the United States of America.
As Israel’s legislators work to rein in the Supreme Court’s near absolute power and dedicate themselves to proper checks and balances, they would do well by working toward creating a formal constitution and “Bill of Rights” similar to America’s founding document which cement the ideals of individual liberty, limited government, and the rule of law while ensuring proper checks and balances of democratic institutions and strict laws to root out political corruption.
This principled endeavor would create a foundation instilling trust and greater confidence among citizens and voters and ensuring that no one is above the law.
Natasha Srdoc, MBA and Joel Anand Samy are co-founders of the International Leaders Summit and The Jerusalem Leaders Summit. For two decades, the authors have articulated concerns about the erosion of the rule of law in the West through policy events in America and Europe, and marked by the inaugural Jerusalem Leaders Summit in 2015. The convening of justice experts and successful reform leaders in Israel emphasized the importance of accountability and transparency of democratic institutions and limited government in the West, applying checks and balances, and implementing principled measures to address political corruption.
The Jerusalem Report is an editorially independent biweekly newsmagazine that offers original journalism from Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world. Founded in 1990, The Jerusalem Report consistently aims to bridge the gaps between Israel and the Diaspora, and honestly assess Israel's relations with its Arab neighbors.
Further reading and viewing: