web analytics
November 24, 2014 / 2 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
IDC Herzliya Campus A Day on Campus

To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Israel’s Fickle Standards Of Free Speech


The eminent law professor Robert Bork once described the Israeli Supreme Court as the worst in the Western world. Israel, Bork wrote, “has set a standard for judicial imperialism that can probably never be surpassed, and, one devoutly hopes, will never be equaled elsewhere.”
 
Bork finds “less and less reason for the Israeli people to bother electing a legislature and executive; the attorney general, with the backing of the Supreme Court, can decide almost everything for them.”
 
Making matters worse, judges in Israel, including Supreme Court judges, are chosen by a non-elected panel dominated by other judges, and there are no possibilities for impeachment of judges by the parliament or by ballot initiative.
 
Israel’s Supreme Court has been dominated by the anti-democratic doctrine of “judicial activism” for a generation. In many cases its rulings are attempts to implement the leftist ideology of judges. The unelected justices of the Supreme Court claim the right, invented by them out of thin air, to overturn laws passed by the elected representatives of the people.
 
Not surprisingly, the Israeli Supreme Court is militantly aggressive in defending the liberties of Israeli Arabs and far leftists, but seems to have little interest in defending civil liberties, including freedom of speech, for others.
 
The court recently refused to review the decision of the Nazareth Appeals court in the long-running Plaut-Gordon lawsuit, in effect leaving the earlier decision by the Nazareth court in place. It took the Supreme Court nearly two years to decide not to review the earlier appeals court decision. Its refusal in essence formally establishes infringements on freedom of expression in Israel.
 
The Neve Gordon SLAPP suit filed against me, which began a decade ago, should have been summarily dismissed in the very first round of litigation.
 
Gordon is a far left academic who routinely calls for Israel to be eliminated and who insists Israel is a fascist, Nazi-like apartheid regime. He sued me because I’d accused him of being a “groupie” of the Israel-hating American academic Norman Finkelstein. I also denounced Gordon for serving as a human shield for wanted terrorist murderers and interfering with Israeli anti-terror operations.
 
His suit was assigned to an Arab judge whose husband was the right-hand party man of Azmi Bishara, the accused Israeli Arab spy now in hiding. She found for Gordon. In essence her verdict amounted to the rule that treason in Israel is protected speech but criticism of treason is libelous.
 
That lower court ruling was later reversed in the Nazareth Appeals Court, but Gordon was allowed to retain 10 percent of the damages the first judge had granted him. That 10 percent was based entirely on the use of the term “Judenrat-wannabe” in reference to Gordon’s activities.
 
I then filed a Supreme Court appeal. After dragging its feet, the Supreme Court panel of three judges (two Jewish and one Arab) decided there was insufficient constitutional or public interest in reviewing the Nazareth appeals ruling, in effect allowing it to stand. And, in effect, also preserving the suppression of freedom of speech contained in that verdict.
 
The Israeli Supreme Court once again refused to defend the “semi-constitutional” defenses of freedom of speech that are supposed to exist in Israel. In their ruling, the judges appeared not to have read my appeal, and so failed to note that the description of Gordon as a “judenrat-wannabe” that was deemed “libelous” was in fact a reference to Gordon’s serving as a human shield for wanted murderers and his illegal interference with Israeli military operations against terrorists.
 
For all intents and purposes, the Israeli Supreme Court re-established Israel’s status as a mere semi-democracy, one in which freedom of speech does not really exist, at least not for non-leftists.
 
The Supreme Court’s ruling established the principle that everyone in Israel may use “Holocaust-era imagery” in discourse, except for critics of the left. The Nazareth appeals court had ruled that my use of the term “judenrat” was not protected speech. Of course, routine denunciations by Israeli leftists and Arabs against Israel as a Nazi or fascist entity are protected speech.
 
The Supreme Court even ignored its own earlier ruling (Freij vs. Kol Hazman) that came out after the Nazareth Appeals ruling in Gordon-Plaut, which stated that use of Holocaust-era imagery in discourse actually is permitted in Israel, especially in political discourse.
 
