The Jerusalem Labor Court severely criticized on Wednesday the statement of claim put forward by former Prime Minister's Residence employee Shira Raban against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's wife Sara, citing problematic phrasing, and taking issue with the use of the word "slave" to describe Raban's experiences at the Residence.
"When I read the statement of claim, I got the impression it was created for some medium other than these legal proceedings. The appellations you gave employees, why is that necessary? Why wasn't her name mentioned in the suit? These descriptions have no place in legal proceedings and I will not allow them," said Labor Court President Eyal Avrahami.
Avrahami also bristled at the use of the term "slave", saying, "I request the word 'slave' be stricken from the statement. This suit is also meant for ears other than these legal proceedings."
Raban's attorney Oren Gross replied, "If she was forbidden to use the bathroom, is that not slavery? The suit is intended to demonstrate the mores of the Prime Minister's Residence."
Incensed with the reply, Judge Avrahami poured cold water on the explanation. "I don't care about the mores ... It's irrelevant. I don't care about background noises from the respondent's residential floor. I only care about what happened to the plaintiff," he said.
Gross insisted he'd used the term because "When an employee is shouted at and humiliated, like in the 1930s, and screamed at for being short, she's a slave. The statement of claim describes what she went through."
Despite his criticism and requests, Avrahami did not force Raban's legal team to change the phrasing. He did, however, accede to the request of the prime minister's adviser on Haredi affairs Rivka Paluch, chief caretaker Efi Azulay and Chief of Staff Yoav Horowitz, to have their names stricken from the suit.
The State Attorney's Office objected to attorney Yossi Cohen's request to have the name of his client, Sara Netanyahu, also stricken. "The entire episode in question took place on the second floor. There's no single person there aware of what occurs, and Mrs. Netanyahu is the one giving the orders. Only she can defend her account of events. We therefore must insist she not be stricken from the suit," said the state's representative, attorney Maggie Krietenstein.
At the discussion's conclusion, Mrs. Netanyahu's attorney scathed the very nature of the trial. "This suit is contemptible and ugly, and was not worded by a jurist but by a PR man. The judge ordered the plaintiff to properly word her suit and expressed his opinion on her slanderous verbiage. Anyone present in the court could plainly see Mrs. Netanyahu has been seriously wronged."