"The absence of Palestinians from this segment is also unacceptable due to the impact that Israel’s judicial reforms could have on its control over the occupied Palestinian territories, including the threats of settlement expansion and annexation. New Israeli annexation claims were made only hours before the announcement of judicial reform. In fact, it is a widely held view that annexation and judicial reform are inextricably bound."
February 14, 2023
Saša Petricic, Asia Correspondent, CBC News
Adrienne Arsenault, Host, CBC’s The National
Nicole Brewster, Senior Producer, CBC’s The National
Dear Saša Petricic,
I’m writing to you on behalf of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME, https://www.cjpme.org) to express our concerns regarding a video segment titled “Tens of thousands protest Israel’s plans for supreme court,” which was aired by CBC’s The National on February 13, 2023.
Before anything else, we want to thank you for committing coverage to this important issue. The future of Israel’s judicial institutions should be of interest to all Canadians concerned about human rights. Your news segment sheds light on the recent protests against the new far-right government’s plan to increase control over Israel’s supreme court and the confrontations which took place in Israel’s Knesset or parliament. However, I would like to make you aware of several problems with your video segment.
Above all, it is highly problematic that a segment on the erosion of Israel’s democratic institutions never once mentions the Palestinians, who are under Israeli control yet largely excluded from its democracy. Of the 6.8 million Palestinians under Israeli rule, only a small minority of them (1.6 million) hold Israeli citizenship and have the right to vote in national elections (albeit with a second-class status and significant restrictions). The remaining 5.2 million Palestinians under Israeli military occupation in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza, have no right to vote for the government that rules them.[i] In fact, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, UN experts, and Israeli and Palestinian human rights groups like B’Tselem, have argued that is Israel is not a democracy, but should properly be defined as a regime of apartheid.[ii]
We insist that any discussion of Israel’s “democracy” must come with a qualification that it is not extended to everyone under Israeli rule, and should note the findings of apartheid from the human rights sector.
The absence of Palestinians from this segment is also unacceptable due to the impact that Israel’s judicial reforms could have on its control over the occupied Palestinian territories, including the threats of settlement expansion and annexation. New Israeli annexation claims were made only hours before the announcement of judicial reform. In fact, it is a widely held view that annexation and judicial reform are inextricably bound. Despite the fact that Israel’s Supreme Court is widely seen by Palestinians and Israeli human rights groups as a whitewashing mechanism for Israel’s crimes against Palestinians,[iii] it has nonetheless provided some limited restraints on Israel’s settlement enterprise, as recently reported by the New York Times.[iv] The engineer of the current reforms, Israeli Justice Minister Yariv Levin, has publicly supported reforming the courts in order to expand annexation efforts.[v]
We expect that this critical aspect of Israel’s judicial reforms, and the broader impact on Palestinians generally, will be touched on in future reporting.
Thank you for making these changes.
Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East
[i] Human Rights Watch, “A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and persecution,” April 27, 2021, https://www.hrw.org/report/2021/04/27/threshold-crossed/israeli-authorities-and-crimes-apartheid- and-persecution
[ii] Amnesty International, “Israel’s Apartheid against Palestinians: Cruel system of domination and crime against humanity,” February 1, 2022, https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde15/5141/2022/en/; Human Rights Watch, “A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and persecution,” April 27, 2021, https://www.hrw.org/report/2021/04/27/threshold-crossed/israeli-authorities-and-crimes-apartheid- and-persecution; B’Tselem, “A regime of Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea: This is apartheid,” January 12, 2021, https://www.btselem.org/publications/fulltext/202101_this_is_apartheid; United Nations Human Rights Office, “Israel’s 55-year occupation of Palestinian Territory is apartheid – UN human rights expert,” March 25, 2022, https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2022/03/israels-55-year-occupation-palestinian-territory-apartheid-un-human-rights
[iii] B’Tselem, “The Supreme Court of the Occupation,” February 25, 2020, https://www.btselem.org/supreme_court_of_occupation
[iv] Kingsley, P., & Kershner, I. (2023, February 13). Netanyahu's judicial overhaul sparks huge protests in Israel. The New York Times. Retrieved February 14, 2023, from https://www.nytimes.com/2023/02/13/world/middleeast/israel-judicial-protests-netanyahu.html
[v] Omer-Man, M. (2023, February 13). Why Israel's 'democratic' opposition is doomed. DAWN. Retrieved February 14, 2023, from https://dawnmena.org/why-israels-democratic-opposition-is-doomed/