Dozens of demonstrators gathered Monday morning outside of Israel’s High Court of Justice in Jerusalem to protest what they dubbed the “undemocratic actions” of the court.
Organized by Im Tirtzu, the demonstration was in response to March 25 recording of the High Court proceedings against former Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein. The recording was leaked Sunday night. It revealed the High Court along with Knesset legal advisor Eyal Yinon were discussing ways to overrule the Knesset by transferring some of Edelstein’s powers to Labor head Amir Peretz, the most senior member of Knesset, in what they dubbed a “surgical operation.”
The demonstrators insisted that the High Court crossed a red line by unlawfully interfering in the Knesset’s operation and giving an order in direct contravention to the Basic Law: The Knesset.
Due to the current health crisis, the organizers stated that the demonstration was coordinated with the police and adhered to the Health Ministry’s regulations. Anyone who acted in violation of the regulations was asked to leave, the organizers said.
The demonstrators chanted, “Stop stealing our democracy,” and “this isn’t Iran,” held a symbolic prayer for Israel’s democracy, and called on the courts to stop their “judicial piracy.”
Acclaimed legal scholar and former United States federal judge, Richard Posner, was the first to coin the term “judicial pirate,” a label he assigned to former Israeli Supreme Court president Aharon Barak, the architect of Israel’s “constitutional revolution” which stood the High Court of Justice at the top of the pyramid of what were supposed to be the three equal branches of government.
Responding on Twitter to the leaked recording, former Justice Minister Haim Ramon (Kadima) called it an “outrageous display in which the judiciary tramples the legislature and breaks anew the record of judicial activism.”
Orly Lev, a social activist who participated in the demonstration, said: “The judges have forgotten that they aren’t elected officials. Why should we even vote if the judges are the ones who end of making the decisions and not our elected officials?”
Im Tirtzu CEO Matan Peleg said: “The High Court justices have turned themselves into all-powerful rulers who can act however and whenever they please, and anyone who holds democracy dear must speak out against this.”
“Time after time,” Peleg continued, “the High Court acts like a political actor with utter disregard to Israeli democracy, which endangers the future of the State of Israel. The time has come for the judges to end their judicial dictatorship and realize that this is a democracy, not Iran.”