Judiciary gets 22 new judges

Ceremony at President’s Residence welcomes 22 new judges, half of which are women, a move President Shimon Peres calls "just".

Shimon Peres congratulates311 (photo credit: Moshe Milner/GPO)
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 women.
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.
Peres frequently 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.
Any 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 system.
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 courts.
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 threatened.
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.
Judges 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 attained.
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 said.