Supreme Court justice Elyakim Rubinstein on Thursday weighed in on the controversy surrounding his colleague Salim Jubran's refusal to sing the national anthem saying it was "a tempest in a teapot."
The controversy over Jubran's refusal to sing Hatikva, Israel's national anthem, occurred during the swearing in ceremony of the Israeli Supreme Court’s new president, Judge Asher Grunis on Tuesday. At the end of the ceremony those present stood up and sang Hatikvah, the Israeli national anthem. Arab judge Salim Jubran, however, chose not to sing.
Jubran's decision infuriated nationalist lawmakers who say they plan to demand Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman fire Jubran. They charge that his "insolence" is a "degradation to the Jewish state."
"I think it was an unjustified attack on justice Jubran. Its off the mark," Rubinstein said. "Non-Jewish citizens must respect the national anthem and stand while it is being sung; and non-Jewish army officers, police officers and prison service personnel must salute during the national anthem as usual."
But it is wrong " to require Arab citizens to sing words that do not speak to their hearts and do not reflect their heritage. Common sense anywhere tells you this," Rubinstein said.
Hatikva expresses the Jewish longing to return and be a free people in their homeland, Zion and Jerusalem, but does not in any way negate the presence of non-Jews in Israel.
At the same time, Rubinstein said he did not support altering the text of Hatikva, saying: "Whoever joins us in singing it, bless him, but it must remain a personal decision."
Rubinstein also defended Jubran's loyalty to Israel, "He does not need a good word from me, but we have worked closely for eight years and I can testify to his integrity as a judge, his loyalty as citizen of the State of Israel, and to his having represented our country abroad with dignity and success."
"There are many like him," Rubinstein added.