Shimon Peres congratulates311.
(photo credit: Moshe Milner/GPO)
If there is any area in Israel in which the glass ceiling has been well and truly broken, it’s the judiciary. Of
22 new judges who were sworn in at the President’s Residence on Monday, 11 were
The first of the 22 was Lea Glicksman Kocavi; she was appointed to
the National Labor Court whose President Nili Arad is also a woman, as is Dorit
Beinisch, president of the Supreme Court.
When addressing the new judges,
who are serving in district, magistrate’s, labor, family and traffic courts
across the country, President Shimon Peres turned initially to the judicial
appointments committee and praised its members for making “a just decision” by
appointing equal numbers of male and female judges.
makes the argument that there can be no true democracy in places in which women
are not treated as equals.
There were also several representatives
minority communities among the new judges, but no direct mention was made of
equality for minorities.
Emphasizing that Israel’s democratic system is
built on the separation of powers of the legislature, the administrative branch
and the judiciary, Peres said that each of these institutions has its authority
and its limitations. Executives, he underscored, cannot be judges.
country that does not enforce separation of powers, and does not maintain the
essential balance between these powers is in danger of being dominated by a
despot or by a small sect of people, he said.
He said that in recent
times, certain factions have risen up against the judiciary, and have questioned
and expressed lack of confidence in its authority.
Peres said he had no
quarrel with those who were critical of the courts, but he drew the line between
criticism and denial of the authority of the judiciary.
Trust in the
judiciary is the final defense against those who would appeal against the very
foundations of democracy, he said.
Although founding prime minister David
Ben-Gurion and longtime opposition leader Menachem Begin, who finally became
prime minister in 1977, agreed on hardly anything, said Peres, what they did
agree on were the values of democracy and the supremacy of the court
Peres declared his pride in a judicial system in which all people
were equal under the law and in the eyes of the judges. He cautioned against any
political interference in the judicial system, because to allow it would be a
step in the path to self-destruction.
Beinisch welcomed the new judges,
saying they would do much to alleviate the backlog in the
Prevention of violence, promotion of equality and defense of the
rights of all citizens were the primary objectives of the courts, she said,
insisting that the courts must intervene when rights of citizens are
Beinisch lamented the fact that the courts were never at the
top of the agenda of any government of Israel, saying that was one of the
reasons that the number of cases was beyond the capacity of the number of judges
in the system.
She reminded the new judges that behind every case file
was a human being who had turned to the courts for justice.
carried a heavy responsibility, she said.
“Don’t disappoint those who put
their trust in you,” she urged.
Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman quoted
both from the scriptures and from Rambam, and stressed that in any judgment,
what was of paramount importance was that justice had been
Being a judge was one of the most difficult of all professions
because a judge always has to serve as an example to the rest of society, he