If perchance he had been previously unaware that Supreme Court President Asher Grunis is a tough cookie, Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman discovered this week that Grunis is prepared to publicly defend his principles, even if it necessitates the public berating – in the Supreme Court building, of all places – the minister of justice.

Usually the swearing-in ceremony of newly appointed judges takes place at the official residence of the president of the State. Once in awhile it takes place in the Supreme Court building – albeit not inside the courtroom. It was entirely appropriate that this week’s swearing-in ceremony for 17 new judges take place in the Supreme Court building because this was the first time that Grunis, who has been in his post for less than two months, would be sharing the dais with Neeman and with President Shimon Peres at a ceremony of this kind.

The ceremony provides an opportunity for all three dignitaries to spice the traditional platitudes with whatever topic is weighing on their minds. Grunis was cheesed off with Neeman for trying to push through a Basic Law bill in which one of the clauses would enable a majority of at least 65 of the 120 Knesset members to revive a law that had been ruled out by the High Court of Justice. Grunis disagreed with Neeman over requiring a narrower majority than the 70-vote majority that Neeman had recommended eight years ago when, in a non-ministerial capacity, he had headed a public committee that brainstormed about the subject. Grunis was also angry that Neeman had, on the eve of Passover, circulated a draft memorandum that had been formulated without any input by members of the Supreme Court. Neeman had been seeking to strengthen the Supreme Court by giving it the right to void any legislation that conflicted with Basic Law. But at the same time, he was moving to give the Knesset power that would allow it to disregard – and even override – the ruling of the court. The proposed bill in its present format, said Grunis, was very problematic and required in-depth discussion between all the relevant parties. He warned that passage of the bill with its current wording would be constitutionally damaging and would cause “weeping for generations to come.”

For what was essentially a maiden speech at a ceremony of this kind, Grunis instantly demonstrated that he would be a formidable opponent. Peres observed that legislation passed by the Knesset was often born out of coalition agreements and considerations and that these coalitions operated for a limited time period. Thus, any legislation that would have longterm effects had to be very carefully and responsibly considered. Judges are not appointed for set periods as MKs are, and it was therefore essential, Peres said, that there be cooperation and consensus between the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the country – but not at the expense of the independence of the judicial branch.

■ HOLOCAUST HEROES and Remembrance Day, Remembrance Day for the Fallen in Israel’s Wars and Israel Independence Day are seminal days of unity for the Jewish people – except when politics get in the way. That seemed to be the case with former Kadima chair Tzipi Livni and present incumbent Shaul Mofaz at the opening of the Holocaust memorial ceremony at Yad Vashem on Wednesday night. Both sat in the front row, but at opposite ends. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke briefly with Mofaz as he was leaving.

■ GEFEN PUBLISHING House founder Murray S. Greenfield, who was among the overseas volunteers involved in the effort to bring Holocaust survivors to the land of Israel during the British Mandate period and who remained in the nascent state following the War of Independence, is adding a slightly new twist to the March of the Living. Greenfield, who is a writer as well as a publisher, will meet a group of some 150 people from the March of the Living Organization when they land in Israel in the dawn hours of Sunday morning and will accompany them to Atlit, the coastal town south of Haifa which was used by the British as a detention camp for what they termed to be illegal immigrants. Many of these immigrants were intercepted at sea and sent to Cyprus, where the British had also set up a detention camp.

Greenfield, who was in the US merchant marines before joining Aliya Bet (as the immigration effort was called), is completing a book on Holocaust survivors who spent time in Cyprus and in Atlit . He will share some of his experiences with the March of the Living participants to demonstrate how a united and determined effort can revive a decimated nation. He will also lead the group through the Atlit camps.

