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Israel’s Supreme Court Strikes Down Disputed Law That Limited Court Oversight

President of the Supreme Court of Israel Esther Hayut and all 15 justices assemble to hear petitions against the reasonableness standard law in the High Court in Jerusalem, on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2023. Photo: DEBBIE HILL/Pool via REUTERS

Israel‘s Supreme Court on Monday struck down a highly disputed law passed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government that rolled back some of the high court’s power and sparked months of nationwide protests.

The law was part of a broader judicial overhaul proposed by Netanyahu and his coalition which caused a deep rift in Israel.

Monday’s court decision could test the cohesion of an emergency government formed to manage the war against Hamas, which includes proponents like Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and critics of the judicial overhaul such as centrist Benny Gantz and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

Smotrich dismissed the decision as “extreme and divisive,” echoing the bitter divisions that marked Israeli politics in the months before the deadly Hamas rampage through southern Israel on Oct. 7.

The new legislation brought before the court had removed one, but not all, of the tools the Supreme Court has for quashing government and ministers’ decisions. It took away the court’s ability to void such decisions that it deemed “unreasonable.”

Twelve of 15 justices ruled that it was within the court’s parameters to strike down quasi-constitutional “basic laws.” A smaller majority of eight ruled to nullify this specific basic law, which the court said “causes severe and unprecedented harm to the core characteristics of Israel as a democratic state.”

Some Israeli officials have acknowledged that the internal divisions caused by the judicial overhaul — which seeped into the military and prompted Netanyahu to temporarily fire Gallant, who had called to halt the reforms — may have factored into Hamas’ decision to carry out its Oct. 7 killing spree.

Netanyahu’s Likud party said the Supreme Court’s decision was unfortunate and that it opposed “the will of the people for unity, especially during wartime.” It did not discuss any possible steps it might take in its brief statement.

Yair Lapid, opposition chair and a former prime minister, praised the court, whose decision he said “seals a tough year of dispute that tore us apart from the inside and led to the most terrible disaster in our history.”

The Supreme Court, according to its summary of the case, said the government in passing the amendment to the basic law “completely revoked the possibility of carrying out judicial review of the reasonableness of decisions made by the government, the prime minister, and the ministers.”

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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.

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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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