Over 1,600 new immigrants join call for government to halt judicial overhaul


More than 1,600 new immigrants to Israel signed an open letter published Monday urging the government to halt its judicial reform legislation.

“We write to you as Olim and Olot, loyal Israeli citizens by choice, who made an active choice to leave everything we knew in our countries of origin and see our destinies for the fate of this country,” said the letter to Absorption The Minister reads Ofir Sofer, Minister of Diaspora Affairs Amichai Chikli and the leadership of the Jewish Agency.

“We are writing this letter with heavy hearts. The Zionist vision that inspired us – and all the Olim that came before us – has been captured by extremists who threaten the fabric of this country as a Jewish and Democratic state.”

Among those who signed the letter were new immigrants of various Jewish backgrounds from the US, the UK, several European countries, South Africa, Australia, Russia, Ukraine and South America, according to a press release from the organizers.

The new immigrants accused that there is a risk of judicial reform being promoted by the coalition government turning Israel into a tyrannyy of the majority.

“Coming from Jewish communities around the world, we know what it’s like to feel prejudice and discrimination as a minority group. For us, it is unimaginable that the State of Israel, where Jews are the majority, could so threaten the fundamental rights of women and minority groups including Arabs, members of the LGBTQ community, and others,” the new immigrants insisted.

The signatories said they were adding “our voices to the alarm already expressed by Israeli legal, financial and economic experts, high-tech leaders, women’s groups, decorated military officers, and our foreign allies.”

The legislation currently being advanced through the Knesset would give the coalition government control over the selection of all judges in Israel; prohibiting the High Court of Justice from reviewing Israel’s quasi-constitutional Basic Laws; severely restrict the High Court’s ability to strike down laws deemed incompatible with those Constitutions; and allow the Knesset to pass laws that are immune from judicial review by the High Court.

Critics say it marks a revolutionary change in Israeli governance, essentially removing the ability of the High Court to act as a check on the Knesset and the governing coalition. This could move Israel from a liberal democracy to another system of governance, according to experts.

Supporters say the judiciary has gained far too much power over the past two decades and the government’s proposals will restore the balance of power between the branches of government.

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