There was something very disappointing in the way the enlightened community in Israel received the decision of Attorney General Menachem Mazuz. Instead of dealing with integrity with the most courageous document written here in a long time, the community rejected it out of hand.
Academics, members of the media and politicians were mobilized to a campaign intended to delegitimize the attorney general. They treated the head of the state prosecution exactly as Shas' people used to treat Dorit Beinish and Aharon Barak in the past.
In an especially depressing week, a significant portion of the enlightened people proved again that their openness has limits. There is a limit to their readiness to cast doubt on the rightness of their way. The moment some mirror exposes a bleak portrait to them, they do not hesitate to smash it.
The portrait Mazuz exposed is indeed bleak. Not only the portrait of her honor Supreme Court Justice Edna Arbel (according to the new halakhic rules of the enlightened people, anyone who criticizes her belongs in prison), but the joint portrait of us all. Attorneys, police officers, journalists. All those whose profession is the truth. All those who receive wages to see reality as it is, and to describe it without embellishment. For Mazuz's detailed opinion states that all of us, all those practiced in the truth, have failed our duty. We were all partner to creating a distorted picture of reality.
Granted, Mazuz may be mistaken. The weltanschauung guiding him may certainly be argued.
However, when the most senior official in the state justice system challenges the public with an extremely subversive document, it is incumbent to listen to him. It is incumbent to read carefully, think quietly and reexamine the basic assumptions. Instead of stoning Mazuz, one should ask a number of penetrating questions: How did it happen that the Israel Police got entangled in a monumental phone-bugging project that yielded almost nothing? How did it happen that the hands of senior state prosecutors did not tremble when they signed a decision that means the demotion of an elected prime minister on the basis of flimsy evidence? How did it happen that even Haaretz published a main headline that misled its readers in the gravest manner ("Sharon said to Appel: The island is in our hands," when in fact, according to Mazuz, Sharon did not utter this as a statement but asked it humorously)? How did it happen that Yedioth Ahronoth, which claimed that payments to Gilad Sharon were bribery, employed a man (David Spector) who transfered to that same Gilad Sharon about NIS 1 million?
There is no getting around it: the Mazuz report requires self examination. Not slanders, not mudslinging, but self examination. On the face of it, the report indicates that not only the prosecution attorneys, but also all Israeli systems in charge of verifying the truth and the rule of law are not functioning properly. The fact that these systems lent a hand, albeit in good faith, to creating a false presentation cannot be whitewashed. Nor can the fact that certain police officers and attorneys have accumulated excessive power be whitewashed. The fact that the media fell victim to transparent manipulations carried out by those officers and attorneys cannot be whitewashed.
There's no getting around it - the Mazuz report is a milestone in the history of Israel. Exposing the flaws and failures of the truth-finding process and the justice-making process in Israel, the report deglorifies the rule of law. It takes the old rule of law out of the temple, and smashes the taboo that prevented an open public debate on everything pertaining to law, legal systems and legal people.
In this respect, the Mazuz report is like the Agranat report. As the Agranat Committee redefined the relationship between the Israeli public and its political and military leadership, so the Mazuz committee redefines the relationship between the public and the rule of legal leadership. As was the case after Agranat that the heads of state and generals ceased to be sons of gods, so after Mazuz, attorneys, police officers and even judges will cease to be Olympus dwellers. They will no longer enjoy the protection of a sacred halo. Like the rest of democracy's messengers, they too will have to be exposed to the purifying light of the sun.
In this new situation, there are quite a few risks. Dark powers are crouching at the door. Corrupt elements may exploit the crisis of the rule of law. But the answer to this danger is not whitewashing. The only way to rehabilitate the rule of law now is to adopt a new ethos of self criticism. To reinforce their status, the media, police and prosecution systems must admit their failures and correct them. The attempt to bury the truth will not succeed. Neither will the attempt to get out of the situation by chastising the attorney general. Such attempts by some members of the enlightened community no longer serve enlightenment. On the contrary, they testify to how deep the affliction that Mazuz finally dared to expose has penetrated.
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