Commentary: Rotem's allegations are out of date

By DAN IZENBERG
June 16, 2009 22:33
2 minute read.

It is difficult to avoid the impression that Knesset Law Committee chairman David Rotem (Israel Beiteinu) was hitching a ride Tuesday on the coattails of another right-wing religious MK, Uri Ariel (National Union). During a meeting of the Knesset Law Committee before a handful of MKs and an equal number of reporters who had turned out to hear Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman, Rotem blasted those who had allegedly made him feel like he had "stolen the Israeli judicial system." Rotem did not bother to say who these people were, or how many of them there were, but made it sound as if the so-called Ashkenazi, left-wing elite was angered by his election. It certainly did not seem that way in the media. Rotem, a private lawyer for many years and a member of the coalition, was not an outrageous choice. Of course, those who opposed his views on the Supreme Court, including his outspoken opinions on the need to reduce its powers, preferred MK Eitan Cabel (Labor). But that, Rotem hopefully would admit, was fair enough. The anger on the part of many people - including right-wing politicians such as Likud MKs Bennie Begin, Reuven Rivlin, Dan Meridor and Michael Eitan - was aimed at the election of Ariel, who represents a small, right-wing party on the fringes of the political spectrum. The reason it is customary to choose a representative acceptable to a broad spectrum of the opposition is to balance the fact that the coalition has an automatic bloc of three representatives on the committee - two ministers and an MK. The coalition made a cynical choice in electing Ariel the second Knesset representative on the Judge's Election Committee. The outcry against it, while influenced by political considerations on the part of some, had nothing to do with the fact that he wears a kippa or belongs to a right-wing party. But aside from the fact that most (if not all) the arrows were directed not at him but at Ariel, Rotem also decided to trot out the old allegations against the Supreme Court; that judges are supposedly selected via cronyism. This may have been true years ago, when Aharon Barak dominated the Supreme Court. It should also be granted that Rotem's criticism of retired justice Mishael Cheshin, who declared he would "cut off the hand of anyone who touched the Supreme Court" in reference to former justice minister Daniel Friedmann, was justified. But anyone who looks at the court today - and for many years now - will have a hard time defining its members as a rarified and homogenous elite. All one has to do is look at the members of the court today, one by one, to see that this accusation is hogwash. Does anyone know what the political views of justices Esther Hayut, Edmond Levy, Asher Grunis, Elyakim Rubinstein, Miriam Na'or and Edna Arbel are? They were all chosen under Barak. Since Barak retired, two Supreme Court justices have been chosen by the Judge's Election Committee under Friedmann. One was Hanan Meltzer and the other Yoram Danziger - both Ashkenazim and both light-skinned (although admittedly from Tel Aviv). What, according to Rotem's logic, should we deduce from this? That Friedmann himself is a left-wing elitist? It would be hard to convince many people of that.


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