I posted this on Facebook over the weekend but also wanted to share with our blog community as well:
For all the students and faculty with whom I’ve traveled to Israel over the years, I thought you’d be interested in the NYT Saturday profile of Justice Aharon Barak (linked here), explaining why protestors are in front of his house in response to the proposed judicial review changes in Israel and my recent visit with him. (And here is a picture of students with Justice and Judge Barak in their backyard in 2015)
Just to remind you, if you have not been following the news and the protests in Israel, proposed legislation to change how judges are appointed in Israel (through a committee in which the politicians are a minority) and to restrict judicial review (established by Justice Barak which is why he is often referred to as the Israeli John Marshall) have been met with hundreds of thousands of people marching in protest over the past months. The legislation is on hold for now but the future is unclear. Justice Barak has more recently become the target of counter-protestors who blame him for the current court make-up and the separation of powers that he established. (Since the executive branch and legislative branch are so closely tied, the judicial branch has served as often the only restraint on government action.)
I was in Israel last week and had the opportunity to visit with him and his lovely wife Elika—the photo below is of all the flowers that inundate their home.
The counter-protestors (marching in support of Justice Barak) leave him flowers in response to protests. Some of these protestors are downright horrific—calling Barak (a Holocaust survivor) a Nazi or, worse, wishing that the Nazis had succeeded. Some of these protestors are misguided (a favorite placard is the one calling on the Justice to retire—he’s been retired for 17 years!) As he himself noted, with his typical self-deprecating humor—there is no better way to make an old man relevant again than to be protesting at his home. Nonetheless, he remains optimistic and therefore, so do I.