Greetings to the Free People of Democratic Israel!
For many days, we have been observing with admiration the great attachment of Israeli society to the tripartite division of power. We are reminded of the protests that swept through Poland in 2017, known as "chains of light", in defence of the independence of our courts. Because of those protests, we managed to secure the president's veto on two laws aimed at destroying the independence of the judiciary. Unfortunately, half a year later, very similar laws were passed. Nevertheless, we did not give up. We fought and continue to fight, on legal grounds, for the right of citizens to independent courts. We also remember the March of a Thousand Robes in Warsaw on January 11, 2020 – a unique event by world standards. Today, the anniversary of this march is a day that global organizations of judges want to adopt as the Day of the Independent Judiciary.
The protests in Poland and the protests in Israel are not separate events – they are the reaction of engaged citizens to creeping authoritarianism, a trend which is gaining momentum around the world. Freedom is not given to anyone once and for all, it must be fought for anew every day. Freedom will not come to those who passively wait for it. It just takes one law, passed under the cover of night, as it happened in Poland, to deprive citizens of freedom, first by selecting political appointees as judges, then by writing verdicts in the offices of politicians, and finally by imprisoning who criticize the authorities, as is happening in Russia. We, Polish judges, feel obliged to warn you that one of the most insidious methods of rulers taking on the guise of democrats is to deprive citizens of freedom in small steps, bit by bit. This is the case in Poland, where more and more judges are appointed by a politicized National Council of the Judiciary and the bodies responsible for the control and oversight of the elections have already been staffed with people chosen by the ruling political party.
However, for as long as there are free judges, in Poland and in Israel, and free people supporting them, the light of freedom will shine on. We, Polish judges, looking at you and remembering the protests of Poles in 2017, know that it is our duty to rebuild the rule of law, a task we are ready for. We believe that the current situation, in both our states, will be the spur for the development of a "legal vaccine" leading to the strengthening of the independence of the judiciary in democratic countries everywhere.
As free people we know that our basic value, which we follow, is the principle that one cannot be indifferent. One cannot be indifferent to cases of lawlessness in one's own country, but also elsewhere in the world. That is our duty. Marek Edelman, a witness to the terrible events of the Holocaust, said: When you see evil and turn your head away or do not help, when you can help, you become co-responsible. Because turning one's head helps those who do evil.
Thank you for not turning your head away, for not being indifferent.