MKs, NGOs slam lack of Sephardi Supreme Court justices

“The court needs to be reflective of society and include Mizrahi justices,” judicial expert tells 'Post.'

November 16, 2011 05:12
1 minute read.
High Court of Justice [file]

high court panel citizenship law 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

As controversy over the process of judicial appointments to the Supreme Court heated up this week, so did the debate over the ethnic makeup of the court’s members.

NGOs, politicians and legal experts have all called for increased Sephardi representation on the country’s most important legal institution.

“Since [Edmund] Levi retired, there are no Mizrahi [Sephardi] justices on the Supreme Court judiciary,” Prof. Shimon Shetreet, a judicial expert, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday. “The court needs to be reflective of society and include Mizrahi justices.”

MK Yaakov Katz (National Union) told the Post on Tuesday that the Supreme Court should be taken to account over its lack of Sephardi justices, accusing it of looking like a “clique” that selected justices based on friendships, and saying, like Shetreet, that the judiciary did not reflect the composition of Israeli society.

“If you look in any large company in Israel, if you look at the army, you will see that there are Jews from all over the world,” said Katz. “There are many Mizrahi Jews in the legal profession. So why aren’t there any Mizrahi justices on the Supreme Court? Someone should call [Supreme Court President Dorit] Beinisch and ask her why not.”

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel also called for Sephardi representation on the Supreme Court. Its president, Sami Michael, said on Tuesday that Mizrahi Jews, Arabs and also women were underrepresented on what he dubbed “an important fortress of Israeli democracy.”

“If we want to live in a country that respects the different voices of its citizens, that diversity must be reflected in all walks of life, including in the highest judicial body,” Michael said. “Mizrahi underrepresentation on the Supreme Court could alienate this population, which could play into the hands of those enemies of democracy who want to undermine the court.”

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