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April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Kenneth Levin’

Israel’s Dictatorship Of The Judiciary

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Much of the Israeli Left – including cultural and political leaders, journalists and academics – has in recent months engaged in hyperbolic, defamatory claims that the government of Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to destroy Israel’s democracy through proposed legislation such as that aimed at modifying how Israeli Supreme Court justices are selected.

In fact, those arguments set truth on its head. Israel’s Supreme Court, and its judiciary more broadly, are the most anti-democratic elements of Israel’s governing bodies and perhaps the most anti-democratic court system in the Western democracies.

It was not some right-wing extremist who wrote in 2000, “I think that [then] Supreme Court President Aharon Barak has not, and does not, accept the rightful place that the court should have among the various authorities in our regime.… [Instead, he is seeking] to interject [into all areas of Israeli life] certain moral values as he deems appropriate. And this amounts to a kind of judicial dictatorship that I find completely inappropriate.” The words were those of former Supreme Court president Moshe Landau.

Barak’s appropriating to himself and his court extraordinary powers unique within Western democracies is illustrated by, for example, his declaring in 1992 that the new Basic Law established that same year conferred upon the Supreme Court the right to strike down any legislation it considers “unconstitutional.”

Israel has no formal constitution, meaning that Barak was essentially claiming for the Supreme Court the right to nullify any law it deems in violation of its own concept – more particularly, his own concept – of a proper Israeli constitution.

Barak proceeded to legislate from the bench under this appropriated power, and did so with a distinct leftist bias, very much in the post-Zionist mold then becoming the dominant fashion on Israel’s Left.

One illustration of this was his instructing Israeli jurists, in his Interpretation in Law (1994), that when confronted by what seems to them a conflict between “democratic” and particularist Jewish values, the judge “should act as the enlightened community would.” Barak then explains: “The metaphor of the ‘enlightened community’ focuses one’s attention on a part of the public. One’s attention is turned…to the educated and progressive part within it. What distinguished the enlightened community from the rest of the public?.… The enlightened community represents that community whose values are universalistic, and which is part of the family of enlightened nations.”

In effect – even putting aside the boldly elitist, anti-democratic thrust of the assertion that the views of only a particular segment of the population should shape legal interpretations – Barak is instructing jurists to be guided in their rulings by those Israelis who embrace the post-Zionist agenda and are eager to strip the nation and its institutions of all Jewish particularist meaning and content.

It is because of this leftist bias that any challenging of the Supreme Court’s abuse of democratic norms has outraged the Left and elicited twisted assertions of being an assault on democracy rather than an effort to rein in the judiciary’s overreaching.

Of course, whatever had been the Barak court’s particular political predilections, its arrogation of extraordinary powers to itself would have been equally anti-democratic, reprehensible and dangerous.

* * * * *

Barak’s successor, Dorit Beinisch, who just stepped down as Supreme Court president, shared Barak’s political views and his vision of the special powers of the Supreme Court. This is illustrated by, for example, her rulings last year relating to Peace Now activities in the West Bank.

Peace Now emerged in the late 1970s promoting the delusional claim that peace could be attained by Israel’s withdrawing, for all intents and purposes, to the pre-1967 armistice lines. Over the next decade and a half the organization drew many adherents among Israelis eager for peace and willing to embrace the fantasy that the source of the ongoing conflict with the Arab world was Israel’s presence in the territories. Peace Now and its followers provided the primary impetus to the Oslo debacle.

Even the unprecedented spike in terror that accompanied the initial years of the Oslo process did not awaken from its wishful reveries that half of Israel that supported Oslo. However, the terror war launched by Arafat in 2000, which claimed about 1,000 Israeli lives over the ensuing few years and horribly maimed thousands more, did rouse many from their delusions. Still others were led to rethink their fantasies by the rocket, mortar and missile assaults that have followed on the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza.

The great majority of Israelis now agree with the necessity of the nation’s retaining defensible borders and are supportive of settlements in strategically vital areas, and Peace Now’s following has dramatically diminished. One response by the true believers in the peace camp has been to shift their attack on the settlements from emphasis on their being obstacles to peace to claims of their having been built largely on privately owned Palestinian land – rather than exclusively on public, or state, land or Jewish-owned tracts – and are therefore illegal.

Ignoring Palestinian Calls For Genocide

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

If Palestinian leaders indoctrinate their people to pursue genocide and TheNew York Times doesn’t report it, is the indoctrination nevertheless of consequence?

In a recent poll of Palestinian opinion – conducted by Stanley Greenberg, leading pollster for the Democratic party, in conjunction with the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion, and sponsored by the Israel Project – 73 percent agreed with a quote from the Hamas charter on the need to kill all Jews.

