Central Elections Committee
Central Elections Committee Hezki Ezra

Prof. Aviad Hacohen, president of the Sha'arei Mada Law Center, stated in an interview with Arutz Sheva that he believes the Supreme Court will overturn the Central Election Committee's decision to disqualify the Balad party and Ofer Kassif from running in the upcoming Knesset elections.

"I believe that the High Court of Justice will not be in a hurry to disqualify them, and I do not think the High Court of Justice will intervene even with those who have not been disqualified. Of the dozens of requests for disqualification submitted in the last forty-five years, only a few isolated cases [of the disqualifications being upheld] can be counted on the fingers of one's hand," he said.

Prof. HaCohen claimed that it would have been better for the Elections Committee not to disqualify lists. "In general, experience shows that the High Court ultimately coaches them, and therefore all the intervention of the Elections Committee in these contexts becomes a circus."

He further stated that the push to disqualify parties only gives them more publicity. "I think many people in the Israeli public did not know the name of Michael Ben Ari and certainly not the expressions he said. After all this circus now we are all aware of the expressions and we have been exposed to them and I think that he will also get more votes due to the fact that they turned him into a martyr. The same thing will happen with Balad and Ofer Kasif in particular - the request to disqualify them will empower them."

"I myself was a member of the Elections Committee 15 years ago. Even then they wanted to disqualify Balad, and I objected not because I think that Balad expresses good and correct opinions. On the contrary. But we thought that this disqualification would only strengthen them and that the High Court of Justice would not accede to it, and that was what happened. Three of the thirty-seven members of the committee voted against the disqualification while twenty-seven voted in favor, including representatives of Labor and Likud. Not only were Balad representatives in the Knesset, but they also became martyrs in the eyes of their public and received more votes."

Professor Hacohen believes that the struggle against racist statements should be waged in the public sphere and not the legal one. "In my view, the racist expressions of Otzma Yehudit are indecent and contrary to what the Torah of Israel espouses. Of course, on the other side, the Balad [is the same]. I have fought with all my might against the positions of Balad. These expressions must be in the market of opinions and not in legal disqualification, and they must be fought on the public and political media, and not on trials that are intended for the most extreme of the extreme cases, and this is not the case with Balad and Otzma Yehudit.

"In a democratic regime, the right to vote and to be elected is also a basic right, and we must remember that freedom of speech is not the right to hear things that are praiseworthy but rather expressions that are heart-rending, and therefore the struggle against them has to be elsewhere. "