Bid to stifle court akin to those of pre-Nazi Germany, 98 retired judges say

Ex-jurists from all levels sign open letter protesting reported efforts by PM to pass legislation allowing Knesset to override High Court veto, as he seeks to safeguard immunity

Alfred Witkon

Jacob Magid writes in Times of Israel

Ninety-eight retired judges signed an open letter on Thursday that compared the current environment, in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is reportedly seeking to drastically curb the powers of Israel’s High Court of Justice, to the situation in pre-Nazi Germany.

Referencing the words of the late German-born Israeli chief justice Alfred Witkon, the ex-jurists said that “there have been throughout history countries with democratic regimes where movements were established that used the rights granted to them in order to carry out destructive activities to protect themselves.”

The exact quote given by Witkon in a 1964 High Court ruling stated, “more than once in history have fascist and totalitarian movements risen to establishment in  proper democratic regimes, where they used all the rights of freedom of speech, press and association granted by the state in order to carry out destructive activities to protect themselves. Anyone who saw this during the days of the Weimar Republic [the German government from 1918-1933] will not forget this lesson.”

The list of dozens of retired judges included ex-Supreme Court justices Elyakim Rubinstein and Ayala Procaccia as well as the former presidents of the National Labor Court and presidents of district courts.

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