Those who get their news on the Arab-Israeli conflict from the Times would likely be surprised and befuddled by this result. Alternatively, they might attribute it to hostility generated by Palestinians living with elements of self-government but, at least in the West Bank, that self-governance significantly short of full independence from Israel. Of course, the latter view makes little sense. Those who embrace it would very probably not expect, for example, that 73 percent of Tibetans wish to murder all Chinese, or 73 percent of the people of Darfur desire to kill all Sudanese Arabs; yet these groups live under considerably more onerous conditions than the Palestinians of the West Bank or Gaza.

In addition, the same poll revealed that only 34 percent of Palestinians questioned would accept the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel as a permanent solution to the conflict. Presumably, if the “occupation” were the source of Palestinians’ genocidal hostility, they would view attaining an independent state as the arrangement that would assuage that hostility. No doubt the people of Tibet and Darfur, as well as dozens of other populations around the world living under genuine occupation, would be delighted to be offered independence. Rather, 66 percent of Palestinians said that a two-state arrangement might be a starting point but that the Palestinian goal should be the annihilation of Israel.

In fact, Palestinian dedication to Israel’s destruction, and indeed to the annihilation of the Jews, would be of little surprise to anyone who has bothered to follow the agenda set by Palestinian leaders since Israel’s creation. Insistence on its destruction pre-dated Israel’s presence in the West Bank and Gaza, and calls for killing of all Jews is not only part of the Hamas charter. It has, for example, been a fixture of Palestinian Authority indoctrination – at times in cooperation with Hamas – virtually since the creation of the Palestinian Authority in 1994 and subsequent PA control over a large network of media, mosques and schools.

Yet, as central as the promotion of genocide is to Palestinian indoctrination, evasion of the issue is no less central to the Times’s misrepresentation of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. If there is any allusion to it in the Times, it is almost invariably to minimize its significance and even to ridicule Israeli concern about it.

Emblematic was a story by Times reporter William Orme in October 2000, shortly after Yasir Arafat had rejected Israeli concessions offered at Camp David, had likewise dismissed President Clinton’s additional proposed concessions, had offered no counter-proposals, and instead had launched his terror war against Israel. On October 13, the day after the lynching of two Israeli reservists in Ramallah, the official Palestinian Authority television station broadcast a sermon by Sheik Ahmad Halabaya in which the sheik declared:

“Whether Likud or Labor, Jews are Jews . They are the terrorists. They are the ones who must be butchered and killed, as Allah the almighty said: Fight them; Allah will torture them at your hands, and will humiliate them . Have no mercy on the Jews, no matter where they are, in any country. Fight them, wherever you are. Wherever you meet them, kill them. Wherever you are, kill those Jews and those Americans who are like them ”

Halabaya, in this official Palestinian Authority broadcast, also asserted that all of Israel properly belongs to the Arabs.

Orme, in his Times article published eleven days later, noted Israeli complaints of the PA’s using its official media for incitement, and his tone was clearly dismissive of Israel’s position.

He wrote at one point, “Israelis cite as one egregious example a televised sermon that defended the killing of two soldiers. ‘Whether Likud or Labor, Jews are Jews,’ proclaimed Sheik Ahmad Abu Halabaya in a live broadcast from a Gaza City mosque the day after the killings.”

That is all Orme said of the sermon – nothing about Halabaya’s exhortations to butcher Jews wherever one finds them, nothing about his assertions that all of Israel belongs to the Arabs, nothing about his invoking of Allah as calling for the torture and murder of the Jews.

Orme’s intent was obviously to make the Israeli complaints look unfounded and ridiculous.

The same is true now. The PA declares Israel illegitimate. It denies any historical connection between Jews and the land and insists Jews are simply usurpers in Palestinian lands. It teaches Palestinian children they must dedicate themselves to Israel’s destruction. It lauds murderers of Jews as models whom Palestinian children should aspire to emulate. It promotes the murder of all Jews. Often, PA president Mahmoud Abbas participates directly in this incitement.

And the indoctrination has consequences. As a generation of young Palestinians has grown up knowing only the PA’s education curriculum, and PA media and mosque incitement has shaped broader Palestinian opinion for almost two decades, the indoctrination has rendered the possibility of genuine peace only more remote. The recent poll cited above illustrates this inevitable reality.

But if Palestinian incitement to Jew-hatred and genocide has consequences, so, too, does the Times’s consistent failure to cover that incitement. It distorts readers’ understanding of the nature of the Palestinian-Israeli, and broader Arab-Israeli, conflict. In addition, as the Times remains in some respects America’s newspaper of record whose stances are regurgitated by myriad other news outlets, it inculcates belief in those distortions in a much wider audience.

Kenneth Levin is a psychiatrist and historian and author of “The Oslo Syndrome: Delusions of a People under Siege.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/ignoring-palestinian-calls-for-genocide/2011/09/27/

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