Daily Israel Report

Supreme Court Critics Under Investigation

Those who questioned the Supreme Court over the Emanuel affair may face investigation, charges.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 6/20/2010, 8:12 PM / Last Update: 6/20/2010, 9:43 PM

Flash 90

Members of Knesset, rabbis and journalists who criticized the Supreme Court over the Emanuel affair will face investigation this week, and may even face criminal charges. Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein will look into concerns – voiced by Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch – that critics may have been in violation of laws against expressing contempt of public servants.

Beinisch said criticism of the Supreme Court, and particularly Judge Edmond Levy, had reached the point of “grave statements that must be uprooted at the source.” Under Israeli law, it is illegal to denigrate a sitting judge or a court in a manner that could lead to disrespect of the legal system.

MKs Uri Maklev and Moshe Gafni of United Torah Judaism and David Azoulai of Shas have been mentioned as possible suspects in the investigation.

Maklev said Sunday that he is not concerned. “Police investigations and arrests do not worry us. We have never shared values with the court, and we are not afraid... There was no harm done to the judges' honor, rather, the judges dealt a blow to Judaism's honor,” he said.

Not only did he not express concern, but Maklev continued to criticize the court's behavior. “This is the first time since the communist regime in the Soviet Union that parents have been sent to prison over the Jewish education they wanted for their children,” he accused.

"If they want to put us on trial and arrest us, they should do it as quickly as possible, so that we will make it to jail in time to be in prison with the Emanuel detainees,” he added.

Dozens of fathers from the hareidi-religious city of Emanuel were sent to jail last week after refusing to send their daughters to a school where two religious tracks were recently integrated by court order. The parents, members of the Slonim hassidic sect, had created a separate track with more stringent religious standards for their children within an existing hareidi-religious school; judges ordered the girls to learn with children in the regular track.

The court accused the Slonim parents of racism against Sephardi Jews, a charge they denied. Some of the students in the Slonim track are Sephardi, they pointed out. As the parents were taken to jail last week, one father bore a sign saying, “I'm a Sephardi Jew being sent to jail because I wanted my daughter to learn in a hassidic school.”

The Israel Law Center filed a complaint over the arrests, saying the Supreme Court did not have the legal right to order the parents sent to jail. The appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court, which ruled that it was not its place to hear appeals against itself.