More than 100,000 survivors attempted to enter what was then Palestine, arriving in 142 voyages. More than half were stopped by British patrol boats and sent to Cyprus. Others were imprisoned in Atlit, whose camp has now become a museum of illegal immigration. Greenfield has chronicled part of the story in his book The Jews’ Secret Fleet which was later made into a documentary film by Alan Rosenthal under the title Waves of Freedom. Greenfield’s wife, Hana, nee Lustig, is a Czech Holocaust survivor who wrote a book of her own experiences, Fragments of Memory, and, following the resumption of diplomatic relations between Israel and the Czech Republic, initiated several Holocaust memorial projects in her native land.

■ INTERVIEWED ON Israel Radio on Thursday morning by Arye Golan, who is the son of Polish Holocaust survivors, Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich, the daughter of Holocaust survivors, refused to voice any criticism of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on this particular day, saying that Holocaust Remembrance Day was not an appropriate time for such a thing. Yacimovich, whose mother’s whole family was murdered in Treblinka, said when prodded by Golan that she was against using the Holocaust as a backdrop for any existential threat to Israel. The situation today is vastly different from that of 1938 and 1939, she explained. Today, Israel is a strong and independent power that can hold its own and defend its people. This was not the case in World War II. Acknowledging the importance of remaining constantly vigilant, Yacimovich was nonetheless opposed to over-dramatizing issues such as the Iranian nuclear threat and giving it a Holocaust connotation.

On a personal note, Yacimovich, whose mother spent the war years hiding in Warsaw in a hole in the wall behind a cupboard, said that her parents, despite what they had suffered and the loved ones they had lost, had succeeded in a raising an Israeli family. Although her father had not lived to see it, her mother, who had once been left alone in the world, could take pride in the fact that she had a daughter who headed a political party in the Jewish homeland. In fact, Yacimovich will be drumming up additional support this coming Sunday, April 22, at a Labor Party ideological seminar in Jaffa.

■ AS HE does at every commemorative gathering at which he speaks, President Peres at the opening ceremony of Holocaust Remembrance Day invoked the name of his grandfather, Rabbi Zvi Meltzer, who, wrapped in his prayer shawl, was burned alive in the synagogue in the president’s birth place of Wieszniev together with all the Jews in his community. The Germans wanted to prove that they were a superior race by eradicating other races, said Peres, reminding the large audience of Holocaust survivors and their families who were gathered in the Warsaw Ghetto Plaza at Yad Vashem that today there are approximately 1.5 million Israeli citizens who are not Jewish. Mindful of the fact that the Holocaust was the most brutal demonstration of racism, Peres warned against any form of racial or religious discrimination against Israel’s non-Jewish citizens. The implication was that we cannot do unto others what was done to us.

Jews were not the only victims of the inhuman Nazi policy. Gypsies were also victims and no less vulnerable than the Jews. Even today, they are still being victimized in Europe, as are Jews in many places. In fact, a delegation of European Sinti and Roma gypsies, headed by Romani Rose, who chairs the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma and who lost relatives in the Holocaust, came to Israel at the invitation of the Israeli government to participate in Holocaust commemorations. The delegation, which includes representatives from Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, met for discussions with Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin as well as with representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The main topic of their talks was the increasing anti-Semitism and violence to which Jews, Sinti and Roma in Europe are being subjected.

■ FORMER Channel 10 news anchor Miki Haimovich, who took a coolingoff period following her resignation, is back in harness – not as an anchorwoman for a rival channel but as the presenter of an advertising campaign for Bituah Yashir. The insurance company has in the past used well-known members of the entertainment industry to promote its brand name.

Haimovich announced toward the end of 2010 that she would be leaving Channel 10, and in June, 2011 presented her final news broadcast alongside Ya’akov Eilon, who has since tendered his own resignation. The two had previously been a team on Channel 2. Haimovich is married to television personality Eli Ildis, who was hired as the presenter of an advertising campaign and who last year promoted the male fashions of ML while Noa Tishbi promoted ML’s female fashions. Both he and Tishbi have since been replaced. Haimovich has landed a three-year contract valued at NIS 2.5 million. Not bad for a woman who’s going to celebrate her 50th birthday in June.

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