In a very unsurprising move, the Supreme Court overruled the Central Elections Commission and determined that MK Hanin Zoabi of the Balad party can run in the upcoming elections.
Despite the Elections Commission being clearly right in saying she breached the requirements regarding who is not allowed to run, and the Supreme Court being clearly wrong in having overruled them, I probably have to support Zoabi’s right to run.
Zoabi, as you should recall, was an involved passenger on the Mavi Marmara blockade run attempt in 2010.
On the Mavi Marmara, a group of passengers, connected to the Turkish IHH (designated as a terror organization by Israel), attacked IDF naval troops, including with at least one gun, during their attempt to break the blockade of Hamas terror-controlled Gaza and provide aid to Israel’s enemy.
Zoabi set off a political storm in Israel with her participation on that particular boat.
So you must be asking yourself, why am I supporting her right to run in the Knesset, despite her association with known terrorists and attempting to aid the enemy?
After all, in Israel’s Elections Law it clearly states the following are the basis for individuals and parties not being allowed to run:
1. The rejection of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state.
2. Incitement of racism.
3. Support of the armed struggle of enemy states or terrorist organizations against the state of Israel.
4. A reasonable basis to conclude that the party will be used for illegal activities.
Zoabi seems to clearly be in violation of at least #1 and #3.
And the Balad party’s stated goal is the “struggle to transform the state of Israel into a democracy for all its citizens, irrespective of national or ethnic identity,” is clearly in violation of #1.
And its not like there isn’t history here.
You might recall the famous case of MK Azmi Bishara, not coincidentally, also from the Balad party.
Bishara ran away before he could be arrested for actively aiding Hezbollah during the Second Lebanon War. And then the Knesset banned the Balad party, but once again the Supreme Court overruled them and let Balad run.
I have two reasons for this admittedly strange position.
The first is that it’s a badly written law.
It’s vague and it potentially chills free speech.
Parts of the law above are incredibly vague (such as #2), and there’s far too much wiggle room that allows it to be spuriously applied to any political enemy, such as the recent attempts to use it against Ben-Ari and Naftali Bennett, in an attempt to block them from running.
It’s a law crying out for selective abuse, just as it was selectively abused in the past against another rightwing party who was becoming very popular, and yet it was never used against any leftwing anti-Jewish parties (such as Shinui) or anti-Settler parties (such as Meretz), no matter how racist they might be considered, nor despite their attempts to remove the Jewish component from Israel’s definition as a Jewish and democratic state.
In short, the law is poorly written, it is selectively applied, and until the law is fixed, it’s problematic to have it applied to anyone, since it can be used against any political enemy.
The second and perhaps more important reason is that the Knesset dropped the ball.
IHH is designated a terrorist organization.
Zoabi was on the boat with a terrorist organization to break the Israeli government’s lawful blockade on a terrorist entity.
Why didn’t the Knesset do its equivalent of impeaching her?
Why did the government fail in its charges against her participation in the Mavi Marmara?
Simply because she claimed she was acting independent from the IHH! For heaven’s sake, why isn’t Zoabi sitting in jail?
But that’s only part of it.
The government dropped the ball, in another place. And perhaps not where you think.
The government also dropped the ball, because it still hasn’t fought the Supreme Court, and their self-assumed right to overrule any Knesset ruling they don’t like.
Until the Knesset decides to take a clear position that the Supreme Court is overstepping its bounds and taking on powers it doesn’t have, then the Knesset deserves every slap in the face it gets from the Supreme Court.
One of the most serious of problems that Israel faces is the unclear delineation and definition of powers, and that is specifically the Knesset’s job to define in law.
But they haven’t.
So instead, we have ridiculous situations like this, where we have a party and an individual who is in clear violation of the law, but because the Supreme Court doesn’t like that particular application of the law, it ignores it.
And we have a Knesset that is afraid or unable to stand up for its rights and say “We represent the democratic will of the people, and you, the Supreme Court, have overstepped your bounds of your mandate.”
Just like the Knesset was afraid to go all the way and impeach Zoabi, and just like Bishara actually continued to receive money from the Knesset for quite a while after his escape. The Knesset is afraid to properly deal with issues.
Other examples of this failure are the Women at the Wall, and the Reform Movement, and the rights of Jews to buy and own properties in Hebron.
And that leaves outside interested parties the ability to appeal to the Supreme Court and override the will of the people.
So I say, yes, if the Knesset isn’t willing to properly deal with Zoabi and put her in jail where I think she belongs, and it isn’t willing to deal with a runaway Supreme Court, then it gets what it deserves, and it deserves to have Zoabi as a member.
About the Author: JoeSettler blogs at The Muqata.blogspot.com and occasionally on his own blog at JoeSettler.blogspot.com.
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