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Looking back to 2016: “Israel’s Supreme Court strives to find right balance between security needs, civil rights”

Introduction: In the June 8, 2016 issue of The Jewish Post & News Myron Love reported on an event that had been held at Congregation Etz Chayim that May. The event was a presentation by an emissary of the World Zionist Organization by the name of Rotem Malach about the important – and balanced role, Israel’s Supreme Court had played in that country to that point. The article also delved into a documentary film about the tenure of Aharon Barak as President of the Supreme Court for an 11-year period, from 1995-2006. Barak is now held up as an example of a too activist, too liberal judge by those who would seek to emasculate Israel’s Supreme Court and turn it into nothing more than a handmaiden of Israel’s Knesset.
We thought it timely to republish that article, especially since Israel’s Supreme Court has been the subject of withering criticism by many right-wingers in that country.

Here is that article:
By MYRON LOVE
It is a real challenge in a democratic society in our current age of terrorism to find the right balance between civil liberties and the needs of security. In Israel, which has been living under the threat of terrorism throughout the country’s entire existence, there is an added layer to deal with in finding that balance between religious and civil law.
For Israel’s Supreme Court, finding that mean is akin to walking a tightrope – which happens to have been the theme for a presentation – on Thursday, May 19, at Congregation Etz Chayim – by one Rotem Malach. Currently based in San Francisco, Malach is the central emissary of the World Zionist Organization’s Department of Diaspora Activities for North American. His stopover in Winnipeg was part of a cross Canada tour to raise awareness of the role of Israel’s Supreme Court in “defending and shaping the Jewish and democratic identity of the State of Israel”.
The central part of Malach’s presentation was a showing of the documentary film, “The Judge”, which focuses on the life and career of Aharon Barak, who served on the Supreme Court for almost 30 years and served as President of the Court from 1995 to 2006. Barak’s interview during the film was also the only interview that he ever gave.

But first, some preliminaries. Malach noted that the court is staffed by 15 judges (although individual cases are judged by smaller groupings of judges). Judges in Israel are not political appointees, he said. The following are qualified to be appointed Justice of the Supreme Court: a person who has held office as a judge of a District Court for a period of five years, or has taught law at a university. Supreme Court Justices are appointed by a Judicial Selection Committee composed of nine members – including three sitting Supreme Court Justices (including the President of the Supreme Court), two cabinet min- isters (one of them being the Minister of Justice), two other Knesset members, and two representatives of the Israel Bar Association. The committee is chaired by the Minister of Justice.
As Malach pointed out, political persuasion (left or right wing, Conservative or (left or right wing, Conservative or Liberal, religious or secular, Jewish or Arab) plays no role in the selection. Current Supreme Court members include four women (one of whom is president) and one Christian Arab.

In the documentary, Aharon Barak comes across as a man of great courage and high principle who was focused on find- ing the right balance for the good of Israeli society. A child Holocaust survivor (he was hidden by a family in Lithuania), he first came to prominence in 1977 when, as Israel’s attorney-general, he prosecuted Leah Rabin for having an American bank account (which was illegal in Israel at that time) and forced Prime Minister Itzhak Rabin to resign.
As he noted in the interview, that case showed that no one in Israel is above the law.
At the Camp David accords, he was the primary Israeli negotiator in the negotiations that led to the Israel-Egypt peace treaty.
As a member of the Supreme Court and President of the court, he was involved in a number of controversial decisions, one example of which was ruling in 1996 that a certain main road in Jerusalem should be kept open on Shabbat outside of hours of prayer. That decision brought an estimated 400,000 Haredim on to the streets of Jerusalem surrounding the Supreme Court building to protest the decision.
Among other rulings during his tenure were that Israeli soldiers were not allowed to place Palestinian civilians in danger by having Palestinians knock on doors of houses that IDF soldiers were about to raid, and that the separation barrier (dividing Israel proper and Israeli communities across the Green Line from the Palestinian territories) is legal (with some minor modifications).

Following the film, Malach led his audience through a sheet with a series of statements about what is and isn’t legal in Israel. The answers were often surprising. For example, gay marriage, interfaith marriages and civil marriages are all legally recognized in Israel. The catch is that the marriages have to be performed outside of Israel because the rabbinate doesn’t recognize them.
Similarly, Reform and Conservative conversions are recognized in Israel despite the refusal of the Orthodox Rabbinate to recognize such conversions.
The sale of pork is also legal in Israel in certain areas.

