A senior lawyer tells the conference he can take up arms if there are changes in the judiciary

Senior lawyer David Hodek sparked controversy at a legal conference on Wednesday after he said he would “not hesitate to use live fire” if the government goes ahead with its controversial plans to overhaul the legal system.

David Hodek, a business lawyer who also received a Medal of Courage, one of the Israeli military’s highest honors, for his conduct as a tank officer in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, told the Israel Bar Association’s annual conference in Eilat that “if someone forces me to live under a dictatorship and I have no choice, I will not hesitate to use live fire.”

Hodek seemed to make it clear that he wasn’t speaking metaphorically, saying, “People are ready to fight with guns. Everyone is horrified [at such statements], they say ‘How can you say something like that?’ I say it. If I am forced to go there and they drag me there, I will do it.”

According to the Maariv news agency, some of the surprised listeners applauded the rhetoric, while others considered filing a complaint against Hodek.

“I’m not for it [of the sweeping reforms], and it’s a terrifying vision, but I won’t live under a dictatorship. If you don’t want war, you should prevent this dictatorship,” he said, affirming: “If I have to fight, I will fight.

“As an adult in Israel, I was taught two things: how to be a lawyer and how to fight — I don’t think this government understands the quagmire they’re getting into,” he said.

In his speech on the podium, Hadek praised the resistance of the Israeli public to the planned reforms. “People are ready to fight with guns. If it has to come to that and they drag me there, I will do it.”

Israelis protest against proposed changes to the legal system in Tel Aviv on January 28, 2023. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

At the same conference, the President of the Israel Press Council and former deputy Supreme Court, Hanan Melcer, responded to threats from members of the new government to shut down the public broadcaster Kan.

The current public broadcaster, created in 2017 after a lengthy court case to replace its predecessor the Israel Broadcasting Authority, has long been a target of members of the Likud party, who see it as an organization hostile to their agenda .

An attempt by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to split Kan into separate news and entertainment divisions was agreed in 2018, only to be abandoned when Israel won the 2018 Eurovision Contest as maintaining an independent public broadcaster was a requirement for hosting the following year was.

Melcer compared Kan to the BBC, telling the audience that there was a cross-party consensus in the UK about the importance of the service.

“Public service broadcasting not only has to fulfill the public’s right to information or freedom of the press, but also enables neutral and objective reporting on the current situation. It can be critical and do unique things that commercial channels don’t do.

Melcer also highlighted the public broadcaster’s ability to provide content and information for vulnerable populations, minority groups and people with disabilities.

“The law also says that the public broadcaster should be critical, and the rulers don’t like that, just like the rulers in Poland, Hungary and Turkey don’t like it. In doing so, they also undermined freedom of the press and broadcasting there,” Melcer concludes.

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