TV series on landmark Supreme Court rulings aims to educate public on legal process

Educational Television is scheduled to broadcast the first part of an eight-part series on landmark decisions handed down by the Supreme Court over the decades that had a powerful impact on Israeli society, spokespersons for Educational TV and the Courts Administration told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday. The first program will deal with the High Court of Justice decision of 1999 prohibiting systematic interrogation techniques used by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) that inflicted physical pain on Palestinian security detainees and were branded as torture by the petitioners. The series will be broadcast each week on Thursday on Channel 23 at 9:25 p.m. and on Channel 2 at 5:30 p.m. "The aim of the series is to make the public more aware of the legal process," Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch said, in an interview with Ha'aretz. "The public does not know enough about the task of the courts. Much of its knowledge is based on the image projected by the media. "Unfortunately, the work of the court is projected in a sensationalist manner, but the actual substance of its work is more complicated to understand." According to Courts Administration spokeswoman Ayelet Filo, the series originated with a special government committee established to mark 60 years of Israeli independence. The committee asked each government branch to come up with a special idea for celebrating the anniversary. Court officials suggested preparing a series dealing with crucial High Court decisions over the years. The series will deal with topics including children's rights, the right to equality, state and religion, minority rights, security, multiculturalism and judicial activism. Each program will feature a Supreme Court justice including former Supreme Court presidents Meir Shamgar and Aharon Barak, and Justices Mishael Cheshin, Eliyahu Mazza, Yitzhak Zamir, Tova Strasberg-Cohen and Dalia Dorner. The actual petitioners or other people involved in the petition will appear in each program and explain what the petition was about and their feelings on the matter. The program will also include reconstructions of scenes from the hearings acted out by lawyer-performers. Filo said the programs would later be shown in schools. "The public does not read verdicts," said Beinisch. "For years, we have been trying to cultivate the educational aspect together with the Education Ministry. For years, we have been allowing school children into the courtrooms as part of this educational effort "The way the courts work and the matters that are taken into consideration differ from other government institutions. It is important to understand their role."