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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Cronyism at the Supreme Court

As many of you know, Chief Justice Aharon Barak, who dominated Israel's Supreme Court for the last ten years, retired last week, and his hand-picked successor Dorit Beinish took over. If the right and the country's religious population chafed under Barak, it's only going to get worse under Beinish. One of the things this article does not mention is that Beinish prosecuted the 'Jewish underground' in 1984. But the article does plenty to point out how problematic Beinish's tenure could be. One other tidbit - a recent survey said that only 32% of respondents thought she was qualified to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Hmm...
Beinisch is now an august figure, and so nobody mentions her role in fielding Avishai Raviv as a Shin Bet agent provocateur, which required her approval as then state-attorney (from early 1989 through to the very end of 1995).

Raviv's covert shenanigans weren't exposed until after the Rabin assassination. He was the one who handed TV newsmen a small homemade photomontage of Rabin in SS uniform, to this day exploited to besmirch Rabin's legitimate political opponents. The assassin himself was Raviv's sidekick, goaded by him to do the deed.

Exactly 11 years ago, on September 22, 1995 - only weeks before the assassination - Israel state television titillated its viewers with particularly eerie footage shot in the wee hours in a deserted graveyard. A group of adolescents clustered around a tombstone, apparently taking part in a creepy clandestine initiation. The fact that their supposedly secret ceremony was conducted obligingly before TV crews astoundingly didn't undermine the credibility accorded the sensational videos. The camera, as we're often told, never lies.

That rite caused an undercover Jewish "terror ring," dubbed Eyal, to burst irresistibly into the public awareness. The post-assassination Shamgar Inquiry Commission would reveal it as stage-managed, a fake, a set-up.

Raviv was the chieftain who swore-in "recruits" to the bogus underground. To garnish this libelous exploit with "moral authority" he chose as his theatrical-setting the last resting place of Lehi leader Avraham "Yair" Stern, who was cold-bloodedly murdered by the British in February 1942. Raviv even had his eccentric entourage sing out Yair's anthem "Hayalim almonim" (Anonymous soldiers). The hauntingly evocative lyrics were meant to lend damning authenticity to sinister slander.

AS IT LATER emerged, this was all part of a scheme to tarnish the ideological so-called Right, to paint its adherents as wild-eyed hooligans and hothead nutcases who instigate mayhem and violence, and relish nothing more than tossing flaming matches into our regional tinderbox.


WE'LL NEVER know if different tactics were sanctioned for communities, as distinct from individuals, if the prosecution merely approved defaming an entire segment of public opinion. The case against Raviv for libel and his macabre midnight pageant was closed - for "lack of public interest"- by Beinisch's best friend and successor as state attorney Edna Arbel.

During Arbel's state attorney tenure, a case against Beinisch's husband, Yehezkel, for defrauding the income tax authorities was also closed. Beinisch blamed Yehezkel's legal travails on "political antagonists" who'd stop at nothing to get at her. Again we may never know, because the tax charges were dropped.

TO BE SURE Yehezkel is still the subject of financial and felony investigations, which the prosecution is incredibly loath to pursue and apparently very eager to forget about. Nonetheless, formally at least, some allegations still hang over Yehezkel's head, a circumstance which would have made his wife's promotion to head the highest court in the land unlikely elsewhere - in Washington, for instance.

But here, as we noted, a friend brings a friend. And so, Beinisch made sure Arbel joined her on the Supreme Court. No feminist zeal was involved. Beinisch stopped at nothing to thwart the candidacies of two of the country's most esteemed law professors: Ruth Gavison and Nili Cohen.

In true oligarchies nothing is left to chance.
Read it all.


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