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Rabbi Eyal Karim. 'Has he reconsidered his stand?'
Photo: Bamahane
Photo: Atta Awisat
Prof. Daniel Friedmann
Photo: Atta Awisat
High Court as Israel’s morality police
Op-ed: It’s time for the High Court of Justice to examine its peculiar policy of criticizing every appointment in the public service sector.
The High Court of Justice, in a panel presided by Supreme Court President Miriam Naor, dealt ardently with a petition filed by Meretz’s female Knesset members against Eyal Karim’s appointment as chief military rabbi. The petition ascribed to Karim inappropriate comments against women and homosexuals and the chief justice was quoted as saying during the discussion, “We want to hear what he has to say. What was his stand at the time, what is his stand now, whether he has reconsidered it.”

 

 

Karim was required, therefore, to submit a deposition and explain his stand, to share his opinions and views with the High Court, and then it would be decided if he was worthy of the position. He did it, and the petitioners announced that the petition had reached its goal and that there was no need to continue the discussion.

 

Supreme Court President Miriam Naor. Donald Trump should consider his good fortune, being out of her reach (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
Supreme Court President Miriam Naor. Donald Trump should consider his good fortune, being out of her reach (Photo: Gil Yohanan)

 

In a ruling expressing satisfaction, and perhaps even pride over the achievement, in addition to a slight admonition, Chief Justice Miriam Naor decided to shelve the petition in light of Karim’s “clear words” and wished him luck in his new position “for the glory of the State of Israel.”

 

US President-elect Donald Trump should consider his good fortune, being out of the Israeli High Court’s reach. Our High Court, which repeatedly proves its moral superiority, would not have let such a phenomenon rise. Under the High Court's regime, Trump would have been required to stand before the court during the election campaign, submit a deposition and explain a series of comments he had made, as well as respond to different allegations regarding his treatment of women.

 

The honorable judges would have announced, “We want to hear what he has to say. What was his stand at the time, what is his stand now, where he has reconsidered it”—implying that if he fails to do so, he would be disqualified and his right to present his candidacy to a position that is as important as a chief military rabbi would be revoked.

 

But the Americans, as we know, are nowhere near the superior judicial and moral level of Israeli High Court. They are still stuck in very old concepts of separation of powers, judiciality, etc.

 

When it comes to the Trump issue, by the way, we should not despair, either. He may be invited to visit Israel, and that is clearly not something that can be ignored. It will be necessary to urgently ask the High Court to order the government to prevent such a visit to the Holy Land as long as he has failed to clarify, to the High Court’s satisfaction, “what he has to say, what was his stand at the time, what is his stand today, whether he has reconsidered it.”

 

The High Court’s peculiar decision on Karim is supported by a series of precedents which are as peculiar. In one of them, then-Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Halutz was required to explain to the court his “ideological stance” regarding comments that had been attributed to him. The High Court is not the first to show an interest in different candidates’ ideological views. It was preceded by the Catholic Church, which took it upon itself to clarify, through methods it had adopted, whether its believers were not denying its doctrine, Heaven forbid, and the Communist regime, which also realized the great threat posed by people denying its doctrine.

 

The High Court is, of course, far from all that. It carries the flag of liberalism, freedom of speech and freedom of thought. But there appears to be an interesting process in which the gap between the different radical views is narrowed. Suddenly, an amazing similarity is revealed between aggressive theology and aggressive communism, and even radical liberalism can show alarming signs of aggression.

 

It is time, therefore, for the High Court to examine itself and the peculiar policy under which it is permitted to criticize every appointment in the public service out of considerations of reasonability, which have no limit or extent, and even turn itself into a morality police force. It should also acknowledge the fact that its reasonability is not necessarily better than that of the chief-of-staff or other governmental authorities.

 

Prof. Daniel Friedmann served as Israel's justice minister from 2007 to 2009.

 

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