May 14, 2019


Supreme Court president invokes Nazi era in implicit swipe at Netanyahu: Esther Hayut says judicial institutions can't 'withstand every attack'; PM said to be seeking legislation that would shatter judicial oversight (MICHAEL BACHNER, 5/14/19, Times of Israel)

The chief justice of Israel's Supreme Court on Tuesday made a speech in Nuremberg, Germany, that expressed implied criticism of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's planned judicial reforms and invoked the Nazi takeover of Germany in the 1930s.

"History is not repeating itself," Esther Hayut clarified at an event hosted by the Israeli German Lawyers Association, "but it gives us the opportunity to learn from it and enables us to see patterns and judge for ourselves." [...]

Hayut, referring to the 1935 Nuremberg Laws, said that, in the very city where she was speaking, "law and justice reached one of the lowest points in human history," in the country that had "one of the most progressive constitutions protecting human rights and liberties -- the Weimar Constitution."

As proof that institutions protecting democracy could not "withstand every attack," Hayut cited a 1933 editorial in a German Jewish newspaper that argued that Adolf Hitler and his newly elected Nazi party wouldn't be able to carry out their stated plans due to the country's checks and balances on government power.

"One of the universal lessons we should learn from the historical events I mentioned is that judicial independence, on the institutional and personal level, is one of the most important guarantees that the individual has an address to turn to to protect their rights," she said.

"The safeguarding of that principle and judges' independence is therefore one of the cornerstones of every democratic regime," Hayut continued.

She mentioned the quasi-constitutional 1992 Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty, the main legislation protecting human rights in Israel.

"In order for the provisions of this Basic Law to be fulfilled in practice and receive adequate protection, judicial review is needed. And for 25 years, the Supreme Court of Israel has indeed been conducting judicial review of the validity of laws, out of the view that human dignity is the primary right, from which most human rights are derived," Hayut said.

One of the objectives of the proposed legislation in coalition talks is thought to be a possible Knesset decision to grant Netanyahu retroactive immunity from a series of criminal cases in which he is facing an indictment.

Posted by at May 14, 2019 4:08 AM