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Red Rag column - protest against judicial racism
12 October 2019
Supreme Court Judge
Alex Stein

A year has not yet passed since you began to serve as a judge in the Supreme Court, and already you have managed to contaminate the Israeli justice system with a racist ruling – the deportation of the child Rohan. Is this your way of thanking former justice minister Ayelet Shaked, a member of the Forum for the Elimination of Democracy, who fought like a lioness for your appointment to the Supreme Court? As if to say to her, “you can count on me, you’re in good hands”? Although the fascist circles are celebrating your ruling, human-rights organizations are shedding tears over what was expected.

I remind you that in a democratic state a judge is not the long arm of the government, but, among other things, stands on guard to put the brakes on a government that shows signs of democratic collapse.

This is particularly true in a state in which the enemies of democracy are threatening equality and freedom of expression. A compromised justice system that bows its head to violent nationalism is betraying its role, and facilitating the deterioration of the state to a criminal tyranny. Yehudit Karp, the former deputy attorney general, published an article under the title, “Israel’s illegal deportation of a 13-year-old child”, [1] in which she wrote: “With determination, expediency and callousness, 13-year-old Rohan, who is Israeli by circumstance, was deported from Israel, where he was born and raised, and sent to the Philippines, whose connection to him is that his mother is a Filipina who was living illegally in Israel. All Israelis who value morality should be deeply ashamed of this, since they are indirectly responsible for this terrible deportation … The fundamental value enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child – from which all the children’s rights and all of the obligations of the state are derived – is respect for the child. The Convention applies to all children within the state’s jurisdiction, whether or not they are citizens or residents of the state. … These principles emphasize that children are human beings and therefore deserving of respect, and that they have individual rights. A child is not an object and not property. Children are independent, separate beings with their own interests, thoughts, opinions, desires, needs and feelings. … These rights were so blatantly violated as to make the decision to expel him illegal. Rohan must be returned to Israel, with his mother, for proceedings on his future that are held in compliance with the UN Convention. … If Rohan is not returned to Israel to correct the injustice that was done to him, children’s-rights organizations and human-rights organizations in Israel will do well to consider appealing to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child to complain about the violation of his rights under the Convention.”

You were the last link in the judicial chain that authorized the expulsion of Rohan. As a judge in the highest court you could have rectified the injustice, but your humanitarian judgment was distorted by racism. Thus you find yourself making illegal rulings, as defined by Yehudit Karp.

One might have expected you to exhibit solidarity in the Rohan case. He attended school in a special programme because of psychological and social difficulties. Experts in special-needs education have warned that Rohan’s deportation would likely cause him irreversible damage. You, as a father of an autistic child, are certainly aware of the issues involved here. One need not be a jurist to make humane rulings. One need only be a human being. Stein is “stone” in German. And you have acted with Prussian sternness.

You can correct the injustice. Take advantage of your high office which opens doors for a meeting with Interior Minister Deri or Justice Minister Ohana and explain to them that you have changed your mind about Rohan and his mother, send them two flight tickets along with an entry permit to Israel and wait for them in the arrivals area, preferably with a bouquet of flowers.

Racism is one of the most malignant and dangerous phenomena there are. The Jews have paid a heavy price, millions were murdered and slaughtered. The lesson has not been learned. Xenophobia and hatred of minorities are sweeping across Europe. Israel today is on the crest of a wave of racism. No one thought that a state ruled by Jews would adopt racist policies that are reminiscent of the first years of Nazi Germany. My age and state of health limit my capacity for activism. But I am doing what I can to stop judges who forsake human rights and support war-crimes. Reconsider your willingness to serve a regime that has been violating human rights and running an apartheid system for years now.

I am a refugee, born in Germany. I was expelled from the country where I was born because I was a member of a minority group whose basic rights were denied by a tyrannical and racist regime. Rohan and his mother were expelled for the same reasons – racism against a minority group.

Gideon Spiro

Translator’s note:

1. Yehudit Karp. 18 August 2019. “Israel’s illegal deportation of a 13-year-old child.” Haaretz.
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