Women Now Majority in Israeli Justice System

Jerusalem, Jan. 8 – The appointment over the weekend of new judges to Israel’s Supreme Court included  Daphne Barak-Erez, a rising legal star who will be the youngest jurist on the top bench.

Barak-Erez, the dean of Tel Aviv University’s law faculty, was among the four nominees. Her background includes military service in the armed forces Military Prosecutors office, and a reputation for a strong stance against corruption.

More than half of the 646 judges serving on the benches of Israeli courts are women, and Israel’s Labor Court is also presided over by a woman, Nili Arad, with women comprising just over 60 percent of the labor court judges.  Israeli female judges vastly outnumber their American counterparts, where in the U.S. roughly one fifth of federal judges are women, while at the state level that number goes up to only 26 percent.

Israel’s Supreme Court matches the United States in that one third of the judges are women, including the top judge, Dorit Benisch.  Israel first appointed a woman, Miriam Ben Porat, to its top legal body in 1977, four years before Sandra Day O'Connor became America’s first female member of the Supreme Court.

On the other side of the bench, women comprise almost half the 49,000 lawyers in Israel, with women holding the posts of legal advisors in the Ministry of Defense, the Police force, the Histadrut National Trade Union and the Civil Service Commission.

The Israel Bar Association says it “supports and promotes the integration of women working in the profession,” and is happy with the current situation where there is an almost total balance between the numbers of male and female attorneys.


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