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In unprecedented decision, Israel’s Supreme Court strikes down law limiting its power

(JTA) — The Israeli Supreme Court has struck down a law that limited its power, an unprecedented decision nixing the one piece of legislation passed under the right-wing government’s effort to weaken the judiciary.

The 8-7 decision published on Monday returns the fight over Israel’s court system to the fore after a months-long pause due to Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza. Prior to Hamas’ Oct. 7 invasion of Israel, debate over the government’s judicial overhaul had riven the country, leading to massive protests and civil disobedience over what opponents said was a bid to undermine Israeli democracy.

Amid that civil strife, the government passed a law in July removing the Supreme Court’s ability to strike down government decisions it deems “unreasonable,” a power used in the past as a check on executive power. The law was an amendment to one of Israel’s quasi-constitutional Basic Laws, and it passed without any votes from the opposition. The court heard challenges to it later in the year.

Monday’s decision marks the first time for the court ever to strike down a Basic Law. While the specific law was struck down by a narrow majority, 13 of 15 justices wrote that the court does possess the authority to strike down Basic Laws. In the decision, former Chief Justice Esther Hayut wrote that the law was “extreme and irregular” and said it “departs from the foundational authorities of the Knesset, and therefore it must be struck down.”

The decision moves Israel closer to a potential constitutional crisis, a scenario in which a country experiences an unsolvable dispute between two branches of government, at a delicate moment. Ahead of the court decision, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had not said explicitly that his government would obey a court ruling striking down the law.

Ministers in his government immediately criticized the decision, as well as the court’s decision to publish it during wartime. Netanyahu’s Likud Party called the decision “unfortunate” and said the court should not have ruled on an issue “at the heart of the societal disagreement in Israel when IDF soldiers from right and left are fighting and endangering their lives,” according to the Times of Israel.

“The decision of the Supreme Court judges to publish the court decision during wartime is the opposite of the spirit of unity needed these days for the success of our soldiers on the front,” wrote Justice Minister Yariv Levin, an architect of the judicial overhaul effort, on Facebook. “In practice, the judges have taken all of the authorities, which in a democratic regime are split in a balanced way between three branches of government.”

Israeli politicians on the center and left celebrated the decision. Yair Lapid, the leader of Israel’s parliamentary opposition, wrote on X, “The source of the state of Israel’s strength, the basis of Israeli power, is the fact that we are a Jewish, democratic, liberal, law-abiding state. The Supreme Court faithfully performed its duty today to protect Israel’s citizens.”

On X, Benny Gantz, the leader of the centrist National Unity Party and a member of an emergency war cabinet, wrote that “the court decision must be respected.”


The post In unprecedented decision, Israel’s Supreme Court strikes down law limiting its power appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Tribute: Rabbi Dovid Schochet, 91, a pioneer in building Toronto’s observant community

The Jewish community in Toronto lost a towering leader when Rabbi Dovid Schochet, the president of the Toronto Rabbinical Council and the senior rabbi of the Chabad community in Toronto, passed away at the age of 91 on Jan. 28. He was born in 1932 in Basel, Switzerland, the second of 10 children, to Rabbi […]

The post Tribute: Rabbi Dovid Schochet, 91, a pioneer in building Toronto’s observant community appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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Attacker in 2021 Antisemitic Assault in New York Sentenced to Three Years in State Prison

Joseph Borgen, victim of an antisemitic attack, addressing a rally in Long Island. Photo: courtesy

The final criminal proceeding for the case of Joseph “Joey” Borgen, a Jewish man whom a gang of antisemites mauled and pepper-sprayed in broad daylight during protests and counter-protests over Israel’s 2021 war with Hamas, resulted in another conviction Wednesday.

Mohammed Said Othman, 29, was sentenced to three years in state prison, according to a press release issued by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg.

Borgen, who is Jewish, was wearing a kippah while walking in Manhattan when Said Othman, along with several other men, ambushed him without being provoked. They shouted antisemitic slurs at the pro-Israel advocate, who suffered a concussion, wrist injury, black eye, and bruises all over his body.

Since then, three other sentences have been handed down in the Borgen case. Waseem Awawdeh, who continuously struck Borgen with a crutch while allegedly joining the others in shouting antisemitic epithets at him, pleaded guilty to attempted assault as a hate crime and received 18 months in jail, as part of a plea bargain negotiated with Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Jonathon Junig.

In November, Mahmoud Musa received seven years in prison for his role in the attack. In December, Mohammed Othman was sentenced to five-and-a-half years in state prison and five additional years of post-release supervision.

As seen in footage of the incident, Othman kicked and repeatedly struck Borgen in the face while sitting on his chest to weigh him down. In court, he pleaded guilty to gang assault and third-degree hate crime assault.

“These defendants violently targeted and assaulted another individual simply because he is Jewish,” District Attorney Bragg said in a statement. “While this office always supports the right to peacefully protest and engage in open dialogue, these multi-year prison sentences makes clear that physically attacking someone because of their religion is never acceptable. I thank our hate crimes unit for its diligent work in this case.”

Throughout the criminal proceedings in his case, Joey Borgen called on New York City lawmakers to do more to eradicate antisemitic hatred in the five boroughs.

In December, he told The Algemeiner that while he is pleased with the outcome of the case he is worried that the group with which his attackers were allegedly affiliated, the extreme anti-Zionist organization Within Our Lifetime (WOL), is still engaging in antisemitic activity that could lead to more hate crimes.

Since Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel, WOL has posted (and deleted) a map, titled “Know Your Enemies,” showing the addresses of Jewish organizations in New York City, and staged numerous disruptive protests. The group is led by Nerdeen Kiswani, a former City University of New York (CUNY) student who once threatened to set on fire someone’s Israel Defense Forces (IDF) hoodie while he was wearing it.

“They’re still causing havoc; they’re forcing Jewish attendees of a fundraiser to speak at the backdoor of a police van, and they’re bombarding the mother of a hostage with horrible antisemitic chants,” Borgen said. “While I’m happy that I got a positive result in my case, I’m still disturbed that this same group is still going around causing issues for Jewish people, attacking restaurants, and putting people in danger.”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

The post Attacker in 2021 Antisemitic Assault in New York Sentenced to Three Years in State Prison first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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See Mark Breslin live in conversation with Ralph Benmergui

A special live taping of our podcast ‘Not That Kind of Rabbi’.

The post See Mark Breslin live in conversation with Ralph Benmergui appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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