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Posts Tagged ‘Attorney General’

Enemy of Settlements Picked for AG in Time for ‘Peace’ Enforcement

Sunday, November 24th, 2013

A civil servant named Shai Nitzan was appointed this morning to be Israel’s next Attorney General. No one would accuse Nitzan, who’s been serving as Deputy AG for some time, of being bad at his job. He is an excellent jurist by most people’s account.

Here’s the problem: Shai Nitzan has been a sworn enemy of National Religious Jews, most emphatically of those of them who reside in Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem. He is the brain daddy of preventive removal of Jews from their homes, not because of things they’ve done, but because of what he suspects they will do. He’s been known to pick up prominent rabbis for questioning based on their writings (See: Committee Recommends Another Leftist, Anti-Settlements AG).

Again, none of what he did in his various roles at the Ministry of Justice was illegal or even unethical, at least by Israeli standards. The curious part about his appointment is that it was done with the near-unanimous support of the Netanyahu government.

Three of the five parties that formed the current coalition government describe themselves as right wing, and certainly as friends of the settlement movement: Likud, Israel Beiteinu and Jewish Home. In any normal democratic system, where a correlation exists between the will of the voter and the direction of the government, Shai Nitzan would not have been proposed, much less approved for a position that gives him—literally—the power of life and death over a population of close to half a million people which he detests on ideological grounds.

In the democratic West, this kind of corruption of the will of the voter—and the settlement movement could share with you thousands of stories, believe me—is possible only in Israel. But this particular plot gets thicker.

Mk Avigdor Lieberman, boss of the Israel Beiteinu party, was recently acquitted by a panel of three magistrate court judges of all charges of political corruption. Liebrman had given up his ministerial office for the duration of his trial, and after the unanimous acquittal was reinstated. But it was decided that he couldn’t vote today, because the current AG, Yehuda Weinstein, hasn’t yet decided whether or not to appeal the acquittal. It seemed more ethical that way.

Except that the committee that recommended Shai Nitzan for the job was chaired by… AG Yehuda Weinstein.

In other words, a civil servant, Weinstein, can prevent an elected official from voting on his recommendation even though said public official is not only innocent until proved guilty – he is innocent by a unanimous court decision.

I emailed a Lieberman staffer for a comment on this bizarre situation, and he preferred to pass. They don’t need trouble.

Wait, there’s more. The search committee for these high level jobs normally comes back with two to three candidates. It’s a courtesy to the political echelon, but also a reflection of an honest effort to provide elected officials with ample choices. The fact that the Weinstein committee went with a single candidate was a dare to Netanyahu and to the right. And the whole country knew Bibi would blink first.

The folks at the State’s Attorney have dossiers on everyone, and some of the folks in government today, including Netanyahu, have already tasted what it’s like to be dragged like common criminals for questioning in police interrogation rooms. And as any person who’s ever delved into politics knows, there’s always something you did wrong.

The entire country knows that the miraculous transformation of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon from being the father of Jewish settlement in the liberated territories to the scourge of Gush Katif had to do with a case the civil servants were going to bring him down with, involving the 1999 Greek island scandal, millionaire developer David Appel and Sharon’s son Gilad.

This is why staunch opponents of Nitzan in the government, like Israel Beiteinu’s Yair Shamir and Israel Katz of Likud ended up voting in favor, and why Lieberman played nice and didn’t start trouble for AG Weinstein: they’re afraid of the State’s Attorney’s office and of the police.

Former Justice Minister Daniel Friedman, whom no one suspects of being a right winger, is to date the bravest reformer of the process by which judges, in all levels of the system, are chosen. His entire term in office was marked by bloody skirmishes between himself and the judicial system. His new, voluminous book, hot off the presses, titled “The Purse and the Sword,” is a well documented attack on his old nemesis, arguing quite successfully that Israel’s democracy is governed not by its elected officials, representatives of the voter—the only legitimate sovereign in a democracy—but by its jurists, led by the Supreme Court and the Attorney General (known here as the government judicial advisor, an innocent title that packs a lot of fang).

I plan to devote a great deal of time in coming days to Prof. Friedman’s book, because it points out Israel’s most severe threat to its democracy and independence. So much so, that I’ve been having a hard time deciding today which vote would bring more harm to the Jewish State, the 5+1 vote to greatly reduce the Iran sanctions, or the Shai Nitzan vote, which placed a staunch enemy of the settlements at the head of the system that may be issued, in a few months, with task of uprooting thousands of Jews from their homes.

