Israeli courts are heading down a dangerous path. Canada can teach them a lesson

The Supreme Court of Israel covered in snow. (Credit: Israel Government Press Office)

Over 110,000 protestors packed Tel Aviv’s city centre this week, in one of the country’s largest anti-government protests in the past decade. They were rallying against the newly elected, right-wing government’s proposals to overhaul the Israeli judicial system. The reforms, introduced by Justice Minister Yariv Levin, could shift a significant amount of power from the courts to the legislature and preclude any law passed by the Knesset from being challenged in Israel’s High Court. These changes are designed, according to Levin, to rein in an activist court that for too long has subverted the democratic will of the Israeli electorate. 

Some say shifting more power to elected representatives clearly enhances Israel’s democratic character. Others argue that these changes would spell the end of the inalienable rights underpinning Zionism and the idea of Israel as a modern, liberal democracy. 

On this episode of The CJN’s weekly current affairs podcast Bonjour Chai, we unpack all this with Bryan Schwartz, a prominent lawyer and law professor at the University of Manitoba Law School. He has argued cases before the Supreme Court of Canada and has taught Canadian and Israeli law to students at the Hebrew University in Israel. 

Later in the show, Avi and Phoebe discuss an interview with Taffy Brodesser-Akner, the creator of the 2022 hit TV show Fleischman Is in Trouble, and based on her 2019 novel of the same name. To the surprise of some readers, Brodesser-Akner said that she doesn’t actually see the work as particularly Jewish, despite the clear Jewishness of the setting and main characters. This leads our hosts to dig into what makes a TV show Jewish at all? Is any show with Jewish characters a Jewish show—or is there more to it?

What we talked about:


Bonjour Chai is hosted by Avi Finegold and Phoebe Maltz Bovy. Zachary Kauffman is the producer and editor. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Socalled. The show is a co-production from The Jewish Learning Lab and The CJN, and is distributed by The CJN Podcast Network. To learn how to support the show by subscribing to this podcast, please watch this video.