History and Government of Israel

Our first day in Israel was sightseeing around old Jerusalem. On our second day, we did a mixture of history and current affairs, thanks to our hosts, Young Likud.

First up we went to The Greats of the Nation on Mount Herzl. Theodor Herzl was the founder of modern Zionism, and seen as the seer of the State of Israel even though he died in 1904.

This is the memorial to Herzl, whose remains were moved to Israel in 1949.


On the tomb on Yitzmak Rabin, the Israeli Prime Minister who struck peace with with the PLO through the Oslo Accords, and was assassinated in 1995.


And Golda Meir, one of the first elected female leaders in the world, when she became PM in 1969.

We then went Yad Vashem, which is the Holocaust Memorial.


This is a photo of a photo taken from a liberated concentration camp. At this stage we were told no photos are allowed, which is a pity as so many of the scenes there need to be shown as widely as possible.

The museum is very moving, and very detailed. There is a huge amount of documentation, plus audio and visual displays. Allow two hours at least. I thought I knew a lot about the Holocaust, but I learnt a lot more at the museum.

At the very end you can search their database of holocaust victims. I spent a while searching for various relatives, which made it very real.

The museum covers well not just the Holocaust, but the conditions that led to it, and also the many people who risked their lives to help the victims.


A Holocaust monument in the exterior of the museum.


Female soldiers are a very common sight in Israel as military service is compulsory for both genders.


This is a picture of one of the Supreme Court courtrooms. The Israeli Supreme Court is much hallowed in Israel, as the vision was to found a country based on the rule of law.

The Supreme Court is unusual, in that it is not just an appellate court. It does hear appeals from District Courts (akin to our High Courts) but also is the High Court of Justice and has original jurisdiction on some matters such as petitions against the state. So rather than be a leisurely few cases a year supreme court, it hears over 5,000 cases a year.

The reasons for this is the British, it seems. When the British ruled the area, they did not want the lower courts hearing petitions against their actions, so they

It can and does strike down laws that conflict with the Basic Law. Rather controversially it just a few days ago declared a law allowing for private prisons (I think owned not just managed but am not sure) to breach human rights for prisoners. It tends to be seen as an activist or liberal court, but in a country with no constitution and no existence until 1948, they have been forced to create their own law, relying on overseas precedents where possible.

The Court has 15 members (was 12 until recently) and normally sits in benches of three. More important cases can have bigger benches, and one case had 11 Judges sit on it. There must be an odd number.

We also went to the Knesset, which I will blog about in a new post.

The Supreme Court Building is quite magnificent – a mixture of old and new. Definitely worth a tour.