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September 17, 2014 / 22 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘High Court’

Knesset Debates Haredi Service After Tal Law Annulled

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

In the wake of yesterday’s landmark decision by Israel’s High Court of Justice to declare the Tal Law unconstitutional, the Knesset was left to deal with the fallout – and proceeded to reject two Kadima-sponsored bills that sought to legislate mandatory military or national service for all Israeli citizens.

The Tal Law, enacted in 2002, was intended to promote enlistment of Haredi men in the IDF by exempting draft-age yeshiva students from military service for a prescribed period of time. In a 6-3 ruling, the High Court determined that the law is unconstitutional and cannot be extended by the Knesset in its present form when it expires on August 1. The Tal law is a temporary law that must be renewed every five years.

And so the Knesset convened Wednesday to deliberate on one of the most controversial and polarizing issues in Israel today. Kadima was the first party to offer its vision for an alternative to the Tal Law, saying that it proposed both bills “to promote equality between all sectors in shouldering the national effort.” The National Service bill, which was proposed by MK Yoel Hasson and would have required ultra-Orthodox Jews and Arabs to perform national or military service, was rejected by a vote of 55 – 27. MK Nachman Shai proposed the other bill – the Defense Service bill, which was rejected by a vote of 40 – 23.

Kadima has increasingly cast itself as the leader in the crusade to end what it describes as preferential treatment for the Haredi demographic. Chairwoman Tzipi Livni continued to bemoan the status quo in the aftermath of the High Court decision: “This injustice has been perpetuated for far too long. No one has a monopoly on prayer.”

“It’s time we stopped lying to ourselves,” she lamented, “the IDF is no longer the ‘people’s army’ and we didn’t need the High Court of Justice to tell us that the burden isn’t distributed equally.

“For years we have been trying to reach an agreement and for years, Haredi politicians have been abusing the weaknesses shown by the other politicians here,” she continued. “It is time to say – enough is enough. It is time we changed the rules of the game once and for all.”

Livni, seeking to head off charges that she is promoting divisiveness and an anti-religious platform, insisted that the bills were proposed “for the unity of Israel. We don’t want an internal strife but we won’t relent – we will meet you with love but we will also meet you with draft orders, either for the IDF or for civic and national service. There is no choice. You must serve beside us…You will still pray – in the IDF, in the police, in the Fire Department and in hospitals…This miscarriage of justice – draft dodging – has been going on for too long.”

The decision to revoke the Tal law has been widely and predictably denounced by religious parties, while Prime Minister Netanyahu released a statement Tuesday, saying: “As I stated even before the High Court of Justice decision, the Tal Law in its current format will not be continued, and in the coming months we will formulate a new law that will lead to a more just change in the burden of all sectors of Israeli society.”

Foreign Minister and Yisrael Beteinu head Avigdor Lieberman pledged that his party will also propose an alternative to the Tal Law whereby “everyone will serve the state.”

“I have no expectation of seeing masses of Haredim and minorities suddenly flooding the air force cadets’ course or being placed in the elite units, but they can certainly join the national effort. I see no reason why a Haredi man can’t sit in front of a computer in the army and make his contribution or be part of the national service.”

In a possible veiled threat to the Prime Minister, Lieberman said that the High Court decision “helps the coalition understand it finally has to take decisions rather than waffle.”

Analysts and politicians alike have speculated that the matter of Haredi deferment and exemption from military/national service is the one issue that could cause Netanyahu’s heretofore stable coalition to fall apart. Shas, the largest ultra-Orthodox party in the coalition, appeared to be seeking to allay such concerns. When asked if the coalition will be threatened by the ruling, Shas Party spokesman Yakov Betzalel responded: “No, no, no. I don’t see it in the offing.” Still, the coalition seems headed for difficult days ahead, as Betzalel expressed confidence that Haredi males would be able to continue their Yeshiva study, and predicted that a new law would be passed that would reflect “minor changes” to the current law. “From my experience, the ultra-Orthodox community will not accept even short-term enlistment…but let’s see what will happen.”

