Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein expressed his unwavering support for Justice Salim Joubran's decision not to sing Israel's national anthem, Hatikva, at chief Justice Asher Grunis' induction ceremony.
The anthem was sung at the end of the ceremony by all judges present, who then posed for the traditional group photo. Joubran, who is the highest-ranking Israeli-Arab on the Bench, chose to stand silently beside them.
The decision was harshly criticized, but Ynet learned Thursday that Rubinstein sent a letter to all presiding judges defending the decision.
In the letter, Rubinstein argues that Israeli-Arabs should not be made to sing lyrics they cannot identify with: "They are welcome to choose to join us in singing the anthem, but we cannot demand it of them," he wrote.
"I cannot ignore the storm surrounding the question of whether my colleague, Justice Salim Joubran, should have sung the words to Hatikva. I believe the criticism leveled at Judge Joubran was ill-directed.
"I believe that Hatikva… reflects the Jewish longing for Zion and for freedom. Non-Jewish citizens must honor the anthem by standing for it, as the Non-Jewish officers in the IDF, police and Prison Service do.
"Nevertheless," he continued, "We cannot demand that Arab citizens sing the words of an anthem they cannot relate to, and ones that do not reflect their roots. We must make room for common sense.
"Naturally, we welcome them should they choose to join us in the anthem, but the decision must be left to them, as a personal one."
Judge Joubran, he concluded, "Does not need my praises, but after eight years of close friendship, through our work, I can attest to his judicial integrity. He is a loyal citizen of the State of Israel, who dutifully represents us overseas."
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