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Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch, who last month was injured in the face by a shoe hurled by a defendant in court, warned yesterday that the public discourse in Israel was proving fertile ground for those seeking to harm judges.

"There's no doubt that the language of strength is the one that speaks, the language of threats speaks and the threats have accumulated everywhere," she told students at a Haifa elementary school.

The judicial system suffered another blow early Sunday when it was discovered that Haifa District Court Judge Moshe Gilad's car had been torched by arsonists.

"There's no doubt that the situation has deteriorated," Beinisch said. "There is an escalation [of threats] against judges and this is part of the undermining of the institutions of governance."

"Obviously, this phenomenon needs to be uprooted," Beinisch said. "There needs to be respect accorded to all institutions."

Following her address, Beinisch was asked by a student whether judges can feel safe following the torching of Gilad's car and the shoe-throwing incident. "We are stronger than them," she responded.

Beinisch said she was concerned that Israeli society had come to view "the cheapening of human life" as a fact of life.

"Israeli society is divided by various political viewpoints, majority and minority groups," she said. "There's tension regarding problems of religion and state, religious versus secular, Jews and Arabs, native Israelis and new immigrants, and socio-economic gaps."

"All of these are compounded by deep concern over violence, violent crime, fatal car accidents," Beinisch said. "These phenomena are all expressions of a cheapening of human life, and I am terribly concerned that Israeli society has become accustomed to viewing them as part of the reality of our lives, as if this has become our lot."

"At times there is a sense that an unsuspecting person who leaves his house to go to town, to the beach, the restaurant, or some event cannot ensure that he will return home safe and sound not just due to the threat of terrorism, but the criminal terrorism that lurks against everyone, including women, children, and even elderly people in their own homes," she said.