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The High Court, Israel’s Last Line of Defense

In retrospect, signs of a slackening grip on the wheel of opposition to the spreading wave of depravity in the country have already been visible: If the people are OK with corruption, let there be corruption; if the people don’t want Arabs, then let’s not have Arabs. The rule of law is in danger! Come on, stop exaggerating.

Slowly and persistently, the tone shifts. There’s a measure of sympathy for Benny Gantz’s defection, and the cry goes out: Don’t sully Amir Peretz and Itzik Shmuli with accusations of treason. In fact, they deserve a seal of trustworthiness. How did Fairouz put it in her song “Mish Kayen Hayk Tkoun”? “The olives were different, and even you, my dear, aren’t what you once were.”

The signs of the times apparently got the best of Aviv Drucker, the knight of good governance in general and of exposing alleged corruption by Benjamin Netanyahu in particular. Ravit Hecht, the warrior against governmental injustice, is also speaking more softly. The principles haven’t changed, heaven forfend; it’s called thinking outside the box, the box being the principles. And Carolina Landsmann declared Sunday (Haaretz, May 3) that there is a herd on the left as well. An obnoxious herd, one that maintains its principles, that is incapable of hypocrisy.

To the credit of these good people let us say that the syndrome is a familiar one. When you cannot defeat the enemy from without, you direct your anger inward, to your insufficiently supportive family or your begrudging friends.

The enemy becomes secondary, and the blows are aimed at the nearest targets, such as the dogmatic left that fails to bend in the wind. Principled individuals suddenly seem haughty, as if Netanyahu were a humble knight. We won’t even mention that ultimate intellectual Gadi Taub, who waves his sword at the High Court of Justice, which in its unconscionable chutzpah is abusing the unchallenged leader of the nation.

The seeds of anti-constitutional revolution fell on fertile ground, the result of deep social processes the core of which is Machiavelli’s principle that the end justifies – consecrates, in Hebrew – the means.

Israel’s entire judicial system is built around putting the holiness of the land above the holiness of humankind (especially when it comes to Arab humankind). Its legal system is based on the legitimacy of occupying, disinheriting, destroying and expelling. This system is paying a price for its absolute submission to the policy of occupation.

I am sickened by those voices saying the High Court went too far in interfering with governmental decisions, as when it barred the Shin Bet security service from tracking coronavirus patients or struck down the law requiring asylum seekers to place 20 percent of their wages in an escrow account they can access only when they leave the country. And “the guys” take to heart “when in Rome” maxim in order to honor the will of the people. And if the people shouts, “Death to Arabs,” the court must assent.

The lament of Moshe Sharett from 60 years ago – that “Israel must decide if it wants to be a state of law or a state of piracy” – still rings true.

It has taken us a long time to reach the High Court this week. The writing was on the wall for the defection of Gantz and his partners, even before that of Orli Levi-Abekasis. “Do as the Romans do,” that’s the wind that blows from every direction.

In the face of the wind bend your head, not the opposite. MK Merav Michaeli, who fought like a lioness against Peretz and Shmuli’s decision to join the Netanyahu government, found herself alone, spurned by most of her party. The author David Grossman gave his blessing to Gantz’s disgraceful act. Even Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, who issued the indictment against Netanyahu for three serious criminal offenses, ruled that there is no legal barrier against his forming a government.

In the meantime, we have been treated to prodigious showers of enthusiasm from the man who fought the coronavirus singlehandedly. He was portrayed as in the movies, blocking the pandemic with one hand and defending Netanyahu with the other, a flesh-and-blood Rambo.

By the way, despite the Israeli siege, the Palestinian Authority managed to cope with the coronavirus better than the omnipotent Rambo did.

I don’t have any high hopes – after all, justices are only human – but fate has given them an opportunity to be the last line of defense against the complete collapse of the rule of law. Will they hold up? Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

Source: Odeh Bisharat – HAARETZ