The rise and fall of Effi Naveh - From top lawyer kingmaker to arrest

From trailblazing lawyer to bottom of the system, in handcuffs

By MOR SHIMONI
January 17, 2019 21:22
3 minute read.
Effi Naveh in court

Effi Naveh in court. (photo credit: REUVEN CASTRO)

 
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Israel Bar Association head Effi Naveh was once lauded as the most powerful man in Israel’s legal arena. He was supported by the country, and when things went sour, he was aided by silence, lots of it.

This refusal to speak against him was shared by the community of legal professionals, members of the board in charge of the bar and the Justice Ministry. All of them refused to denounce his behavior and demand that he resign. Everybody was waiting for the court to issue a ruling.

Even when Naveh was faced with some alarming allegations, it was easy to find people in the top echelons of the legal establishment to decisively argue against him – until today.

The police arrested Naveh, along with a magistrate’s court judge and the wife of another magistrate’s court judge, under suspicion of involvement in a scheme of trading sexual favors for judicial appointments.

Naveh is being investigated for demanding sexual favors from the wife of a magistrate’s court judge who was seeking promotion to become a district court judge a couple of years ago.

With the allegations now out, those around him are raising their voices for the first time.

“He reached great heights, and now he hits great lows,” wrote top legal bar members in their resignation letter released this week.

This line summarizes Nave’s story. He, more than any other head of the bar, directed the bar toward attaining political influence, and he was admired beyond any of his predecessors in that role. Now he’s at the bottom of the legal system, in custody and handcuffs. This reduced status is personal as well as professional.

Who is Effi Naveh? How did he gain so many supporters? And what led him to this point?

The 50-year-old Naveh was born and raised in Ashkelon and studied law in Ramot Mishpat College. Years later, when he became the head of the bar, he said colleges provide students with a low-level of education and that was why many college graduates fail when they attempt to pass the bar examination.

IN 1995, after finishing his internship in a Tel Aviv peace court, Naveh was given his license to practice law and established the Attias-Naveh law firm, which focused on personal injury law.

His rise to power was fast. In 2011, he became head of the Tel Aviv District Court and served as the head of its ethics committee, a role that now sounds ironic.

In 2015, he began serving as head of the bar association.

Naveh, a father of six, is currently in the process of divorcing his second wife. This divorce is now public, following recent media coverage.

Naveh became the “official” face of the bar association. He appeared in every possible forum, took photos with every legal person of note, gained a place on the Judicial Selection Committee, and became a close ally of Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked. One of the better known things he did was to work with the news program Uvdah (“Fact”), where he documented himself speaking with judges and lawyers at the bar association’s annual event in Eilat – without informing the speakers they were being recorded.

Add that to a growing reports that he has been illegally using a handicapped parking permit, and the legal community still failed to criticize him.

His personal feud with reporter Sharon Shpurer – which led to him filing a one-million shekel libel lawsuit against her – did not lead other reporters to write against him.

Even the publication two months ago that he was suspected of criminal acts, and was convicted of illegally leaving and entering the country with his current partner as part of a conflict with his wife, did not cause him personal damage.
Now it looks as if he is in trouble over his head. As the top lawyer in Israel’s legal system he must understand that.

Supreme Court President Esther Hayut sent a letter to all of Israel’s judges offering them her support in this “uneasy time.” Shaked voiced her discontent with Nave, using very cautious words.

We’re still some distance away from this allegations being tested in a court of law, dismissed or accepted as truthful. Yet the legal and political authorities in the land must ask themselves how a person of such low moral standards reached such a mighty position.

This report was translated from Maariv.

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