5/10/2010

Two Thoughts on Supreme Court Justices

Thought #1: The Brandeis students who are fighting to keep Ambassador Oren from delivering the commencement address on the grounds that, inter alia, "commencement has been hijacked to serve as part of a debate about Middle Eastern politics" might want to consider who the author of the following quote is (hint):
The Zionists seek to establish this home in Palestine because they are convinced that the undying longing of Jews for Palestine is a fact of deepest significance; that it is a manifestation in the struggle for existence by an ancient people which has established its right to live, a people whose three thousand years of civilization has produced a faith, culture and individuality which enable it to contribute largely in the future, as it has in the past, to the advance of civilization; and that it is not a right merely but a duty of the Jewish nationality to survive and develop. They believe that only in Palestine can Jewish life be fully protected from the forces of disintegration; that there alone can the Jewish spirit reach its full and natural development; and that by securing for those Jews who wish to settle there the opportunity to do so, not only those Jews, but all other Jews will be benefited, and that the long perplexing Jewish Problem will, at last, find solution.


Thought #2: Now that it looks like all members of the US Supreme Court will be either Catholic or Jewish, let's try a little thought experiment. Is it conceivable that the Israeli Supreme Court will ever have no secular Askenazim? Not that there's anything bad about appointing secular Ashkenazim to the court per se, but it took a long time for the US to mature to the point that it fully trusted non-WASPS to take on the responsibility of the judiciary. It has been less then a century since the appointment of the first Jew to the Court, less than 50 years since the appointment of the first black, less than 30 years since the appointment of the first woman, and less than 2 years since the appointment of the first Latino. By contrast, Israel traditionally has one religious, one Sephardic, and one Arab member - no more and no less. That's starting to change a bit now - with the appointment of Hendel, there are now two religious justices (Hendel and Rubenstein). One Sephardi (Levy) and one Arab (Joubran). That's 4 out of 15 that are not secular Ashkenazim. I wonder if Israeli civil society (and the judicial appointments process) ever matures enough for Arabs, Sephardim, and dosim to form a majority of the court (like they form a majority of the population).
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