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Reform supporters rally outside former Supreme Court chief’s home

The “freedom march” concluded outside the Tel Aviv home of Aharon Barak, whose “Constitutional Revolution” the government is seeking to moderate.

Israelis show support for judicial reform in Tel Aviv on March 30, 2023. Photo by Erik Marmor/Flash90.
Israelis show support for judicial reform in Tel Aviv on March 30, 2023. Photo by Erik Marmor/Flash90.

Hundreds of Israelis joined a “freedom march” on Wednesday night that concluded with a demonstration outside the Tel Aviv home of former Supreme Court President Aharon Barak.

Protesters held placards calling the court a “dictatorship” and declaring it was “harming national security.”

“The time has come for Aharon Barak to understand that he must not trample on the people’s decision. The people chose judicial reform, and this is what needs to happen,” said Matan Jerafi of the Im Tirtzu NGO, which organized the event.

Barak, who served as Supreme Court president between 1995 and 2006, is widely considered responsible for the “Constitutional Revolution” that the current government seeks to correct with its reform initiative.

Barak transformed the institution into an “activist court,” meaning it does not wait for issues to be brought before it, but rather the court makes policy according to its own views.

According to Barak, “everything is justiciable,” meaning that no law, policy or commercial dealing is out of the purview of the court. In cases in which there are no laws or policies, the court can order the parliament to pass a law on a particular issue within a court-stipulated time limit or can order the government to carry out a specific policy.

Barak held that the State of Israel had been transformed from a parliamentary democracy to a constitutional parliamentary democracy, in that its Basic Laws are to be interpreted as its constitution.

The demonstration came hours after Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid announced that he plans to boycott the traditional torch-lighting ceremony marking the transition from Memorial Day to Independence Day celebrations.

Israel on April 25-26 will mark its 75th anniversary.

In a message to Transportation Minister Miri Regev, the minister responsible for the ceremony, Lapid accused the  government of “dismantling democracy.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused his political opponent of “planting the seeds of disaster” by encouraging a public rebellion against a democratically-elected government.

On March 30, supporters of judicial reform—about 30,000 by some estimates—rallied in Tel Aviv, with photos and videos on social media depicting masses of people and seas of Israeli flags.

Reform supporters plan to hold a “Million-person Protest” outside the Knesset in Jerusalem on April 27, in a show of strength and support for the government’s aim to restore checks and balances on the court.

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