Democracy in real danger

Op-ed: Laws aiming to weaken Supreme Court's power might change State of Israel's character

Everyone is talking about democracy, but not everyone is interested in real democracy. There are tyrants in the world who call their country a democracy – but destroy the freedom of expression and violate equality between citizens. Despite external characteristics like elections which are open to all citizens and the existence of a parliament, such a country is not a democracy.


There are those who think that a democracy is a regime in which elections are held every four years, and then whoever wins the majority of votes can pass any law with no supervision. That is not a democracy either.


Alongside the right to elect and be elected, a democracy has other essential foundations: Equality between all citizens, the rule of law, the right to turn to a court of law and receive justice, real control on governmental institutions, freedom to express oneself, to assemble and to protest, and maintaining basic rights for any person, whoever he may be.


The Knesset has members who are irritated by these principles. Equality between all citizens? Even the Arab ones? Even the women? And what if we enact a law which contradicts these principles? Who will get in our way? After all, we've been through primary elections, we are the sovereigns.


This is where the Supreme Court comes into the picture. In its role as the High Court of Justice, it limits the authorities of the government and the Knesset. You enacted a law permitting the imprisonment of people for three years without trial just because their skin is black and they entered Israel illegally? The law will be annulled.


So what do these power-hungry lawmakers do? Try to limit the High Court's power. Politicians want to turn the Supreme Court too – and the entire legal system – into political hubs which are subject to the Knesset. So that judges will run around the Knesset halls seeking a promotion. So that the Knesset will be able to enact laws violating human rights. So that there will be laws determining that there are certain citizens who are worth more.


These are, allegedly, just technical suggestions. Small administrative changes. But every such amendment might change the State's character. If we want to preserve democracy in Israel, we must not open this gate.



פרסום ראשון: 10.21.13, 21:26
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