See also: Journalist: Secular Fear of Haredim Drove Court’s Rule on Service Deferments

State to Israeli High Court: Boycott Law Constitutional

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Deputy Attorney-General Uri Keydar, representing the State on the issue of the constitutionality of the recently-passed Boycott Law, wrote that the law is constitutional even though it limited freedom of expression because it was narrowly tailored to specific calls for boycotts.

The state set out its position before the High Court of Justice Tuesday in response to three petitions asking the court to revoke the legislation.

The law, which was passed in July 2011, grants Israeli targets of public boycotts the right to seek financial redress for damages in court. The law also empowers the finance minister to prohibit entities supporting boycotts from participating in state tenders.

The petitioners claim that the law is unconstitutional because it violates the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty by stifling freedom of expression, with specific concern for criticism of government policies and actions in Judea and Samaria.

“The law does not prevent anyone from publishing a public call for the government to alter its policies in regard to Judea and Samaria as part of any opposition to government policy in that region,” Keydar wrote in response.

3 Likud Ministers Oppose Likud Bill Authorizing Migron Outpost Community

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

Likud ministers Benny Begin, Michael Eitan, and Dan Meridor staunchly opposed a bill presented at the Likud ministers’ meeting Sunday morning that would legalize outposts in Judea and Samaria.

The proposed bill states that if a land owner in Judea or Samaria fails to take legal action within four years of the moment a home is built on his land, the structure will not be torn down. In such cases, the landowner will receive other forms of compensation.

The three ministers implored Prime Minister Netanyahu to demolish Migron in accordance with the High Court’s ruling.

Israeli High Court of Justice Rejects Petitions Against ‘Citizenship Law’

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

By a vote of 6-5 late Wednesday night, the High Court rejected petitions against the 2003 law limiting the reunification of Palestinian and Arab-Israeli couples.

Judge Asher Grunis, poised to become the next President of the Israeli Supreme Court, led the majority, writing that “Human rights are not a prescription for national suicide.”

The 2003 law states that the interior minister may grant citizenship ” if he is convinced that the applicant  identifies with the State of Israel and its goals, and that he or his family performed a significant act to promote the security, economy or some other important matter of the State.”

Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch and four other dissenting justices described the freedom to marry as being at the core of democratic principles.

“The blow, as presented, to family life must be viewed against the certain harm, given past experience, to the lives and bodies of Israelis,” Grunis wrote, in anticipation of their argument.

 

 

High Court of Justice: Residents of Judea & Samaria Can Serve on Supreme Court

Monday, January 9th, 2012

The High Court of Justice on Sunday rejected a petition contesting the appointment of Jerusalem District Court Judge Noam Sohlberg to the Supreme Court. The court ruled that Sohlberg’s status as a resident of a community in Judea does not affect his fitness to be appointed to the bench.

Yesh Gvul, a leftist organization opposed to a Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria, claimed that Sohlberg’s residence in the community contravenes international law, and as a result, his appointment was “invalid and must be canceled.”

Presiding judge, Isaac Amit, wrote: “I checked the Basic Law: The Judiciary . . . and nowhere did I find that [Sohlberg's] residence in Alon Shvut constitutes a hindrance to his serving as a judge.”

Israeli medical residents agree to return to negotiations

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

Israeli medical residents, who have been on strike for months, with many of them going as far as tendering their resignations, have agreed to return to the negotiating table today.

The two latest sticking point between the residents and the Finance Ministry is the duration of the agreement they are working on, during which time the residents won’t be allowed to strike again, and that residents will need to sign in and out on employee time clocks, a condition originally agreed upon between the Israel Medical association (IMA) and the Finance Ministry in August during the doctor’s strike that preceded this one.

The Finance Ministry wants the residents to sign an agreement for 9 years to prevent a reoccurrence of these strikes in the near future, while the residents want the agreement to last no more than 3 years.

The residents, unhappy with the original agreement their IMA representatives signed off on demanded “social justice” for doctors and decided at that time to continue their protest, strike independently and even resign en masse.

The National Labor Court declared these mass resignations illegal.

Last week, the High Court of Justice ordered the residents back to work while they continued negotiations, but the residents refused to listen to the High Court’s order.

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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