Iran’s threat comes from the outside, and as such it may even have a positive effect on Israeli society, uniting it and enhancing its resolve. But the complete control the judiciary has gained over the other branches of government is a seeping cesspool of corruption that may decompose the country from within.

Showcase ‘Price Tag’ Indictments Turn Out to Be a Witch Hunt

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

A Jerusalem court has thrown out “showcase” indictments against three supposed “price tag” vandals and has hung another black cloud over the police and the office of the Attorney General, all of whom appear to be on a witch hunt.

The latest black eye for government prosecutors was dealt by Jerusalem Court Judge Avital Chen, who ruled there was no basis for charges that three youth from Samaria were planning to carry out some sort of attack  on Arab property.

The rejection of the government case came only a short time after a three-judge Jerusalem court unanimously ruled against the government’s charges of breach of public trust against Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who has been hounded on various charges for more than a decade.

Many rightwing leaders have charged that dozens of police arrests of supposed price tag vandals are an attempt to blame innocent people for crimes that they say are being carried out by Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) agents trying to make the nationalist movement look illegitimate.

Considering the increasing number and severity of price tag vandalism, the accusations against the Shin Bet sound like self-righteous paranoia.

On the other hand, leftwing activists have accused government prosecutors of purposely treating price tag vandals with soft gloves and failing to convict even one of them over the past three years. Given the proven cases of Arabs damaging their own olive orchards and then blaming Jews, it is not impossible to believe that the Palestinian Authority has ordered the “price tag” operations.

The indictments that were thrown out by the Jerusalem court are the first ones ever to be filed against supposed price tag vandals.

Three young Jewish boys were arrested in September 2011 while they were carrying tools, approximately 300 feet from a vehicle that was not theirs but in which police found bottles of gasoline. Police rejects the youth’s claims that they were using the tools for renovations on a nearby structure.

The police put one and one together and came up with what they thought was two. Government prosecutors at the office of the Attorney General also thought they had done their math and put together their first indictments that were supposed to show that they finally had the goods on price tag culprits.

The court also did its math and flunked the police and prosecutors.

Michael Ironi, a lawyer for the legal aid Honenu organization, said after the court decision, “It is a shame that the Attorney General’s office chose to conduct a trial against the defendants. From the beginning of the case the evidence seemed weak and circumstantial. The suffering caused to the defendants is also regrettable.”

Honenu attorney Rehavia Piltz, who assisted in handling the case, stated, “Even from the beginning it was obvious that much ado was being made out of nothing and now the court has confirmed. It is unfortunate that in the process leading to their exoneration the rights of innocent youths were severely injured over a long period of time.”

The chase after Lieberman and dozens of alleged price tag vandals, despite being unsuccessful, also has a price tag.

“For over two years our lives have been a nightmare,” said one of the youth who finally was exonerated.

“They kept us in remand under severe conditions and falsely accused us of serious crimes,” he added. “If we had not had a religious appearance and the police and the Attorney General’s office had not been so eager to achieve ‘accomplishments’ at the expense of tarnishing the reputation of an entire population, we would not have gone through such a difficult, tortuous legal battle over something we never did.”

Police arrested two of the youth shortly before the Rosh HaShanah holiday in 2011 and convinced the court to extend their remand on the eve of the holiday. The third youth was charged the day after the holiday.

The name of “hilltop youth” in Judea and Samaria  has been muddied with accusations that have never been backed up with indictments, until the “showcase” charges that proved to be unfounded.

Every time a nationalist looks the wrong way at the police or says a bad word about Peace Now, leftwing leaders and media scream “Rabin,”  continuing 18 years of slander against all national religious Jews, and particularly their rabbis, for the assassination of Yitzchak Rabin by Yigal Amir, who lived in metropolitan Tel Aviv and not in Judea and Samaria.

It is no secret that Shin Bet agents infiltrate into communities in Judea and Samaria to incite youth to break the law and then fall prey to being informers to save themselves from prosecution.

It is hard to believe the rightwing claims that Shin Bet agents have carried out all of the price tag attacks to undermine the nationalist movement.

But it also is hard to believe that police continue to harass youth, often with middle-of-the-night arrests, and prosecutors cannot come up with even one indictment that holds any water.

The only missing key in the puzzle is the failure of most national religious leaders to conduct a campaign in their communities and yeshivas to preach against violence and anti-Arab vandalism.

If Jews indeed are guilty of the vandalism and if the police and prosecutors cannot do a better job than they did after investing thousands of hours to nail Lieberman for nothing, something is rotten in the office of the Attorney General.

