The inaugural episode of the 56th season of the esteemed investigative program, "60 Minutes," which aired on Sunday night, delved into the realm of Israeli judicial reform and the consequent protests that erupted. As an integral component of this episode, an interview with Justice Minister Yariv Levin was featured, during which he articulated his perspective on the role of the Supreme Court vis-à-vis the government and the will of the people. Levin asserted, "The Supreme Court is above the government and the will of the people; I want to balance that."
The program commenced with a compelling observation by Lesley Stahl, a seasoned reporter for the show. She began by stating, "You think America is the only democracy in the world with problems? Look at what is happening in Israel." Stahl embarked on a journey to Israel, where she closely followed the demonstrations in Kaplan and engaged in discussions with several of its leaders and government officials, including Minister Yariv Levin. For the 5-12 million dedicated American viewers who tune in each week, the episode served as a comprehensive overview of the current political tumult in Israel.
Throughout the episode, the leaders of the judicial reform movement were portrayed in an unflattering light. National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir was depicted as an individual "with many convictions, including supporting terrorism against Arabs." Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich was characterized as a "fascist homophobe," despite the fact that his own brother is openly gay and supported his political endeavors. Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is embroiled in three separate corruption trials, also faced scrutiny.
“The situation in Israel is that the Supreme Court is above the government, is above the parliament, is even above the will of the people. What I want to do is to balance it,” says Israeli Justice Minister Yariv Levin. https://t.co/jrxEA1c3lg pic.twitter.com/RTzjMG5D2f— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) September 18, 2023
Minister Levin, undeterred by the spotlight, willingly engaged with the cameras. During the interview, he emphasized the importance of addressing the situation where an elected government, commanding a parliamentary majority, finds itself unable to enact legislation due to protests and opposition. He argued, "No democracy can accept a situation where its elected government, with a majority in parliament, cannot pass any bill and do nothing because there are protests, because there are people who oppose it."
Levin contended that in Israel, the Supreme Court occupies a position above the government, parliament, and even the will of the people. His aim was clear: to restore equilibrium. In the article, Stahl quoted Levin as saying, "The court is an elitist fortress that too often nullifies legislators elected by the people."
When questioned about his participation in what was characterized as the most right-wing government in Israeli history, Levin expressed his pride in being part of such an administration, asserting that it aligned with the desires of the Israeli populace. In response to concerns about certain government ministers making openly prejudiced statements, he assured, "I can assure you that the vast majority of the members of parliament who support this government stand firmly behind democratic and liberal principles."
בראיון ל-CBS נשאל יריב לוין האם זה נכון שאם החוקים שלו יעברו הממשלה תוכל להתגבר על פסיקות בית המשפט.— בודקים (@bodkim2022) September 18, 2023
יריב לוין הכחיש ואמר שזה לא מה שהוא מציע.
העובדות: אחד החוקים שיריב לוין קידם(ועבר בקריאה ראשונה), הוא פסקת ההתגברות שתאפשר לממשלה באמצעות הרוב בכנסת להתגבר על פסיקות בית המשפט. pic.twitter.com/2Jp6blKIZB
Levin was also confronted with the challenge of IDF reservists threatening to abstain from volunteer duties due to the proposed reforms. In response, he posed a fundamental question: "What is the price of democracy? What do you suggest I do? Should we tell the citizens of Israel, 'Okay, don't go vote. No It is not necessary to hold elections; we will simply go to those former militarists and ask them what we are allowed to do.’"