Congregants gather in Ayelet Hashachar synagogue in Givat Ze'ev.
(photo credit: MEDABRIM TIKSHORET)
In the next few days, barring a last-minute reversal, the Israeli government will dispatch soldiers and bulldozers with a terrible task on their hands: to demolish a synagogue in Givat Ze’ev, north of Jerusalem.
Known as Ayelet HaShachar, the Sephardi synagogue has served the local community for more than 15 years and accommodates over 300 worshipers, many of whom are veterans of IDF combat units who risked their lives in defense of the state.
But now, that very same state is poised to carry out a disgraceful ruling issued last week by Israel’s Supreme Court, which declared: “[W]e rule that the destruction shall take place no later than November 17, 2015.”
The razing of the Givat Ze’ev synagogue cannot be allowed to come to pass. We must all raise our voices and protest, and use every legal means possible, to bring about the negation of this unjust and immoral decision.
Consider the following: The land upon which the synagogue is built was purchased legally for $70,000 from its Palestinian Arab owner. Several years later, another Palestinian Arab came forward, with the encouragement of a left-wing Israeli organization, asserting that he is the real owner and demanding that the synagogue be torn down.
A petition was filed with the Supreme Court to this end. And despite the fact that the Israeli Civil Administration was unable, after three years of checking, to determine who the rightful owner was or is, the court nonetheless ordered the synagogue’s destruction.
For various reasons the implementation of the decision was delayed, but in light of the court’s ruling last week, it now appears that time may be running out.
Adding to the absurdity is the fact that the members of the synagogue have expressed their willingness to pay the second alleged owner of the land just to remove any shadow of a doubt regarding the title to the property. But even this gesture has been rejected.
To be sure, the synagogue itself was originally built without a permit. Nonetheless, there are plenty of precedents in which such structures were retroactively approved, so there is a way to solve this without turning a synagogue into a heap of rubble.
The court’s handling of this case is just the latest example of its decidedly left-wing bias, which was on full display in recent weeks when it delayed the demolition of homes belonging to terrorists who carried out lethal attacks against Israelis over the past year.
Does it make sense to any clear-thinking person that the Supreme Court in the Jewish state would delay the destruction of terrorists’ homes while pressing forward with knocking down a synagogue? Five months ago, the Regavim organization published an eye-opening study about the court’s handling of petitions regarding unauthorized construction in Judea and Samaria. It lays bare for all to see just how one-sided and unjust the Supreme Court can be.
Regavim reviewed 54 cases heard by the court between 2005 and 2013, 29 of which were filed by the Left against Jewish construction and 25 by the Right against Arab building, and examined how each one was handled.
The cold hard facts, and the partiality they reveal, are difficult to dispute. It turns out that on average, it took the court more than twice as long to issue an initial response to petitions filed by the Right than to those by the Left, 52 days versus 23 days. The first court hearing on left-wing petitions took place, on average, within eight months of the petition being filed, while those emanating from the right took over a year.
Left-wing suits were not only addressed more rapidly, but also garnered more of the court’s attention, with more than twice the number of court discussions, a far longer lifetime for the petitions and a lop-sided number of interim and conditional injunctions issued. And while the chief justice took part in 62% of the Left’s petitions, just 32% of right-wing appeals merited such treatment.
Clearly, something needs to be done to restore some balance, and equity, to the court and its procedures. It is too important an institution to be allowed to devolve into an arm of one side of the political spectrum.
Should it come to pass, the flattening of the synagogue in Givat Ze’ev would deal a grave and demoralizing blow to the morale not only of its members, but to all those who expect the Jewish state to respect and safeguard the sanctity of a synagogue.
At a time when Palestinian terrorists are on a stabbing spree, we have a right to demand that our government focus its efforts on protecting us, rather than tearing down a symbol of our return to this land.