The Legacy of Justice Aharon Barak: A Critical Review
Harvard International Law Journal Online, Vol. 48, pp. 83-92, 2007
10 Pages Posted: 14 Feb 2013
Date Written: April 30, 2007
This Article evaluates the legacy of Israel's Supreme Court former Chief Justice Aharon Barak with respect to the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. This Article challenges the perception (especially in the US, of both conservatives and progressives) that Barak was an activist, liberal, rights-vindicating judge who restrained the military and limited state power. I contextualize Barak’s legacy as internal to a framework of domination and subordination within which he, as a former judge in the Israeli judicial system, operated. Barak as a leading judge and as a Chief Justice did not only work within this framework but also has justified it, refined it, and represented it as a “diplomat-judge.” My emphasis will be less on what Barak has said and written, but rather on what he has done, the impact of his opinions on the victims he has left behind, and the alternative narratives he has so powerfully destroyed. The primary source of the distortion in discussing Barak’s legacy rests on the emphasis on his “liberal” rhetoric while at the same time ignoring the illiberal outcomes of his Supreme Court opinions. As will become apparent in the course of this article, Barak’s legacy is not liberal in any convincing way. The article will also highlight the totally ignored aspect of Barak’s work as a “diplomat-judge”: a judge who is the main representative of his state’s policies abroad.
Keywords: Israel, Supreme Court, Judicial Review, Occupation, Palestinian Territories, Diplomat Judge, Legitimation
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation