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January 22, 2017 / 24 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘court’

The Rabbi and the Court

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

{Originally posted to the author’s website, Abu Yehuda}

Some years ago I was in New York for my brother’s wedding. On Shabbat we went to a convenient synagogue (a Chabad shul), and the rabbi held a little study session before the service. The subject was parashat ki tetse, and in particular he talked about the part that explains what you should do when you take a beautiful woman captive in war.

In the context of a world where enslavement and rape of captive women was standard operating procedure, the Torah (Deut. 10.10 – 10.14) demands  a  different form of behavior. Before having relations with her, her captor is required to take her into his house for a month, and not before the end of that time, marry her. She is to cut her nails and hair (presumably to reduce her superficial attractiveness) and is given time to mourn relatives that were killed in the battle. If he later decides that he doesn’t want to marry her, he must set her free; he is not permitted to enslave or sell her.

Possibly this is not a 21st century feminist position, but it was extraordinarily progressive in biblical times. It clearly prevents the use of rape as a weapon, which is unfortunately quite common today in conflicts around the world.

I admit that I don’t remember exactly what the Chabad rabbi said that day, but I’m sure he did not say that the Torah condones rape in wartime, as Rabbi Eyal Karim, the nominee for the post of Chief Rabbi of the IDF has been accused of saying.

Rabbi Karim was asked in 2002 (Hebrew link) whether it was acceptable to rape a non-Jewish woman in wartime. The question clearly referred to “rape” and asked whether the opinion of “some sages” that one could skip the month-long procedure found in the Torah was correct.  The question was clear, but unfortunately Karim’s answer was not. He explained the reasons that war was a special situation, and gave examples of things that were permitted during war – consuming non-kosher food or wine – that were normally forbidden. He continued that relations with non-Jewish women were in this category, under the conditions that they are allowed.

The problem is, what conditions are these? Did he mean the month-long waiting period as prescribed by the Torah? Was he saying that the special situation of wartime was such that a soldier could have relations with a non-Jewish woman – normally forbidden – if he took her home and married her a month later? Or did he mean that the “some sages” who said the waiting period could be skipped were correct? He did not elucidate.

I want to note at this point, that he did not say that a woman could be raped to satisfy the soldiers’ evil inclination, as his statement was maliciously mistranslated by Ynet.

After reading and rereading the question and his answer numerous times, I concluded that his answer was either a boilerplate response that did not speak to the actual question, or a deliberately vague answer to evade a question whose direct answer he knew would be politically unpalatable.

Ten years later (2012), after his remarks were noted and created a furor, he issued a clarification (Hebrew link), in which he at last said unequivocally that rape in battle was forbidden, and referred to the month-long procedure described in the Torah.

Although in the context of the original question, I would have to interpret his initial answer as suggesting that rape in war is in fact permissible, the clarification establishes that either he did not intend this at first, or that does not believe it now.

I must also note that even if he had not issued the clarification, there are other mitigating arguments in his favor. For one, many of the harsh pronouncements in the Torah have been canceled by the rabbis throughout the years; who stones a disobedient son or tortures a woman suspected of adultery today? And there is a difference between biblical exegesis and practical advice: soldiers do not take prisoners of war home and marry them.

Fast forward to July 2016, when Rabbi Karim was selected to become the new Chief Rabbi of the IDF. Objections were raised to his appointment on the basis of this and other statements he made that were deemed misogynistic or biased against sexual-preference or gender minorities. But Karim satisfied (the secular) Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot that his opinions on these subjects were acceptable for an IDF rabbi, and the Defense Minister agreed. After all, we are talking about an Orthodox rabbi, not a social activist.

But that wasn’t enough for the anti-religious Left, as personified by the Meretz party. They petitioned Israel’s Supreme Court to stop Karim from being sworn in on Wednesday, and the court agreed and issued an unprecedented injunction delaying his appointment “pending an affidavit from Karim on his past and current views on wartime rape and the role of women in the military.” The Court actually believes it has the right to define and enforce correct thought – in a rabbi no less!

The army acquiesced and canceled the swearing-in ceremony.

The Court, which in essence appoints its own justices and is not accountable to any other body, accepts no limits on what it can adjudicate. It does not require a petitioner to have standing (that is, he or she doesn’t have to be directly affected by the case). In short, anyone, any time, can ask the Court to take action about almost anything. And the Court isn’t shy about taking action.

