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US welcome former President of the Israeli Supreme Court
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Friday 27th April 2018

Last week, The United Synagogue hosted two distinguished events with the former President of the Israeli Supreme Court, Justice Miriam Naor.

Her first engagement was a highly successful business breakfast hosted by prestigious law firm Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, Justice Naor gave a briefing regarding the current tension between the Knesset and the Supreme Court in relation to the handling of illegal immigrants and how this may develop. Following the briefing, questions were taken from the floor, chaired by Jonathan Turner from UK Lawyers for Israel.  Issues covered included the extent to which members of the Supreme Court are independent from political parties, how the Supreme Court works with the various batei din, and what Justice Naor’s plans are for retirement. With regard to the retirement question, she replied that it was like being reborn and that initially she and her husband have plans to travel after which she intends to write two books; one to assist Judges on how to make their decisions and the other a children’s detective story. The event was sponsored by Travelink.

For the second event the United Synagogue had the honour of hosting an evening with two judicial heavyweights at the Supreme Court in Westminster.  The event was sponsored by Assersons Law Office. Following a wine reception, guests entered the main courtroom to hear from The Right Hon the Baroness Hale of Richmond DBE, President of The Supreme Court and Justice Naor.

The evening was chaired by Trevor Asserson who introduced the evening’s topic of the role of the judiciary in protecting democracy and human rights. Lady Hale spoke about the interplay of the relationships between the government, parliament and the people and at what point should the judiciary intervene to say that human rights are being infringed. Justice Naor spoke about this relationship through the prism of the current crisis between the Israeli Government and the Supreme Court on what the process should be with regards to illegal immigrants in Israel.

Following the presentations there was a question and answer session that covered how judges are selected in both countries, whether the changes to the role of the Lord Chancellor in the UK is a step forward and if there is added pressure for Israeli judges from the religious parties. The final question was how does one balance human rights and national security especially with terror threats and conflict, to which the reply was that this was the great challenge facing all democracies. Addressing this point, the closing remark from Trevor Asserson was to quote another former President of the Israeli  Supreme Court, Aaron Barak, who said that in the midst of war the law must not be silent.