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Injustice Minister Yariv Levin

What kind of justices does Levin purportedly believe the High Court needs? The kind that do not protect minority rights
Justice Minister Yariv Levin holds a press conference at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, on January 4, 2023. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90 *** Local Caption *** כנסת
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Justice Minister Yariv Levin unveils his plan for overhauling the judicial system during a press conference at the Knesset on January 4, 2023. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

In mid-March, three months into mass nationwide protests against his proposed judicial overhaul, Justice Minister Yariv Levin inadvertently conceded that a key piece of his legislation could lead to a situation unacceptable in a democratic country, in which the coalition would exercise control over all three branches of government.

In an interview with Channel 14, Levin said that while many arguments against his proposals were baseless, he accepted a charge made by critics against the original judicial appointments bill, which would have handed the coalition an automatic majority on the panel that chooses judges. Such a change, he admitted, would “lead to a situation in which all three branches of government become one branch.”

“This could ultimately lead to a constitutional crisis, is a claim that can’t be ignored — this cannot happen in a democratic country,” Levin said.

Levin’s inadvertent acknowledgment of the danger his original judicial appointments bill posed to the consolidation of power was on its own deeply troubling. Such an admission signaled acknowledgment of the potential erosion of democratic checks and balances, where all three branches of government could merge into an ominous amalgamation. The unintended unveiling of this dangerous agenda raised critical questions about the true intentions behind Levin’s judicial overhaul.

However, Levin’s latest remarks, reportedly made on Sunday at a cabinet meeting no less, provide an even more concerning perspective on the dangers of the government’s overhaul plan. According to multiple reports not denied by the justice minister, Levin stated that the Supreme Court must feature justices who “understand” why Jewish Israelis would not be “prepared to live with Arabs” in mixed localities.

“Arabs buy apartments in Jewish communities in the Galilee and this causes Jews to leave these cities, because they are not prepared to live with Arabs. We need to ensure that the Supreme Court has justices who understand this,” Levin was reported to have said.

His comments are essential to recognizing the inherent peril of these reforms, which not only undermine the delicate balance between branches of government but also, crucially, jeopardize the fundamental principles of equality and democracy. This is the real danger at hand.

By advocating for justices who align with specific demographic preferences, Levin marginalizes and discriminates against minority communities. This stance strikes at the heart of democratic principles, undermining the core tenets of equality and fairness that form the bedrock of any inclusive society. The danger lies not only in the consolidation of power within the government but specifically in the resultant erosion of minority rights.

It is now evident that at the core of Levin’s proposed judicial overhaul is the dismantling of safeguards in place to protect such rights. Granting the coalition unilateral control over the appointment of Supreme Court justices and the selection of the Supreme Court president weakens the independence of the judiciary. This power imbalance undermines the vital role of the courts as a check on potential governmental overreach, leaving minority communities vulnerable to discrimination and marginalization. The proposed reforms strip away the critical protections necessary for a flourishing democracy.

To preserve the democratic essence upon which Israel was built and protect the rights of all citizens, safeguarding minority communities is paramount. Upholding the principles of equality, justice, and the rule of law requires an unwavering commitment to an independent judiciary, free from undue political influence. It is therefore imperative that Israeli citizens, lawmakers, and activists rally against the judicial overhaul, advocating for a judiciary that upholds the principles of equality and safeguards the rights of all citizens, regardless of their background.

Levin’s proposed judicial overhaul poses a significant threat to the democratic foundations of Israel; his latest comments prove he is not worthy of his title of justice minister. By his own words and actions, he has revealed the dangers that lie within his reforms and shown his commitment to injustice instead. The marginalization of minority rights, coupled with the concentration of power within the government, undermines the fundamental principles that Israel was built upon. The urgency to act to protect these principles cannot be overstated. Only through resolute collective action can we ensure that equality, justice, and the protection of minority rights remain the pillars upon which Israel’s democratic identity stands firm.

About the Author
Raoul Wootliff is the Times of Israel's former political correspondent and producer of the Daily Briefing podcast.
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