|By: Gideon Spiro|
19 January 2012 (English translation 27 January)
Letters to judges of the Supreme Court
1. To the Honourable Dorit Beinish
President of the Supreme Court
Next month you will complete your term as president of the Supreme Court and retire. Your term ends amid considerable discord. In the Judge Selection Committee of which you are a member, you voted for the appointment of the settler Noam Solberg to be a judge in the Supreme Court. Thus, a judge who does not live in Israel, but in an area under an apartheid regime will sit in the Supreme Court. He enjoys the privileges accorded to him by that apartheid regime. He is a party to the crime of building settlements, he takes part in the theft of the lands of the Palestinian people and he is protected by the Occupation army. In short, he is a judge who is a party to war crimes as they are defined in international legislation. This man will be a member of judicial panels in the High Court of Justice.  Justice takes on a fraudulent aspect when a war criminal rules on what is justice. Even George Orwell would be impressed by such a brazenly Orwellian spectacle.
Every proponent of democracy and human rights must of course protest against this appointment, which constitutes an expression of discrimination and racism, and that is what I am doing. At the same time, however, I also see in the appointment as a blessing, in that it helps opponents of the Occupation and apartheid in Israel and in the world to remove the veil of an “independent and democratic court”. The process of subordinating the Supreme Court to the needs of the Occupation began years ago, and under your leadership it increased; but with the appointment of a settler to such a high position a circle has been closed. The settlers, the Lords of the Land, can now make a “V-for-victory” sign, because they have captured yet another stronghold.
Israel sees itself as part of the free world, but it creates precedents that are foreign to the principles of democracy. Israel is the first state in the democratic world where a person who signed a report authorizing torture – Yaakov Maltz, in 1988 – was appointed to be a judge in the Supreme Court. And now that a person who is a party to war crimes has been appointed to that elevated position, a new precedent has been created.
Given these facts, it is but natural that soon after the decision to appoint Solberg as a judge in the Supreme Court, that same Court made one of its most despicable rulings, if not the worst ever, since the birth of the State of Israel. I am referring to the ruling of 11 January 2012, that will be recorded as a black day in the history of the Israeli justice system, in which 11 judges of the Supreme Court, by a majority of six to five, rejected four appeals of three human rights organizations and MK Zahava Gal-On against the legality of the citizenship law that bars Arab citizens of Israel from being united in Israel with their Palestinian spouses from the Occupied Territories. In the appeals it was claimed that the law harmed only Palestinian citizens of Israel and as such it had a racist character, and it harmed one of the basic human rights – the right to family life in the state of which one is a citizen.
The six judges ruled that this was a “proportional harm” (yet another sanitized figure of speech of the Occupation era) and as such it is constitutional. The racist judges pulled up every rationalization they could lay their hands on. Starting with security, passing through demography and ending up with a failed effort to “convert”  rulings from other countries that dealt with completely different issues. The hundreds of pages of the ruling will not be able to conceal its racist character. In consequence of this ruling thousands of Palestinian citizens of Israel who have married Palestinians from the Occupied Territories will be forced to separate from their spouses, and the children will be torn between their Israeli parent and their Palestinian one who was forced to return to the Occupied Territories. This cruel ruling is reminiscent of the darkest periods in the history of the persecution of the Jews.
Even though you were in the minority of five judges who opposed the law in its current formulation, you cannot rest on your laurels as a human-rights defender. After the departure of the judge Ayala Procaccia, who at the beginning of the proceedings was part of the panel of judges that supported the overturning of the law, you appointed in her place the judge Neal Hendel, who supports the ratification of the law. You thereby created the majority necessary to reject the appeals. The newspaper Haaretz pointed out that you feared a public outcry by the Right that rules Israel if the court found that the law was not constitutional, and so you acted to ensure a majority for its approval. And thus, on the verge of your retirement, instead of exhibiting courage, you proved to be a coward.
This ruling is convincing proof of the allegation that the characterization of Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state” is an oxymoron. Again and again we witness how the Jewish component of the definition overrides the democratic one.
2. To His Honour
President-Elect of the Supreme Court
The racist settler MK Yaakov Katz of the National Union party submitted a bill that would pave the way for you to become President of the Supreme Court. Passed by the Knesset, the bill is known as the “Grunis Law”. MK Katz calculated that you would loyally serve the objectives of the Right and so you should be chosen. And so far it looks like he bet on the right horse.
To remind you: the National Union, a party of refugees from the Kach Movement of the arch-racist Rabbi Kahane, who as a Member of the Knesset in the 1980s, submitted bills according to which only a Jew could be a citizen of Israel, and proposed an Israeli adaptation of the Nuremberg law according to which Jews would be forbidden to have sexual relations with Arabs. That is the profile of those who have taken you under their wing.
Your contribution to the judgment fully met the expectations of MK Katz and his friends. Your ruling begins with a declaration that met with applause from the Right in general and the racist settler Right in particular: “Human rights are not a prescription for national suicide.” With that mendacious slogan you could be a respected judge in any tyrannical regime, from North Korea to Assad’s Syria.
You promote fear by claiming that Palestinians who have come to live in Israel because of their marriages constitute a security threat, because of the possibility that one or another of them may be involved in terrorist activities. Among the thousands of Palestinians who have moved to Israel from the Territories due to marriage, there have been only isolated cases of involvement in what is called “terror activities” (And involvement in political activities that displeased the Israel Security Agency has also been included under that category). In what law school, Mr. Grunis, did you learn to collectively deny basic rights to an ethnic or national group due to the sins of individuals? No Palestinian from the Occupied Territories who came to live in Israel has caused the deaths of hundreds of people every year, which are caused in Israel by traffic violations. Would it occur to you to withdraw drivers’ licences from the entire population because some drivers break the law?
