Ben-Ari vs. Beinisch Over Religious Supreme Court Nominee

MK Ben-Ari calls to remove Beinisch from the Judge Selection committee following controversy over religious nominee.

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Maayana Miskin,

Justice Dorit Beinisch
Justice Dorit Beinisch
Israel news photo: (file)

MK Michael Ben-Ari (Ichud Leumi – National Union) has begun a campaign to get Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch removed from the Judges Selection Committee. Ben-Ari charges that Beinisch is biased against religious nominees.

The freshman MK is calling on his colleagues to sign a petition asking Beinisch to step down.

The initiative to remove Beinisch from the committee began, Ben-Ari explains, “following an aggressive, unprecedented campaign that began in the [Supreme Court] President's office, against the candidacy of four religious judges to the Supreme Court.” Beinisch's associates attacked certain candidates in particular, he said, chief among them judge Moshe Drori.

Sources identified as being "close to Beinisch" said the justice had received dozens of angry letters complaining about Drori's candidacy. “That's really amazing, Drori's candidacy was made public just a day ago, and president Beinisch has already received dozens of responses,” Ben-Ari replied sarcastically.

"Moreover, did Beinisch receive complaints against Drori alone? Were there no complaints against other judges, those who Justice Beinisch hopes to see succeed?” he asked.

Report Led to Complaints of Racism
According to the Hebrew-language daily Yediot Aharonot, many complaints were sent following a report in the paper accusing Drori of racism. The paper published selected quotes from a judgement in which Drori ruled in favor of a hareidi-religious man accused of attacking a female supermarket cashier of Ethiopian Jewish origin, and followed with statements from Ethiopian-Israeli activists accusing the judge of racism.

Boaz Kenig, the attorney who represented the hareidi-religious man in the case that led to accusations of racism, accused Yediot Aharonot of taking quotes out of context. “In order to understand the verdict you have to read the entire thing,” he insisted. “There isn't a trace of racism against the plaintiff – the opposite.”

Among those who criticized Drori following the publication of the Yediot Aharonot article was MK Shlomo Molla, who termed Drori “racist and evil.”

Not all responses to the report were critical. Several figures in the legal world spoke out in defense of Drori, terming him “brilliant,” “understanding” and “warm.”

Media Leaks to Sway Committee?
Whatever the complaints against Drori or others, such information should not be leaked to the public, Ben-Ari said. “Is this how the Judges Selection Committee is supposed to make its decisions? Is this how committee members are swayed to pick one judge over another?”

Ben-Ari ended his petition with harsh criticism of Beinisch and her colleagues: “Justice Beinisch, like her fellow 'enlightened, liberal' judges, wants the Supreme Court to have a single opinion. They do not want religious judges, judges who may have voted for a party slightly to the right of Meretz, they do not want independent judges, only those who will conform to the system.”