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Courting Controversy: The Challenges Facing Israel's Supreme Court

Former Justice and President of the Supreme Court Dorit Beinisch and legal scholars Prof. Yuval Shany and Dr. Manal Totry-Jubran will discuss the various challenges facing the Israeli Supreme Court and how recent laws — particularly the 2018 Jewish Nation-State Basic Law — have impacted the Court's rulings. Former Israeli president Reuven Rivlin will deliver opening remarks.

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About the Program

Israel's Supreme Court has come under frequent attack in recent years. Right-wing Israelis decry the Supreme Court’s liberalism and judicial activism, left-wing Israelis criticize the timidity of some of the Supreme Court’s decisions and fear that they signify erosion in its authority and power, and ultra-Orthodox Israelis denounce the Supreme Court’s reliance on secular rather than religious laws. According to the Israel Democracy Institute's latest Israel Democracy Index, public trust in the Supreme Court has reached an all-time low of 41%.

This special event is co-hosted by the UCLA Y&S Nazarian Center for Israel Studies and the Jerusalem-based Israel Democracy Institute, a non-partisan center of research and action dedicated to strengthening the foundations of Israeli democracy. This event is co-sponsored by the UCLA International & Comparative Law Program.

About the Speakers

Reuven Rivlin (opening remarks) served as the 10th president of Israel between 2014 and 2021. He previously served as Israel's Minister of Communications, as well as Speaker of the Knesset. During his time in the Knesset, he was a member of the Committee for Appointing Judges. A lawyer by profession, he holds an L.L.B. degree from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In September 2021, President Rivlin joined the Israel Democracy Institute as Honorary Chair.

Dorit Beinisch was the 9th President of the Supreme Court of Israel. She received her LL.B and LL.M. from Hebrew University in Jerusalem and was admitted to the Israeli Bar in 1967. In 1995, after serving as Israel's first female State Attorney, she was appointed Justice of the Israeli Supreme Court and would later become the first woman to be President of the highest court in Israel. As a justice, Beinisch ruled in numerous cases relating to minority rights, terrorism, national security, and issues of human rights in both Israeli and international law. With her decisions, she made significant progress in protecting the rights of women, children and the underrepresented in a manner that has led many to draw comparisons between her and Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

Yuval Shany is the Hersch Lauterpacht Chair in International Law and former Dean of the Law Faculty of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He was a member of the UN Human Rights Committee from 2013 to 2020, where he also served as the Chair of the Committee. He is a senior research fellow at the Israel Democracy Institute, the Chair of the Hebrew University’s Minerva Center for Human Rights’ academic committee, co-director of the Faculty’s International Law Forum and transitional justice program, and the head of the CyberLaw program of the Hebrew University CyberSecurity Research Center. Shany is the recipient of the 2021 Gorni Prize for academic contribution to Israeli public law.

Manal Totry-Jubran is a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Law at Bar Ilan University. She received her Ph.D. and L.L.M. from Tel Aviv University. In 2015, she was awarded the Ma’of scholarship for outstanding Arab students from The Council for Higher Education. In 2018, she was selected by Calcalist newspaper as one of ten Young Promising Arab leaders in the Arab Society. She was awarded the Gorni Prize in 2019 by the Israeli Association of Public Law for Excellent Young Researcher in Public Law.

Dov Waxman (moderator) is the director of the Y&S Nazarian Center for Israel Studies and The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation Chair of Israel Studies at UCLA. Previously, he was a professor of political science, international affairs, and Israel Studies, and the Stotsky Professor of Jewish Historical and Cultural Studies at Northeastern University. His latest book is The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: What Everyone Needs to Know (2019).


DISCLAIMER: The views or opinions of our guest speakers and the content of their presentations do not necessarily reflect the views of the UCLA Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for Israel Studies. Hosting speakers does not constitute an endorsement of the speaker's views or opinions.

Sponsor(s): Y&S Nazarian Center for Israel Studies, International & Comparative Law Program (ICLP) at UCLA School of Law, Israel Democracy Institute