The Left, having been emasculated at the ballot box, now uses the Court to achieve its aims. Recently it controversially stuck its nose into diverse issues like the proposal to develop offshore natural gas resources, a law to regulate foreign-funded NGOs, and a proposed law to compensate Arabs with claims to land on which parts of Jewish settlements stand. In every case it leaned leftward.

But interfering with the appointment of an IDF rabbi on the basis of his opinions is something new entirely.

Nobody wants to directly challenge the Supreme Court and appear to be opposed to the rule of law and the independent  judiciary, two pillars of democracy. But the Left and their legal allies may have gone too far this time. If the court can interfere in the appointment of a rabbi by the Chief of Staff, what else can it interfere in? Should it have a veto over other military appointments? Next it will decide to replace the Prime Minister!

The State Attorney’s Office said on Tuesday that the Court has no ground on which to intervene in this appointment. But there are no rules except the ones the Court makes for itself.

What is needed is a Basic Law that defines the functions and powers of the Court. Such a law should specify a way of selecting the justices so that they will represent more than one narrow ideological segment of Israeli society. It must include appropriate checks and balances so that the Court can’t become a dictator in the name of democracy.

This should happen soon, because our system is already suffering from Court-induced paralysis.

Vic Rosenthal

MK Glick to Petition High Court Against Netanyahu Temple Mount Obstruction

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

Rebellion in the Likud ranks: On Wednesday, MK Yehuda Glick announced his plan to petition the Supreme Court against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the latter’s barring of Knesset members and cabinet ministers from ascending too the Temple Mount, Srugim reported. The prohibition has taken effect close to the start of the current wave of terror, dubbed “the Al Aqsa intifada” by the Arabs, who claim to have started the violence in response to a Jewish conspiracy to destroy the Temple Mount mosque.

A suit by a rank and file MK against the leader of his party is extremely rare. Should Glick persist with his petition he is likely to be sanctioned by his Knesset faction, the Likud, and be barred from speaking from the podium and submitting bills. He might also be dismissed from the Knesset, should the leadership be able to enlist sufficient support from the members. He could also be tried by the Likud internal court.

Before assuming the legislator’s mantle, Glick made his living as tour guide on the Temple Mount, and in October 24 was the victim of an assassination attempt because of his promotion of Jewish access to the holy site.

This is the second time Netanyahu has blocked MKs from entering the sacred compound. During the 19th Knesset, the PM prevented MKs Uri Ariel and Shuli Mualem (Habayit Hayehudi) and Moshe Feiglin and Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) from ascending. The reason Glick is irate this time is the fact that Jerusalem police have announced they no longer see the need to stop MKs from entering the Temple Mount, but Netanyahu persists in his refusal to open the gates to them.

When he became a member of Knesset, about half a year ago, Glick justified the prohibition, which was pinned on attempts by Arab MKs to stir up riots on the Temple Mount. The last time Glick has been to the site was on the day before his swearing in as MK.

David Israel

Court Rejects Freedom of Information Request to Shield Archeologists from BDS Attacks

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

The Jerusalem District Court on Monday rejected a petition filed by two extreme-left, anti-Zionist NGOs, Yesh Din and Emek Shaveh, against the Archeology Department of the IDF Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria, demanding to know the names of archeologists working in digs around the liberated territories. District Court Judge Yigal Marzel ruled that publicizing their names would expose these archeologists to academic boycotts as well as possibly sabotage Israeli government archeological projects in Judea and Samaria.

Judge Marzel accepted the State’s argument that the archeologists, who testified in a separate hearing without the petitioners’ presence, would be exposed to academic boycotts should their names be published. Such boycotts could prevent the archeologists from publishing their findings in international academic journals, and they could be shunned by their foreign peers, seriously damaging their professional careers.

Judge Marzel ruled that the potential personal harm to the archeologists and their research justifies concealing their names. A few of the archeologists who testified consented to have their names be revealed to the petitioners, and they were.

The court sided with the State regarding the petitioners’ request for information on the location of the discovered archeological finds, accepting the argument that such exposure could lead to the theft of the artifacts.

The court also rejected the petitioners’ demand to review the list of artifacts the Israel Antiquities Authority has lent out for exhibition. Judge Marzel also refused to compel the IAA to hand over the records of specific digs, Tel Batir and Tel Shiloh, in Judea and Samaria.

