web analytics
July 1, 2015 / 14 Tammuz, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


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.

Current Top Story
Future guard? Arab child with Hamas headband aims toy rifle on the Temple Mount after prayers in the Al Aqsa mosque.
Shin Bet Foils Nascent Hamas Coup in Palestinian Authority Territories
Latest Indepth Stories
Bibi Scores points on Soccer Field NOT Temple Mount

Rather than asserting Jewish rights on Temple Mount or protecting Jewish lives Israel chooses soccer

Mahmoud Abbas trying to see if he has supporters on the UN Security Council.

Nothing in the NEW Paris Proposal differs much from what was offered by Olmert and rejected by Abbas

Matan Katzman. regional executive at the StandWithUs

No longer will delegitimization efforts go unchallenged. That’s a silence we will continue to break.

Flag of Sweden

Increasingly, Sweden is becoming a country where anti-Semitism & supporting terrorism is acceptable.

Rabbi Pfeffer points out that at his site, there are no one-line answers. “We want to show the people we’re interested in their questions,” he says.

The problem with US treatment of Israel did not start with Obama but with birth of Jewish State

The pathetic failure of the Marianne to reach Gaza is the best thing that has happened to Israel since Hamas mis-fired a rocket on its own civilians.

Wonder why Israel has the world’s most insane rules of engagement imposed on its military? Read on..

Think political Islam’s a problem now just wait until an Islamist nuclear umbrella covers the region

Fiorina’s wrong about Islam which embraces our death&destruction confusing pc theories for hard fact

Bangladesh PM Hasina is fighting terror not only for her nation but for the entire civilized world.

No necessity to redefine marriage, just address equal rights for couples in non-nuclear families

PM Netanyahu has pledged the nation won’t rest until the hero Eli Cohen is returned home to Israel

“Palestinian armed groups” & “local authorities” are named in the report; Hamas’ absence stands out

Dating apps have really changed the way many young Jews approach dating.

The families of those slain even publicly forgave the murderer. Charleston was serene and at peace.

More Articles from Steven Plaut
Tel Aviv University Insignia

Ronen Shamir’s just the latest tenured Leftist convicted of sexual misconduct with his own student

The Vatican

It is time to acknowledge Alaric I and his descendents, as the true & rightful rulers of the Vatican

“If I were a Shaheed, yababa-deidledie, all day long I’d detonate for fun, if I were a Shaheed guy”

British archeologists just uncovered a statement from 1938 supporting BDS of Czechoslovakia (humor)

Israel’s media waged jihad against Bibi before the election, nakedly promoting Herzog and Labor

No matter what rick or contrivance the Left tried, it didn’t help. And tried they did!

– When income becomes too equitable, there are no incentives to work hard and take risks and innovate.

The Israel Prize, the nation’s premier prize, is awarded in a range of areas for various disciplines

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: