Beinisch: Democracy pays for anti-judge incitement

Moshe Gilad one of 10 sworn in at Beit Hanassi.

beinisch 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
beinisch 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Democracy in Israel is paying a very high toll for incitement against judges, Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch said Monday at a swearing-in ceremony for new judges and court registrars at Beit Hanassi. Beinisch said she regretted attempts by various factors to undermine public confidence in the legal system by harming judges' dignity, and added that it was to be hoped that such incitement would not exact a high price from the heart of so important and prestigious an institution that had upheld democracy in Israel for 60 years. One of the new judges inaugurated Monday was Haifa attorney Moshe Gilad, whose many high-profile clients have included alleged underworld figures. Gilad's appointment has been the subject of controversy, after one of the lawyer's clients reportedly that if Gilad were made a judge, the courts would "belong to us." Beinisch told the new judges that they must act solely in the interest of justice in making their rulings, and warned them that the burden of their responsibilities would often make them feel isolated and vulnerable to attack. There were also attempts, she said, to portray judges as people of leisure. "Do not listen to these voices," she urged the appointees, declaring that the reality was far different. Judges are overloaded with work, she said, and their vacation days are often taken up with writing opinions. President Shimon Peres congratulated the 10 new appointees, six of whom were women, and declared that it was vital for a judge's decisions to be beyond reproach, and that a judge should be free from pressure and influence by interested parties, the media, political considerations, career ambitions and settling scores. In what appeared to be a veiled reference to Gilad, Peres said that in making their appointments, the committee members had demonstrated their confidence in the appointees. Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann, who has tangled publicly with Beinisch over many matters relating to the judiciary's relationship to the government, supported Beinisch's comments on criticism of the courts. He noted that such criticism had crossed the line, creating a very difficult public perception of the courts. While there was room for some criticism, he said, it was generally unjustified. Though justice was sometimes impeded, he said, "in the final analysis, it wins." Friedmann added that whenever possible, judicial appointees should be selected from within the justice network, but acknowledged that some lawyers in private practice may have distinguished themselves to a degree that they merited a judgeship. The justice minister said that a significant number of judges have been appointed over the past year, "but the backlog of case files is even more significant." Meanwhile, Gilad, who stood teary-eyed, was visibly moved, but managed to keep his voice under control when mobbed by media who wanted him to make a statement. He declined, saying only that Israel's judicial system was highly esteemed and must be preserved. His mother Berta, who posed for photographs with him and other members of the family, declared with pride: "That's my son, the judge." When asked about the negative things that had been published against her son in the press, she shrugged her shoulders and replied: "So they wrote bad things. Afterwards, they wrote good things."