Selective Law Enforcement and Democracy

What happened at Amona is sad, but it was predictable. The State Prosecutor's Office, police and courts have been pushing the nationalist camp in this direction for years.

Robert S. Barnes

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What happened at Amona is sad, but it was predictable. The State Prosecutor's Office, police and courts have been pushing the nationalist camp in this direction for years.

The labor unions, Hareidim and Arabs have been using violence or the threat of violence for years to get their way and circumvent the law and the democratic process, with little or no consequences for themselves. Sitting Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubenstein has openly accused left-wing elements in the State Prosecutor's Office, police and media of colluding to suppress their political opponents.

There is a fundamental lack of equality before the law and a clear tendency towards politically motivated prosecution, namely selective enforcement, which is illegal in most democracies in the world. For example, Moshe Feiglin was sent to jail on sedition charges for his protest activities against the Oslo Accords. The Histadrut labor union, headed by Amir Peretz, has regularly engaged in protest activities over the last ten years identical to, and even worse than, those led by Feiglin; in numerous cases, the union was in direct violation of court orders. Yet, to my knowledge, no leader of the union, and definitely not Amir Peretz, has ever been criminally prosecuted.

Justice Mishael Cheshin disqualified Feiglin from running for the Knesset as a Likud candidate because he was convicted of a crime of "moral turpitude", i.e., moral depravity or corruption. Amir Peretz is currently a member of Knesset, head of the Labor party and a contender for prime minister.

Mohamed Bakri made the movie Jenin, Jenin, in which he portrayed fictional instances of Israeli atrocities in Jenin, such as the intentional injury and murder of civilians and children. This film was directly responsible for large numbers of anti-Semitic violent incidents. A group of soldiers privately sued him for libel when he used their images in a way that made them appear to be committing war crimes. They won a small monetary settlement. Bakri, an Arab citizen living in Israel, was never prosecuted by the state under any of the many laws he could have been, such as incitement to violence. His film was publicly screened numerous times all over Israel. On the other hand, Tatyana Suskin drew a picture of Mohammed as a pig and was sentenced to two years in prison.

Then there is the courts caving in to violence and threats of violence. The best example is the Jewish right to pray on the Temple Mount. The courts have ruled that, in principle, Jews have a right to pray on the Temple Mount. However, the Supreme Court has made that conditional on approval by the Israeli police. If the police estimate that Jewish prayer, or even Jewish presence, may lead to violence from the Arab Muslim side, then the police have the authority to prevent Jews from praying on or even ascending the Temple Mount. In what democratic country do threats of violence trump an individual's basic civil rights?

When the United States decided to integrate Black Americans into schools located in southern states, the were widespread threats of mass violence from White residents and even state government officials. The United States federal government did not say, "Oh, there might violence, so we better just keep denying Black Americans their basic civil rights." No, the president ordered in armed soldiers to forcibly put down any violence and to protect the basic civil rights of Black American students.

When people see violence works for other sectors, when they see politically motivated selective prosecution, when they feel they have little or no democratic or legal recourse, violence is the result almost every time. In fact, it is truly a miracle that no one was killed in the expulsion of the Jews from Gaza.