Israel’s Supreme Court on Sunday ruled that Dr. Michael Ben-Ari, a candidate on the right-wing parties’ slate, will not be allowed to run in the upcoming Knesset elections. The same court also ruled that Ofer Cassif of the Arab party Hadash, and the Arab Ra’am-Balad slate are allowed to run.
The decision to disqualify Ben Ari was accepted by a majority of eight judges to one, as did the decision to allow Cassif and Ra’am-Balad to run. In addition, the judges decided unanimously to allow the Arab Hadash-Ta’al list to run in the coming elections.
Chairman of the National Union MK Bezalel Smotrich issued the following statement in response to the banning of Dr. Ben-Ari:
“This is the theater of the absurd in its most profound reincarnation, and an anticipated result from judges who more naturally belong in the Meretz court. Ofer Cassif, Tibi and Zoabi, supporters of terrorism every one, are in, but Ben Ari, a Zionist Jew whose sons serve in the IDF, is out.”
“This marks a total separation from the people. The judges will not be the ones to determine who will be elected! Only the people will decide. Only the right-wing parties’ union will stop the rampant judicial activism. Together with you, we will insist on the enactment of the overcoming clause [permitting a law to ignore a previously enacted constitutional law], and on the strengthening of governance with a variety of important new steps,” Smotrich stated, adding, “Ben-Ari may have been disqualified, but the people will give us the power to return the High Court to its real and natural size.”
Two weeks ago, the Knesset Elections Committee approved Ben-Ari’s run in the coming Knesset elections, despite the objection of Attorney General Mandelblit, who suggested Ben Ari incites to racism.
In a court hearing last week, Supreme Court Judge Uzi Fogelman criticized Ben Ari’s arguments, in which he objected, among other things, to Arabs moving to Afula, a mostly-Jewish city just north of the Arab triangle east of Hadera in central Israel.
Fogelman said that Ben-Ari did not distinguish between political enemies and Israeli citizens, accusing Ben Ari of dancing in a masquerade ball, hiding his true intentions against Israeli Arabs while pretending to aim only at enemies of Israel. Fogelman was asking why an Israeli Arab wishing to buy property in an Israeli city is an enemy.
Two weeks ago, the Knesset Central Elections Committee disqualified the Ra’am-Balad slate and Ofer Cassif, the only Jewish candidate in an Arab party, the communist Hadash, from running, contrary to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit’s position. The grounds for disqualification were the Arabs’ denial of Israel’s existence as a Jewish state, and in the case of Balad, support for terrorism.
Last week, during a hearing on the committee’s decision, Court President Esther Hayut referred to Casif’s statements, in which he compared Israel to the Nazis, Saying they were “very severe.”
Judge Yitzhak Amit added that Cassif’s opposition to the Law of Return is more serious than former MK Azmi Bishara, who has fled the country just ahead of being tried for espionage and treason – at least Bishara did not oppose the Law of Return, Amit said.
So Hayut somehow got over her trepidation…
Cassif said in response: “We are glad that justice has been done, as the Attorney General has already determined. I will continue to talk about ending the occupation and striving for peace and equality with my partners on the list, and I will continue to oppose racist and inflammatory discourse.”