            The opposition to democracy and freedom of speech in the Israeli legal community transcends court justices. In recent months we have seen repeated rounds of petitioning in favor of leftist causes signed by numerous professors and other faculty members in Israeli law schools. At the same time, it is all but impossible to find examples of law professors speaking out in favor of freedom of speech for non-leftists.
 
In short, Israeli law schools have become home to masses of law professors and other academics who are either fundamentally anti-democratic or too intimidated and cowardly to take a public stand in favor of freedom of speech.
 

Meanwhile, Israeli judges and leftists are campaigning against a Knesset proposal to require parliamentary approval of judicial appointments. They consider the idea preposterous. I mean, what does the Knesset think this is here, the United States?

 

 

Steven Plaut is a professor at the University of Haifa.His book “The Scout” is available at Amazon.comHe can be contacted at steveneplaut@yahoo.com.

About the Author: Steven Plaut is a professor at the University of Haifa. He can be contacted at steveneplaut@yahoo.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

One Response to “Israel’s Fickle Standards Of Free Speech”

  1. I hold Israelis in such high esteem that this is hard to hear. I want to think Israel as perfect….

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
View from a section of the Old City of Jerusalem.
2 Jews Stabbed by Arab Terrorists in Old City of Jerusalem
Latest Indepth Stories
Lewis-112114-Group

“We don’t just care for the children; we make sure they have the best quality of life.”

Jerusalem_engraving_by William Miller after H Warren

“Why do people get complacent with the things they’re told?”

David Ben-Gurion publicly pronounces the Declaration of the State of Israel, May 14 1948, Tel Aviv, Israel.

Arab opposition to a Jewish State of any size was made known by word and deed in the form of terror

beta-israel2

Operation Moses: First time in history that non-blacks came to Africa to free blacks from oppression

As Arabs murder and maim Jews, Jordan’s leaders bark the blood libel of “Israeli aggression.”

Perhaps attacking a terrorist’s legacy broadly and publicly would dissuade others from terrorism?

R’ Aryeh yelled “Run, I’ll fight!” Using a chair against terrorists to buy time so others could flee

Riot started when Muslim students wore the Pal. kaffiyeh and Druze students demanded them removed

The “Media” didn’t want us to know what a kind, giving, loving young woman Dalia was.

A “Palestine” could become another Lebanon, with many different factions battling for control.

Maimonides himself walked and prayed in the permissible areas when he visited Eretz Yisrael in 1165

Having a strong community presence at the polls shows our elected officials we care about the issues

Israel’s Temple Mount policy prefers to blames the Jews-not the attackers-for the crisis.

When Islam conquered the Holy Land, it made its capital in Ramle of all places, not in Jerusalem.

I joined the large crowd but this time it was more personal; my cousin Aryeh was one of the victims.

Terrorists aren’t driven by social, economic, or other grievances, rather by a fanatical worldview.

More Articles from Steven Plaut
In this photo are seen the four main papers in Israel

The bill is the initiative of Knesset Member Eitan Cabel from what is left of the Israeli Labor Party.

Opponents of competition and free speech on the left and right are trying to destroy the popularity of the Yisrael Hayom newspaper.

The ostensible basis for the banning of Israel Hayom is that it is distributed for free.

Israel’s weenie gov’t refuses to pass law requiring instant execution of ALL terrorists at the scene

Conspiracism is a form of paranoid delusion taking over the entire lives&personalities of believers

The Israeli left, led by tenured academics, endorses pretty much anything harmful to its own country

Though secular, Hitman’s CV includes writing music for, recording, and popularizing religious songs.

Emigration from Israel is at an all-time low, far lower than immigration to Israel from Europe.

Israel offered Syria the entire Golan Heights, only to find that the Syrians were demanding MORE!

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/israels-fickle-standards-of-free-speech/2011/08/24/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: