Defending Democracy on Israel’s Supreme Court

Stand for Israel  |  May 11, 2021

Yoel Zussman of Israel Supreme Court with PM Golda Meir, 1969
Yoel Zussman of Israel Supreme Court with PM Golda Meir, 1969

Born to a Jewish family in Krakow, Israeli Supreme Court Justice Yoel Zussman received his legal training in Europe before making aliyah (immigrating to the Holy Land) before World War II broke out. Once there, Zussman received his legal certification and served as Chief Prosecutor for the IDF.

In 1951, the Israeli government appointed Zussman to the nation’s Supreme Court, a post he held until his retirement in 1980. During this time, one of Zussman’s most important decisions defined the Jewish state as a “self-defending democracy.” Zussman wrote:

Just as an Individual is not bound to agree to being killed, neither is a state obliged to consent to being annihilated and erased from the map… For myself, as far as Israel is concerned, I am prepared to confine myself to “self-defending democracy,” and tools for defending the existence of the state are at hand…

In 1976, Zussman began to serve as President of the Supreme Court, which he did until he retired. Yoel Zussman died two years later, in 1982, having served Israel and her people during a lifetime of fighting for justice and working to defend the Jewish state he immigrated to and called home. May his memory be a blessing.

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