The court did side with the petitioners’ demand to receive a list of the digs in Judea and Samaria, as well as the dates of their completion an future plan for their use.

Yesh Din’s annual budget, based on its 2014 report to the Israeli Registrar of Non-Profits, is $1,565,000. Its donors include the EU, the UK, Human Rights and International Law Secretariat (joint funding from Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark and the Netherlands), Norwegian Refugee Council, Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD), HEKS (Switzerland), Norway, Ireland, Germany, and Oxfam-Novib (Netherlands).

Emek Shaveh’s annual budget, also based on a 2014 report to the Israeli Registrar of Non-Profits, is $246,225. Its donors include Switzerland (FDFA – Swiss Foreign Ministry), HEKS (Switzerland), Cordaid (Netherlands), Norway, Ireland, Oxfam GB (UK), CCFD-Terre Solidaire (France), and Oxfam Novib (Netherlands).


Responding to Meretz Petition, State Tells Court Rabbi Karim Does Not Believe in Raping Enemy Women

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

The State on Tuesday responded to a petition served by Meretz against the appointment of Rabbi Eyal Karim as IDF Chief Rabbi, saying the Chief of Staff has picked Karim believing he is the right man at the right time for the job — based on his abilities, knowledge and military background.

Col. Rabbi Eyal Moshe Karim, head of the Rabbinate Dept. at the IDF Military Rabbinate, also served as commander of the paratrooper division’s special forces. In July he was picked by Chief of Staff Gabi Eizenkot to become IDF Chief Rabbi. But then the Israeli media discovered a few “controversial” legal opinions authored by Karim in the online Orthodox news website Kipa. Written as halakhic responsa, Karim’s passages included a reference to the status of a captive enemy woman in time of war, which the Torah deals with from within the socio-political milieu of the second millenium BCE. He also discussed the halakha’s view on women’s military service and on homosexuality.

Needless to say, Karim’s opinions, written some 14 years ago in the context of a discussion involving Orthodox readers, did not go down well with Israeli leftwingers such as Meretz Chairwoman Zehave Galon. Meretz appealed the appointment to the Supreme Court, which suspended it pending an explanation regarding the differences between Israel 3,000 years ago and today.

In its response on Tuesday, the State noted that Rabbi Karim’s responsa were prefaced with a proviso that these are not his legal rulings but rather his review of rabbinical law. Regarding the fact that the Torah permits nonconsenting sex with a captured enemy woman in time of war, the State assured the court that Rabbi Karim does not espouse this as a policy to be followed by IDF soldiers nowadays.

MK Motti Yogev (HaBayit HaYehudi) told Israel Radio on Tuesday that the Supreme Court once again overstepped its boundaries by rudely intervening in IDF appointment decisions. Yogev noted that so far the court has fought the legislative and executive branches and now has added the IDF to its list of targets. Yogev called on his colleagues in the Knesset to find way of stopping the court from uninvited interference in halakhic discussions.

Rabbi Karim is expected to start serving as IDF Chief Rabbi on Thursday, unless the court continues to block his appointment.

David Israel

Rabbi Berland in Court: I Deserve Burning and Stoning for my Sins

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

The Jerusalem Magistrate Court on Tuesday convicted the leader of the Shuvu Banim (Return boys) movement, Rabbi Eliezer Berland, 79, of two counts of indecent assault and one count of assault and sentenced him to 18 months in prison. The conviction follows a plea agreement in which Berland admitted to some of the charges against him in return for a reduced sentence. The time Berland spent in a South African prison will be deducted from his sentence.

In addition, Berland will pay $6,467 in compensations to the women whose complained against him was cited in his indictment, and the same amount to another woman whose complaint was not included.

Before his sentencing, Berland expressed his remorse before the judge, saying that according to Torah law he deserved to be burned and stones for his sins, but “today the times have changed and the punishments have become lighter.” Judge Yaron Mintkevich said he would honor the plea deal, but had it been up to him, in light of the severity of Berland’s crimes, he would have sentenced him separately on every single one of them.

The prosecution cited Berland’s advanced age to justify his exceedingly light sentence.

Several women have reported that Rabbi Berland raped them, others complained of sexual harassment. In 2012, one of Berland’s students discovered him standing over a naked woman at home. Berland’s followers claimed the accusations had been made by the rabbi’s enemies.

