Against Court and Constitution: A Never-Before-Translated Speech by David Ben-Gurion

Israel famously has no constitution. It turns out that’s no accident but rather the will of its first prime minister, who explains his thinking here.

March 10, 2021 | David Ben-Gurion, Neil Rogachevsky
About the author: David Ben-Gurion was the first prime minister of Israel. Neil Rogachevsky teaches at the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought at Yeshiva University and writes a monthly column for Mosaic.

David Ben-Gurion in 1961. Gjon Mili/LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images.

“I don’t think it’s possible to delegate authority to the court to decide whether the laws are kosher or not.” These incendiary words were not uttered by a contemporary right-wing critic of the power of the Israeli Supreme Court. They were made, rather, by Israel’s founding father, first prime minister, final editor and ultimate author of Israel’s Declaration of Independence, and promoter of liberty and rights for all: David Ben-Gurion. And he spoke them not in off-the-cuff remarks to a journalist but in a prepared speech to the committee charged with drafting a constitution in Israel’s first Knesset.

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