Human rights are never a recipe for national suicide. On the contrary, the preservation of human rights is the spice of life for those who love life. If we are on the verge of national suicide it is due to the continuation of the Occupation and oppression. My advice to you, Grunis, is to get off the right-wing ramp, turn your back on it and use the your three years as president of the Supreme Court to steer it onto the path of human rights.
3. To the Honourable
Judge at the Supreme Court
Your contribution to the ruling that rejected the appeals against the racist citizenship law was a unique one. You recognize the fact that the right to family life is a constitutional right, but you say that the right to family life with a foreign spouse “does not necessarily apply specifically in Israel.” What creativity. A unique contribution of Israeli jurisprudence to the international law. How is it that we did we not think of that before?
The tyrants of the world will sing your praises. Now all that remains is to apply this rule of “not necessarily here” to all human-rights issues. Freedom of expression? Freedom to strike? Freedom of movement? The right to life with dignity? The right to property? The right to a fair trial? The right to freedom of conscience? The right to a free press? The right to education? The right to shelter? The right to a living wage? The right to citizenship? The right to asylum for the persecuted? They are all important rights, but their implementation? Not in our school.
Miriam, Miriam, you are an intelligent woman, how could such dangerous nonsense have come from you? As a refugee from Nazi Germany I was a victim of this kind of “not in our backyard”-ism. I suggest that you read Hannah Arendt’s book The Origins of Totalitarianism for a reminder of where we came from and where we must not go.
4. To the Honourable
Judge at the Supreme Court
On 8 January 2012 the Supreme Court rejected an appeal by the Yesh Gvul movement against the appointment of the settler Noam Solberg as a judge in the Supreme Court. The appeal was rejected out of hand. You wrote the decision and two of your colleagues on the panel, Esther Hayut and Uzi Fogelman, joined in agreement.
The Israeli justice system is known as for being cumbersome and slow. Trials sometimes drag on for years, and even when the deliberations have ended, judges often delay giving handing down rulings for long periods, which can cause inestimable distress. And lo, wonder of wonders, in this particular appeal the justice system proved to be efficient and expeditious. It looks as though world record has been attained. The appeal was rejected on the day it was submitted. You acted like Mafia members rushing to the defence of a member of their gang; not like judges trying to clarify the allegations at the basis of the appeal.
The content of the decision is shameful and shallow and it takes sophistry to an infantile level.
In paragraph 3 of the decision you wrote: “Nor did I find a judicial precedent according to which the place of residence compromises professional integrity in general or judicial professional integrity in particular. The appellant did not point to any such precedent, but for the sake of prudence I reviewed the Rules of Ethics for Judges (2007), and I did not find there that the place of residence constitutes any contravention of the rules of ethics.”
And every reader will laugh bitterly. Is it written in the Rules of Ethics for Judges that it is forbidden to appoint an idiot? Does that mean that the way is paved for idiots to sit on the judicial bench?
Do you really not understand how problematic it is to appoint to the Supreme Court a judge who lives outside Israel, in an occupied territory governed by a regime of apartheid? Is your comprehension so limited that you do not understand that a judge who is a party to war crimes (which is how the settlements are defined in international law), whose place of residence is a violation of international conventions to which Israel is a signatory, conventions that forbid occupying states to transfer their civilian populations to occupied territory, cannot be a judge in a state that claims to be democratic? Is it not clear to you that the professional integrity of a judge who is a party to the theft of land of the Palestinian people is gravely compromised? Israel’s pretension to be a normal democracy has no credibility, and the appointment of Solberg is an “idol in the Temple” to democrats who believe in human rights. If it were a matter of ethical violations it would be a minor problem in comparison to the baggage overflowing with criminal offenses that Solberg is carrying on his racist back.
The appointment of Solberg as well as the language you used in rejecting the appeal point powerfully and with laser sharpness to the slide of the Israeli state and society towards the abyss in which the Weimar Republic collapsed. You and your colleagues on the panel urgently need to attend an intensive workshop on human rights. You have lost your bearings and your conscience.
Please forward this letter to your two colleagues on the panel.
The murder of nuclear scientists in Iran
Recently another nuclear scientist was murdered in Iran. The fourth. I have more than reasonable grounds for assuming that this is the work of the Israeli Mossad. And that is reinforced by the Israeli army spokesman’s statement that he will not “shed a tear” over the murder. The tactic of murdering scientists – besides the fact that it will not realize the goal of stopping the Iranian nuclear project but on the contrary may strengthen Iran’s efforts – is morally unacceptable. It constitutes the extra-judicial execution of scientists who are members of the academic staffs of universities, family men who are no different from Israeli nuclear scientists who combine teaching in universities with work for the government in the nuclear reactor at Dimona. Would it be acceptable for the Iranians to murder Israeli scientists who serve the Israeli nuclear weapons project?
It is astonishing that there has been no protest from the Israeli Academy. My advice to the Israeli chemists who won the Nobel Prize is to raise their voices against this tactic, to which they themselves are liable to fall victim as well. Recall the tradition of Hillel the Elder, who said, “Do not do unto others what is hateful unto you.” The solution is not for various intelligence agencies to murder scientists, but for the Middle East to be divested of weapons of mass destruction. Israel, which is armed to the teeth with hundreds of nuclear as well as chemical and biological weapons, is not willing to proceed in the direction of disarmament.
1. When the Supreme Court hears appeals against actions by agents of the State of Israel, it is referred to as the High Court of Justice.
2. The Hebrew verb used here is being used ironically, because it normally means “to convert someone to Judaism”.
Translated from Hebrew for Occupation Magazine by George Malent.