Last week, Israel’s media was possessed with the battle between Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and soon-to-retire Supreme Court Justice Miriam Na’or over the latter’s decision to forbid Justice Neal Handel from attending a state event in Gush Etzion marking the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Judea and Samaria. While many elected officials participated, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, Minister of Culture Miri Regev, Minister of Education Naftali Bennett, Knesset members and diplomats attended the event, Na’or argued it was too political to qualify as a genuine state event, seeing as it appealed only to the portion of the public that does not want the liberated territories returned to their original occupiers.
Except that on Tuesday morning Army Radio revealed that another Supreme Court Justice, Noam Sohlberg, a.k.a. the Settler Justice (he lives in Alon Shvut in Gush Etzion) did attend the ceremony, accompanies by his wife and daughters. Sohlberg, who, according to the Supreme Court’s seniority system is slated to become Court President in October 2018, is an observant Jew and known for citing Jewish law in his rulings. A moderate conservative, even anti-activist, he is considered a friend of rightwing causes, although he is widely appreciated as a brilliant and fair jurist.
According to the report, Sohlberg came dressed in a typical Israeli light attire and blended easily in the crowd at the ceremony, which was practically a walking distance from his house. He was not there in an official capacity but, nevertheless, was defying the court president’s order.
Recently retired Justice Elyakim Rubinstein, also an Orthodox Jew, told Army Radio he saw no problem in his former colleague’s attending the ceremony as a private person.