Berland fled Israel once the first allegations had been made public, and sought temporary shelter in the US, Italy, Switzerland, and Morocco, where he stayed in Marrakech. In November 2013, Moroccan King Mohammed VI personally ordered Berland’s expulsion, following news report about the allegations against him.

He left for Cairo, Egypt, continued to Zimbabwe, then flew to Johannesburg, South Africa. He then returned to Zimbabwe, and became the spiritual leader of a synagogue in Khumalo. He was expelled after his visa had expired, and returned to Johannesburg.

Dutch police arrested Berland in September, as he was getting off a flight from Johannesburg to Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, but he fled and eventually landed back in South Africa.

A few dozen of Berland’s followers demonstrated outside the court on Tuesday and when their leader was being led out of the courtroom they blocked traffic and refused to let the patrol car with him in it leave.


Report: Trump Connected to Hasidic Court Whose Founder Lived in Gold Palace

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

If you had to find the one Hasidic Rebbe that would attract President Elect Donald Trump’s attention, it would have to be Reb Israel Friedman of Ruzhin (1796-1850), “Der Heiliger Ruzhiner.” The Ruzhiner Rebbe lived in a palace with splendid furnishings, rode in a silver-handled carriage drawn by four white horses and with an entourage, dressed like a nobleman, wore a golden yarmulke and clothing with solid-gold buttons, and was attended by servants in livery. This very unusual manner was actually accepted and even praised by many of his contemporaries, who believed that the Ruzhiner was elevating God’s glory through himself, the tzadik.

Turns out that of all the ultra-Orthodox leaders Trump could connect with, he picked an heir of the Ruzhiner, the Rebbe of Boyan, Rabbi Nachum Dov Brayer, an American Rebbe who made aliyah as a teenager and has been leading the Boyan movement since 1985. According to the website B’Hadrei Haredim, Donald Trump has been a heavy donor to the Ruzhin-Boyan Tiferet Israel yeshiva in Jerusalem.

The President Elect, whose daughter Yael (Ivanka) is possibly the most renowned convert to Orthodox Judaism in recent years—and visited the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s graveside on the Saturday night prior to the election, has maintained his own ties with the Boyanner Hasidim, including attending their events, donating to their appeals and buying up pages in their journals.

Hadrei Haredim on Wednesday cites a Boyan Hasid who said that it is clear Trump is “connected to the heart of the Jewish people and there’s no doubt he is one of the righteous among the gentiles who will bring only good things to the nation dwelling in Zion.”

It should be noted that, despite his reputation for a palatial life, Der Heiliger Ruzhiner was known for his ascetic personal demeanor. A famous tale relates how one winter night, after standing outdoors to sanctify the New Moon wearing his solid-gold boots studded with diamonds, the Ruzhiner’s Hasidim noticed blood on the snow where he had been standing. They discovered that the extravagant boots had no soles, and so, when the Rebbe walked outside, he was actually barefoot. This is when people realized that the Rebbe’s lifestyle was meant solely for the sake of Heaven.


Shiloh Musings: Israeli Supreme Court, When “Independent” is UNJUST

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016

So what is the big hullabaloo between Israeli Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked and Supreme Court President Miriam Naor all about?

One of the big issues in Israel is that the Supreme Court is very much “friend brings friend.” It’s a Leftist bastion that easily preserves its ideological purity. Breaking that monopoly is an aim of Shaked and her party, Jewish Home aka NRP. It’s also important to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and many others in Israel’s Right and Center, which is why she got that portfolio.

On one of the Israeli newscasts about the issue, I heard someone who wants to preserve the status quo shouting that it exists to preserve the “court’s independence.” Now, if you don’t know what they mean by “independence,” you may think they have a point.

The dangerous thing that the pro-status quo people mean by that is that they do not make their decisions based on the laws passed in the Knesset.  And remember that the Knesset is made up by representatives of political parties voted in by the citizens of the State of Israel. The justices in the Israeli Supreme Court consider their “consciences,” their ideologies to be the sources of their decisions. They do not make their judgments by interpreting the Laws, but by bending them into their concept of their Leftist Utopian vision.

If Ayelet Shaked gets her way, then the Knesset will appoint justices more representative of Israel’s population and not the Leftist elite of today which considers itself the overseer of Israeli Law and values, even going against laws which they don’t like.

Batya Medad

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/shiloh-musings/shiloh-musings-israeli-supreme-court-when-independent-is-unjust/2016/11/08/

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