An Israeli Scandal Involving Judicial Appointments Results from a Fundamentally Flawed System

Dominating Israeli headlines this week was the arrest of Effi Naveh, the head of the Israeli Bar Association, on suspicion of bartering judicial appointments for sex. In Israel, a nine-member panel—in which the head of the Bar Association sits ex officio—is responsible for the selection of all the countries’ judges. The panel’s other members are three sitting Supreme Court justices, another representative of the Bar Association, the justice minister, and three other Knesset members. Yitzḥak Ram argues that this system, intended to depoliticize the judicial system, in fact fosters corruption:

When such immense power is put into the hands of so very few, corruption becomes probable. . . . In democratic societies, [however], mechanisms are created to limit and monitor the government, to mitigate the concerns over potential corruption. One of these mechanisms is transparency. Sunlight, according to the former U.S. Supreme Court justice Louis Brandeis, is the best disinfectant. [But] the judicial-selection committee is the civilian body most shielded from the sunlight. Its hearings are closed and its protocols secret. In 2008, then-Justice [and now chief justice] Esther Ḥayut ruled that the judicial-selection committee was not a “public authority” under the Freedom of Information Law, and therefore was not bound by it. [Ḥayut also co-chairs the selection committee] . . .

The concentration of power in the hands of a small committee that operates behind a thick curtain is an invitation for corruption, nepotism, cronyism, and other underhanded dealings. . . . [Its] makeup gives the judges a built-in advantage: they constitute one-third of the committee; they don’t have to deal with a coalition or an opposition; and they vote as one. . . . Due to the “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” system, uniformity of thought has pervaded the Supreme Court, such that its monopoly over legal interpretation and principles has become almost entirely hegemonic. . . .

The system itself has to be changed: this pernicious committee has to be terminated. appointment power must be taken away from the judges, and judges should be appointed by elected officials in an open and transparent process, per the norm in Western democracies.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli politics, Supreme Court of Israel

The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7