Supreme Court President Esther Hayut (L), President Reuven Rivlin (C), Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (R) at the President's Residence, May 7, 2018.
(photo credit: PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON OFFICE)
The swearing in of 29 new judges at the President’s Residence on Tuesday, although festive carried an air of discord.
Supreme Court President Esther Hayut and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked publicly thanked each other for the cooperation. Hayut noted that in the past year, the judicial appointments committee headed by Shaked appointed 100 new judges and court registrars, Shaked as well expressed her appreciation to both Hayut and her predecessor Miriam Naor, saying that despite their disputes they had worked well together. However, the tension between the two women was almost palpable.
It was impossible to ignore the satisfied tone in Hayut’s voice as she said these would be the final judicial appointments during the current Knesset.
President Reuven Rivlin and Hayut condemned the maligning of public servants. While acknowledging that all public servants can be criticized, they drew the line between legitimate criticism and character assassination.
Rivlin was particularly perturbed by allegations against the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), saying that it was under fire. Rivlin declared that care must be taken to avoid senseless attacks on those who defend the nation and its borders, conceding that there can be no democracy without criticism. It is thanks to the Shin Bet, he said that people in Israel can sleep soundly at night. Although he made no mention of them, Rivlin alluded to charges made by the families and supporters of the alleged Jewish terrorists, who are suspected of being responsible for the death of Aisha Rabi, a Palestinian mother of eight children who died after a rock was thrown at her head.
Rivlin said that all of Israel’s security forces, particularly the Shin Bet, have his backing.
The silent elephant in the room was Shaked’s recent meeting with the families of the alleged terrorists.
Both Rivlin and Hayut emphasized the importance of judicial impartiality and the need to remain uninfluenced by public opinion. Hayut also spoke of judicial independence and maintaining the trust of the public, without favoring or fearing individuals. The public expects its judges to be people of integrity, she said. “To be a judge is a way of life with a code of ethics that has to be observed not only in the court but outside of it as well.”
Shaked said that she had tried to restore pluralism to the judiciary. She said that pluralism is something one would expect in Israel, but noted how every time a minister of justice tried to introduce new concepts to the system, he or she was accused of fascism and the destruction of democracy.
Proud that she had succeeded by appointing judges who did not think las such, she implied that the battle was not yet over.
Anyone who dared to question the system she said, was regarded as someone who had an agenda – “and their entry to the citadel was blocked.”
Hayut insisted that judges do not live in an ivory tower. They live among the people, and while in court meet people from every sector of society.
Labor Court President Varda Virt Livne stressed the importance of the pursuit of justice, but noted that many cases could be resolved through comprise.
Of the 29 judges and senior registrars, eight were appointed to District Courts; one to a regional Labor Court, 15 were appointed as judges in Magistrates Courts and five senior registrars were also appointed to the Magistrates Courts.
The appointment ceremony in bygone years was always conducted by the registrar of the Supreme Court or of the National Labor Court, but the last two were led by veteran radio and television personality, Dan Kaner.
In yet another departure from the past is the ages of the judges, most of who have young children. The number of children present on Tuesday accounted for close to a third of the people in the main reception hall – which was packed to full capacity.
Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>