On the eve of the High Court of Justice ruling on family reunification for mixed Israeli-Palestinian couples, I told a friend that I thought the petitions submitted by human rights organizations would be rejected by a narrow majority, and that’s what happened.
Five justices, led by Chief Justice Aharon Barak thought the petitions should be accepted; six justices, led by Deputy Chief Justice Mishael Cheshin, shortly before his recent retirement, thought the petitions should be rejected. The reason is not because I can predict the future or read others’ minds, but because for years I have followed High Court rulings, particularly Barak’s rulings. It was clear to me that all the Jewish justices support the law that prevents Israeli Arab citizens from living with their Palestinian spouses. All the justices support a so-called “Jewish, democratic state.”
The legal joining of “Jewish” and “democratic” creates an obvious inconsistency. The justices have often ruled that Jewish takes precedence over democratic. Of course, they do not say this, but try with all manner of sweet words to hide the insuperable contradiction in terminology. Yes, sometimes, a bridge is built by terminology, but soon it becomes clear that a contradiction cannot be avoided and that a decision like the one issued by the High Court is necessary. On one hand, democracy means recognizing the right of Arab citizens to form a family in their country; on the other hand, the justices fear “drowning Israel in Arabs,” which endangers the “Jewish majority.” In this case, the preference is to maintain the Jewish majority, and democracy will be sidelined. (Regardless of whether these fears are simply illusions, those who plant them have achieved their objective.)
It was clear to Barak that rejecting the petitions by a ten-justice majority, with the lone Arab justice in the minority, would make the court appear a font of blatant racism. Barak thought well about how to dispel the impression that the court is racist. The answer is clear: a one-vote majority that sends the message that the court is “confused” and “split.”
All those who know the court from behind the scenes know that in sensitive issues, when there is an exceptional judicial panel involved, the justices sit alone to discuss it. Barak in his wisdom determined the outcome. When he realized there was majority support for rejecting the petitions, he was able to sit relaxed in his office and write an extremely liberal legal opinion that he could proudly present to his liberal friends at Yale University and at the same time mitigate the negative impression of the majority ruling.
Certainly, some legal experts will “analyze” these rulings and pronounce them full of elegant wisdom. So let them. I learned a long time ago that one can legalize something and its opposite. Mishael Cheshin’s ruling is closer to a political speech given by the Israeli ambassador to the UN. Almost all the justices have fallen under the spell of the idea of state security, but it was clear to every rational person that the demographic issue was the decisive one.
Despite everything, this does not excuse us from answering the question posed by most Israelis: Should Arab citizens of Israel be allowed to freely marry residents of the territories, even if there are some who believe this may threaten the Jewish majority? The answer is clear: As long as we consider the right to form a family to be a universal right, we cannot impose national-ethnic restrictions on it.
Control of the settlers still not deflected
The new Kadima-Labor coalition continues to appoint settlers to important positions. After a war criminal settler from the occupied territories was appointed as the new military rabbi, it was the turn of the Radio Authority, which will soon see a settler joining its ranks. MK Eitan Cabel (Labor), the minister without portfolio responsible for the Radio Authority, agreed with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that Moti Shaklar, a settler from Ofra, will occupy the post of the next general director of the Radio Authority. When a racist figure from an apartheid area starts working as the chief editor for government radio, it does not bode well for the free media in Israel.
I demand protection
In the next few days, I will send a letter to the Attorney General demanding that he protect me from Minister of Police Avi Dichter, the former head of the Shin Bet.
Dichter has taken up personal assassinations—that is, execution without trial—as his own personal slogan. The man has, in fact, played the role of the assassin, the murderer who carries the missile, a mafia boss with power and authority.
He also assassinated political leaders whose positions did not suit him. Apparently Israel is the only country in the Western world to have a police minister with the blood of hundreds of people, executed without trial, on his hands.
The violence exercised in the occupied territories long ago crossed the Green Line and entered Israel. The widespread violence in Israel, the murder and the use of weapons, cannot be separated from the official violence used in the territories. Prof. Bar-On, the dean of behavioral sciences at Ben-Gurion University, has recognized the negative impact of the standards of the occupation on violence among the occupiers.
Who can guarantee to me that Avi Dichter will not apply the assassination policy that followed him as head of the Shin Bet in Israel? No one can rule out the possibility that this man—so quick to kill people in the occupied territories—will not apply the same method in Israel. Instead of cutting the police resources used to disperse demonstrators from Taayush and Anarchists Against the Wall in Belain and al-Ram, he sends several snipers. Can he not do this? Why are we taking this test? It could be too late for some people.
As such, I will ask Attorney General Mani Mazuz, who did not reject the murderer Dichter’s appointment, to protect the leftists in Israel who are struggling against the occupation, at least with the kind of protection given to the Prime Minister, who faces much less danger than that faced by leftist activists in the form of Avi Dichter.