November 17: Choosing justices...

The Knesset is our supreme political body due to simple fact: We have no framed and sealed constitution that would be above its current primacy.

Israeli Supreme Court 311 (photo credit: REUTERS/FILE)
Israeli Supreme Court 311
(photo credit: REUTERS/FILE)
Choosing justices...
Sir, – Much criticism has been levelled lately at several MKs for having the political “gall” to initiate changes in the way we choose Supreme Court justices (“Judicial selection reform bills pass preliminary Knesset votes,” November 15).
Like it or not, the Knesset is our supreme political body due to a simple fact: We have no framed and sealed constitution that would be above its current primacy.
The Knesset combines the functions of a constitutional assembly, a legislative parliament and a quasi-executive body that includes the prime minister and almost all ministers and their deputies.
Since its inception, the Knesset has passed Basic Laws in order to establish orderly governmental procedures and lay the framework for a future constitution.
These Basic Laws, including the Judicial Authority, can be amended at any time by a majority of 61 MKs. This includes the procedure by which judges are chosen.
Sir, – The proposed law requiring Supreme Court nominees to appear before the Knesset has been described as a bad law, a violation of the separation of powers, and even as an assault on democracy. Funny. I always thought the United States was a democracy with a strong tradition of separation of powers.
Apparently I was wrong, because American law requires a Supreme Court nominee to appear before the Senate Judicial Committee and then the full Senate for approval.
Is this a good idea? That point could be argued, but it is certainly not a violation of the separation of powers or an assault on democracy.
On the other hand, it is a serious violation of the separation of powers and a true assault on democracy when a court has a hand in choosing its own members.
Forget the idea of Knesset approval – a better bill would eliminate the Supreme Court from the selection committee.
The writer was an attorney in the United States whose practice included appeals to the Supreme Court
...and sides
Sir, – In her usual and almost Pavlovian attack on the Israeli Left and especially the country’s Supreme Court, Caroline B. Glick (“Defending Israeli democracy,” Our World, November 15) reserves special anger and resentment for three of the Likud’s most distinguished members – ministers Bennie Begin, Michael Eitan and Dan Meridor – because they had the audacity to oppose the bills describes in her article.
She continues to dismiss and denigrate these ministers, and even Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, for giving “the radical left the necessary political cover to torpedo previous parliamentary initiatives to protect Israel’s democratic institutions from their foreign- funded onslaughts.”
She obviously wrote the column before Monday’s Knesset votes on the bills, because noticeably absent were several other very respected Likud ministers, including the prime minister himself. While Binyamin Netanyahu’s absence was apparently due to the recent death of his father-in-law, Glick will obviously have to add quite a few names to her list of left-wing sympathizers among a very obviously right-wing coalition.
GERSHON HARRIS Hatzor Haglilit
Defining a column
Sir, – Although I may not agree with him, I have considered Shmuley Boteach a careful writer.
So his personal comment while discussing the late co-founder of Apple (“Lessons from the brutal truth about Steve Jobs,” Comment & Features, November 15) about being “orders of magnitude less successful than he (as indeed I am)...” surprised me.
What could possibly be Boteach’s definition of success? He may well have meant less financially successful, but he didn’t say that. Freudian slip maybe, but nurturing relationships and striving to leave behind a good name define success in life.
Each of us can strive in some way to fulfill the purpose we have been uniquely assigned. We can dedicate our energies toward attaining these goals. But measuring one’s success against that of another on the money scale is delusive and defeating.
Sir, – The topic of his column is Steve Jobs, but at the end, Shmuley Boteach segues into what has become a favorite for him of late – US politics. Which begs the question: What qualifies him to be an expert on US politics? Boteach was presumably given his column based on his unique niche as an Orthodox rabbi willing to talk candidly about sex, and on the knowledge and experience he has in that area. Yet he engages in the time-honored but questionable custom practiced by many a rabbi, that of using his bully pulpit to give weight to political views about which he is no more knowledgeable than any layperson.
In this column, Boteach argues that Jimmy Carter – intelligent but ineffectual – proves that being smart doesn’t necessarily lead to being a good president.
This might be true. But having worked at Oxford, the rabbi surely knows it doesn’t prove the inverse, that lack of intelligence is an asset for a potential president.
On the contrary, common sense dictates that, all other things being equal, we want the leader of the most powerful nation to be well-versed in the complex issues affecting the US and the world.
Boteach’s belief that for GOP hopeful Rick Perry, surrounding himself with “really bright people” is a perfectly good substitute for intelligence, is a case of deja-vu: The exact same argument was made for then-candidate George W. Bush, another Texas governor with a lackluster grasp of national issues. (And we all know how that presidency worked out.) Using Boteach’s own rabbinic advice – that we refrain from overly blunt and hurtful remarks – I encourage him to continue writing about those issues on which he is an expert!
One man’s Top 10
Sir, – Regarding “EU ministers divided over strike on Iran” (November 15), the following are the top 10 reasons why bombing that country is moronic at best: 10. The Israeli intelligence services are dead-set against the idea.
9. Experts in field believe that, if successful, it would delay the program by only two years.
8. Intelligence estimates say 100,000 missiles are now on line, including many with advanced systems and enhanced range and accuracy, not only in Iran but also in Gaza, Lebanon and Syria.
7. Israel can expect a missile barrage on its major cities for 40 days and 40 nights.
6. Israeli commanders have woefully underestimated enemy resolve and capability over the past five years.
5. As proven in recent forest fires, Israeli firefighting infrastructure approaches Third World standards and would be woefully ineffective.
4. Iranian mullahs are not suicidal. Even if they had a few baby bombs they would be in no hurry to launch them. They all want to live to pray another day for the death of Israel.
3. Within 20 minutes of an attack, Iran is expected to shut down the very narrow Strait of Hormuz. Almost a third of the world’s oil flows through this strait. Gasoline in the US would jump to $10 a gallon overnight. The expected six-month closing of this chokepoint would devastate the global economy.
2. Much of the supplies for American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan flow through this strait. America will not have time to procure alternate routes.
1. And as to whether it’s “good for the Jews,” no way! Jews all over the world would be blamed for the consequences of this action even if it succeeded and made Israel “safer.”
New York