PRESIDENT REUVEN RIVLIN speaks with Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court Judge Miriam Banki yesterday, as National Labor Court President Yigal Plitman looks on..
(photo credit: MARK NEYMAN/GPO)
Of the 13 judges appointed on Thursday, seven were women – and one of these in particular was singled out by President Reuven Rivlin. She was Miriam Banki, better known as Mika, the mother of Shira Banki, the bright 16-year-old who was fatally stabbed in July 2015 while marching in the annual Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade.
Though heterosexual herself, Shira, came to demonstrate solidarity with her friends, and was stabbed by Yishai Schissel, a homophobic haredi man who had been jailed for an attack at the 2005 parade and been released from prison three weeks before he killed Banki.
Rivlin later visited the Banki family, and on the first anniversary of Shira’s death, Rivlin and his wife, Nechama, invited the Bankis to come to the President’s Residence.
In his opening remarks on Thursday, Rivlin said that when he visits bereaved families, a minute before the door closes behind him as he leaves, he prays that the next time they meet it will be to celebrate a happy occasion.
Thursday was such a day, when Mika Banki in her new role as a judge in the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court pledged her allegiance to the state and its laws and her intention to dispense justice fairly, not to pervert the law and not to show favor.
Ordinarily each new judge, after making the pledge, moves forward to receive the certificate testifying to his or her appointment and shakes hands with Rivlin, Supreme Court President Miriam Naor, National Labor Court President Yigal Plitman and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked.
But when Banki approached the group, Rivlin embraced her.
Of the 13 new appointees, one was appointed to the National Labor Court, eight to district courts, three to magistrate’s courts and one as a senior court registrar.
Although the word Amona was not uttered by any of the four speakers, the subject of the West Bank outpost, which the High Court of Justice has ordered evacuated by December 25, was palpable in what three of them said.
“It’s clear to all of us that you will be confronted with disputes, and more than once you will find yourselves in the eye of the storm,” said Rivlin, but disputes are natural in a healthy society, he continued. “They’re the spice of life.”
There are now major storms and disputes, he said, but he urged the judges not to be afraid of disputes and not to back away from them.
The legal system is important to all of us as is the status and esteem of the Supreme Court. The legislature which represents the people is also important, as is the executive branch which leads the country, he said, tacitly implying that the three branches were not always in accord.
Then came a reference to Amona.
Naor said, “A majority that harms the minority that lives in its midst is not a democratic administration.”
There is no democracy without separation of powers, she said. “There is no democracy without human rights.”