February 22, 2019

The Importance of Transparency

“After news that a judge allegedly provided sexual favors to Bar Association president Efi Nave in exchange for her appointment, several politicians said in their responses that the Judicial Selection Committee needed to be the “Holy of Holies.”

While they were clearly calling for the committee to have integrity and avoid outside considerations, the use of that metaphor is very revealing.

The Holy of Holies was, as its name implies, the most sacred part of the Temple in Jerusalem. It was closed off to the public. The only person who could enter was the high priest, who could only do so once a year.

The judicial branch of Israel’s government is often treated as though it is above all others, as though Israel is still a kritocracy like in the biblical Book of Judges, rather than a democracy, with three branches of government and in which the executive and legislature are equal to the judiciary.

Additionally, this so-called Holy of Holies in the judicial branch is a closed circle that only allows nine people inside – the justice minister, another minister, two MKs, three judges and two representatives of the Bar Association.

The Judicial Selection Committee does not release protocols. We do not know what considerations are behind the appointment of our judges. Some politicians on the committee have given a glimpse into their thinking via interviews, but rarely about specific candidates.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and others on the Right have long criticized the judiciary for being a self-selecting guild: judges led the way, indicating judges they want, and the rest of the members authorized whatever was put before them. Shaked made great strides in changing that situation, bringing Nave onto her side so that more varied – and more conservative – views characterized the 334 judges appointed during her tenure.”

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