“The values of human rights have a supreme legal status in the State of Israel,” Malach summed up, “and the Supreme Court of Israel is one of the strongest and most active courts in the world when it comes to protecting human rights.”

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Israel

Hamas murdered their friend. Now, they help Israeli soldiers to keep his memory alive

David Newman (right): David died helping to save the lives of others who were at the music festival on October 7 when Hamas massacred hundreds of attendees

By VIRGINIA ALLEN (The Daily Signal) David Newman sent a text to a friend the morning of Saturday, Oct. 7. Something terrible had happened. Word quickly spread among Newman’s group of friends, who had known each other since high school.
Newman, 25, had traveled the night before to the music festival in southern Israel, close to the border with the Gaza Strip. It was supposed to be a fun weekend with his girlfriend “celebrating life,” something Newman, who served with the Israel Defense Forces, was good at and loved to do, friend Gidon Hazony recalls.
When Hazony learned that Newman, his longtime friend, was in danger, he and another friend decided they were “going to go down and try and save him.” Trained as a medic and armed with a handgun and bulletproof vest, Hazony started driving south from Jerusalem.
Hazony and his friend ended up joining with other medical personnel and “treated probably around 50 soldiers and civilians in total that day,” Hazony recalls, but they kept trying to make it south to rescue Newman.

But the two “never made it down to the party, and that’s probably for the best,” Hazony says, “because that area was completely taken over by terrorists. And if we had gone down there, I think we would’ve been killed.”
Hazony later learned that Hamas terrorists had murdered Newman on Oct. 7, but not before Newman had saved nearly 300 lives, including the life of his girlfriend.
When the terrorists began their attack on the music festival, many attendees began running to their cars. But Newman and his girlfriend encountered a police officer who warned them to run the opposite direction because the terrorists were near the vehicles, says David Gani, another friend of Newman’s.
Newman “ran in the opposite direction with his girlfriend and whoever else he could kind of corral with him,” Gani explains during an interview on “The Daily Signal Podcast.”
“They saw two industrial garbage cans, big containers, and so David told everyone, ‘Hide, hide in those containers,’” Gani says. “And so what he did over the course of the next few hours is, he would take people and … he was this big guy, and he would just chuck them in that container. And then he would go in, wait, wait till the coast is clear, and then he’d go back out, find more people, put them in there.”
Newman’s actions that day, and the atrocities Hazony and so many others in Israel witnessed Oct. 7, led Hazony, Gani, and several friends to quit their jobs and set up a nonprofit called Soldiers Save Lives. The organization is working to collect tactical and humanitarian aid for the Israel Defense Forces, or IDF.
According to the group’s website, Soldiers Save Lives has supplied over 20 IDF units and civilian response teams “with protective and self-defense gear.”
Gani, board chairman, chief financial officer, and chief technology officer of Soldiers Save Lives, and Hazony, president of the organization, recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to raise support and awareness for their mission to provide IDF troops with needed supplies.
If you would like to find out more about Soldiers Save Lives or donate to them, go to https://www.soldierssavelives.org/
Reprinted with permission.