Rebels kill Attorney General and Judge in Hama

Monday, February 20th, 2012

The official Syrian news agency SANA reports that an armed “terrorist group” on Sunday assassinated General Attorney in Idleb Nidal Ghazal, Judge Mohammed Ziyadeh and their driver, on their way to the Palace of Justice in Hama.

The rebels opened fire on the car near Hussam Hijazi School at al-Dabeitt Neighborhood “causing their martyrdom with their driver.”

Earlier on Saturday, an armed group killed a member of Council of Aleppo City Jamal al-Bish at As-Safirah District in Aleppo.

Hama was the site of an earlier revolt against Hafez al-Assad, the current Syrian president’s father, in February 1982. The Syrian army was reported to have massacred as many as 40 thousand civilians to put down the uprising.

It’s Not About Freedom Of Torah Thought

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

When the recent spontaneous protests against the arrests of Rabbis Dov Lior and Yaakov Yosef gave way to official spin, the provocative initiators from the Attorney General’s office likely breathed a sigh of relief. Once again, the “enemy” had painted himself into a patently irrelevant corner, and the partisan justice system – growing public disgust with it notwithstanding – remained the only show in town.

 

When a small, radical cabal has unlimited sovereign power and uses it for its own unbalanced and callous ideological agenda, the responsible citizen cannot cooperate with the abomination. This is not an issue for rabbis only. Since the expulsion from Gush Katif, the Israeli justice system has designated itself as being on one unabashed side in Israel’s political debate. Every responsible person who understands this must conclude that it is no longer reasonable to cooperate with the system and lend it legitimacy. That is why I did not turn to the High Court when my election to the Likud roster for the Knesset was unceremoniously overturned.

 

“Refusal marks the borders of the coercive power of the majority,” wrote Professor David Henshekeh. This holds true for all types of government coercion that is deemed unreasonable by a large enough group willing to pay the price of its disobedience. This is not anarchy but rather the preservation of democracy in the face of the majority’s tyranny, or in our case the unelected minority’s tyranny that has taken control over the majority. The danger of anarchy – at least moral anarchy – lies at the doorstep of the regime. The responsible citizen who refuses to cooperate with the moral bankruptcy of the regime is actually protecting society from it.

 

But it doesn’t end here. Official spokespersons for the protests turned the latest struggle from a civil issue to a religious struggle; they portrayed the protests as a defensive battle fought by Torah adherents against the state that is “attempting to control it.” Not only is this claim unfounded, but it forces the average Israeli – his natural support for the settlers and disgust with the High Court notwithstanding – to stand behind Deputy State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan.

 

Let us imagine what would happen if a young rabbi would write a column in which he would prove (in his view) that according to Jewish law, we must slaughter sexual deviants. Isn’t it possible that a confused youngster might take his words seriously and run to slaughter people in the streets? Is the state supposed to ignore the danger only because it is wrapped in halachic garb? Let us imagine that the Attorney General’s office is fair and also investigates incitement from the Left. Let us further imagine that when rabbis are investigated, it is done with the honor they deserve. Isn’t it still viable to make the claim that the state must protect its citizens? Does the religious system have enough will and ability to exchange the existing regime for its own system?

 

When the protestors’ claim becomes religious, it is untenable at both ends. The state cannot conquer the Torah because it is the religious who have surrendered it. There is no national Torah to conquer. The only Sanhedrin that actually exists and makes its opinions heard in an authoritative manner is the “Sanhedrin” of the High Court.

 

On the divide’s other side, the Torah for which the protestors took to the streets is a contracted Torah. It is a Torah of exile that does not deviate from the realm of the individual, his family and community. The state has no interest in controlling this Torah. It is no coincidence that Professor Hillel Weiss’s attempts to institute a new Sanhedrin and to restore the Torah of national freedom to Israel were met by the religious establishment with a cold shoulder. It is no coincidence that this same establishment is fighting the process of return to the Temple Mount, to the Torah, and to sovereignty.

 

The average Israeli instinctively feels that the religious have nothing to offer, that they themselves do not relate to their Torah as relevant on the national plane. How can we expect him, as sympathetic to the cause as he may be, to jump off the High Court ship to the Torah ship that does not really exist – because of us?

 

Many people feel that this conflict will be resolved with internal demographics and the ongoing integration of religious youth into the army and other state institutions. But this is not a question of majority vs. minority. The struggle is not against the secular but rather against the exile mentality of the religious, against their lack of willingness to take responsibility for national leadership in the name of the Jewish value of liberty. As long as this conflict is not resolved, we can be a large majority – but the High Court rule will still be able to sleep soundly.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/its-not-about-freedom-of-torah-thought-2/2011/07/20/

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