Judge Tal: I Would Refuse Orders to Expel Jews
Retired Supreme Court Judge Zvi Tal, who presided at the Ivan Demjanjuk trial, revealed in an interview with the Hebrew-language newspaper Ma'ariv that he would refuse orders to destroy Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria.
"On the one hand, refusing orders is a terrible thing that could destroy the army," said Judge Tal. "On the other hand, if you think and feel that this is an order that is completely illegal, then it is your responsibility [to refuse it]. If I were a soldier, I think that I wouldn't take part in it, even if I were imprisoned. If someone asked me, then I think I would tell him, 'You need to take responsibility and choose for yourself.'" Judge Tal's son fell while defending Israel.
Regarding the Supreme Court, Tal said, "On the one hand, I highly respect the Supreme Court as a champion of the poor. On the other hand, there are claims that the Supreme Court's rulings have been slanted towards a specific policy. The Supreme Court reduced the power of the Rabbinical Courts, and many hareidim and other religious Jews felt that this was not their Supreme Court any longer, that it was against them. And their criticism was justified. I was torn between the two poles. There were several rulings which gave the impression of oppression of the religious sector and I thought that both sides were right."
Regarding the issue of the girls' school in the town of Emmanuel, Tal said, "I am relying on what I have heard from the radio and read in the paper, but in my opinion the court overstepped its bounds when it ordered each parent on how to act. Had the court ordered the school on how to act, and how to accept this or that student, that would have been a different story. But here, the parents said, 'Fine, we'll send our children to B'nei Brak and not to this school', and the court said, 'No, you'll send them to this school, and if not, you'll go to jail.' In my opinion, that is over-stepping the bounds of the court. You can't force a parent to send his child to a specific school."
Judge Tal, a religious Zionist, headed the 'Tal Committee', which dealt with the exemption from IDF service given to yeshiva students. The Tal Law, which in 2002 was passed in the Knesset, enabled the continuation of this exemption, but under somewhat different conditions than in the past. A 2006 Supreme Court decision criticized the law, saying that it was unfair to IDF soldiers who serve. In 2007, the Knesset voted to continue the Tal Law until 2012. The law has been a matter of political negotiation between the ruling party and the religious parties since its inception.