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Israel

Our New Jewish Reality

Indigo bookstore in Toronto defaced

By HENRY SREBRNIK Since Oct. 7, we Jews have been witnessing an ongoing political and psychological pogrom. True, there have been no deaths (so far), but we’ve seen the very real threat of mobs advocating violence and extensive property damage of Jewish-owned businesses, and all this with little forceful reaction from the authorities.
The very day after the carnage, Canadians awoke to the news that the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust had inspired sustained celebrations in its major cities. And they have continued ever since. I’d go so far as to say the Trudeau government has, objectively, been more interested in preventing harm to Gazans than caring about the atrocities against Israelis and their state.
For diaspora Jews, the attacks of Oct. 7 were not distant overseas events and in this country since then they have inspired anti-Semitism, pure and simple, which any Jew can recognize. Even though it happened in Israel, it brought back the centuries-old memories of defenseless Jews being slaughtered in a vicious pogrom by wild anti-Semites.
I think this has shocked, deeply, most Jews, even those completely “secular” and not all that interested in Judaism, Israel or “Zionism.” Jewish parents, especially, now fear for their children in schools and universities. The statements universities are making to Jewish students across the country could not be clearer: We will not protect you, they all but scream. You’re on your own.
But all this has happened before, as we know from Jewish history. Long before Alfred Dreyfus and Theodor Herzl, the 1881 pogroms in tsarist Russia led to an awakening of proto-Zionist activity there, with an emphasis on the land of Israel. There were soon new Jewish settlements in Palestine.
The average Jew in Canada now knows that his or her friend at a university, his co-worker in an office, and the people he or she socializes with, may in fact approve, or at least not disapprove, of what happened that day in Israel. Acquaintances or even close friends may care far more about Israel killing Palestinians in Gaza. Such people may even believe what we may call “Hamas pogrom denial,” already being spread. Many people have now gone so far in accepting the demonization of Israel and Jews that they see no penalty attached to public expressions of Jew-hatred. Indeed, many academics scream their hatred of Israel and Jews as loud as possible.
One example: On Nov. 10, Toronto officers responded to a call at an Indigo bookstore located in the downtown. It had been defaced with red paint splashed on its windows and the sidewalk, and posters plastered to its windows.
The eleven suspects later arrested claimed that Indigo founder Heather Reisman (who is Jewish) was “funding genocide” because of her financial support of the HESEG Foundation for Lone Soldiers, which provides scholarships to foreign nationals who study in Israel after serving in the Israeli armed forces. By this logic, then, most Jewish properties and organizations could be targeted, since the vast majority of Jews are solidly on Israel’s side.
Were these vandals right-wing thugs or people recently arrived from the Middle East? No, those charged were mostly white middle-class professionals. Among them are figures from academia, the legal community, and the public education sector. Four are academics connected to York University (one of them a former chair of the Sociology Department) and a fifth at the University of Toronto; two are elementary school teachers; another a paralegal at a law firm.
Were their students and colleagues dismayed by this behaviour? On the contrary. Some faculty members, staff and students at the university staged a rally in their support. These revelations have triggered discussions about the role and responsibilities of educators, given their influential positions in society.
You’ve heard the term “quiet quitting.” I think many Jews will withdraw from various clubs and organizations and we will begin to see, in a sense like in the 1930s, a reversal of assimilation, at least in the social sphere. (Of course none of this applies to Orthodox Jews, who already live this way.)
Women in various feminist organizations may form their own groups or join already existing Jewish women’s groups. There may be an increase in attendance in K-12 Jewish schools. In universities, “progressive” Jewish students will have to opt out of organizations whose members, including people they considered friends, have been marching to the slogan “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” and similar eliminationist rhetoric, while waving Palestinian flags.
This will mostly affect Jews on the left, who may be supporters of organizations which have become carriers of anti-Semitism, though ostensibly dealing with “human rights,” “social justice,” and even “climate change.”
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg took part in a demonstration outside the Israeli Embassy in Stockholm on Oct. 22 in which she chanted “crush Zionism” along with hundreds of other anti-Israel protesters. Israel is now unthinkingly condemned as a genocidal apartheid settler-colonialist state, indeed, the single most malevolent country in the world and the root of all evil.
New York Times Columnist Bret Stephens expressed it well in his Nov. 7 article. “Knowing who our friends aren’t isn’t pleasant, particularly after so many Jews have sought to be personal friends and political allies to people and movements that, as we grieved, turned their backs on us. But it’s also clarifying.”
Henry Srebrnik is a professor of political science at the University of Prince Edward Island in Charlottetown.

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Israel

Former Winnipegger Vivian Silver, at first thought to have been taken hostage, has now been confirmed dead

Jewish Post & News file photo

Former Winnipegger and well-known Israeli peace activist Vivian Silver has now been confirmed as having been killed during the massacre of Israelis and foreign nationals perpetrated by Hamas terrorists on October 7. Vivian, a resident of Kibbutz Be’eri was originally thought to be among the more than 1200 individuals who were taken hostage by Hamas.

To read the full story on the CBC website, go to https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/israel-gaza-vivian-silver-1.7027333

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