The country's flak jacket
Last week, the High Court of Justice handed down several key rulings that touch on Israel's continuing war against murderous Palestinian terror. According to Henry Kissinger's well-known dictum, if no one is satisfied with court rulings, it is a sign that they are good, worthy and just.
Last week, the High Court of Justice handed down several key rulings that touch on Israel's continuing war against murderous Palestinian terror. The first ruling, which revoked a provision in the "Intifada Law," was greeted with massive criticism and harsh attacks from circles on the right, whereas the final ruling, which permitted, albeit with certain restrictions, targeted killings of terrorists, was greeted with cries of distress in leftist circles.
According to Henry Kissinger's well-known dictum, if no one is satisfied with court rulings, it is a sign that they are good, worthy and just. There are Knesset members whose throbbing sense of self-importance causes them to believe that the essence of democracy is Knesset decisions, which "reflect the will of the people." Such democracies have been termed "the tyranny of the masses" by Aristotle and Thomas Jefferson. True democracy is built on checks and balances, including judicial review of majority decisions. This is so in the United States, it is so in Europe and it is so in the Jewish view.
However, I am not proposing to defend the High Court of Justice, as it does not need my defense. Rather, I propose to illuminate a certain point of which most citizens of this country seem unaware - namely, the High Court's tremendous contribution to Israel's diplomatic and information struggle. As someone who dealt with this subject for many years and continues to follow this difficult and essential struggle closely, I am able to testify to the extent to which the Supreme Court's status and prestige in Israel, its profound involvement in the activities of the Israel Defense Forces and Israel as a whole in the territories, and its thorough and profound rulings on these issues have helped Israel rebuff harsh diplomatic and propaganda attacks on it by various actors worldwide.
The whole world does not think like Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; Israel also has many friends in the United States, Canada, Australia, Europe and elsewhere. However, the preservation of human rights is very important to these friends. The Knesset's decisions do not impress them, and this is no wonder, as even inside Israel itself, the Knesset does not earn great trust. The Supreme Court, however, has great trust among the citizens of Israel and even more in the enlightened world. There is no supreme court in the world that is more esteemed for its independence, its courage and its sensitivity to international law and to proportionality in government actions than the Israeli Supreme Court, and there is no jurist in the world who is accorded more esteem than former Supreme Court president Aharon Barak.
Since the Six-Day War, the High Court of Justice has dealt with hundreds, if not thousands, of petitions concerning Israeli policy in the territories. All along the way, no real damage has been done to the IDF's ability to wage an all-out war on terror and Palestinian subversion. The High Court has allowed house demolitions, the deportation of terrorists, construction of the separation fence and now also targeted interceptions. However, its willingness to deliberate the fundamentals of each and every petition in all seriousness; its imposition of constraints and limits on the security forces' actions; its insistence on the principle of proportionality; the fact that here and there, it has not hesitated to revoke government decisions or prohibit government actions; and above all, the fact that its rulings are always anchored in reasoned argument in the best judicial tradition - all these have made it Israel's main line of defense, the country's flak jacket in its diplomatic-informational struggle.
The Arabs conducted a huge war against the separation fence, or as they like to call it, the "wall." They realized full well that the fence established a limit to the spread of Islamism and constituted a major brake on terrorism. About two and a half years ago, the International Court of Justice in The Hague issued a ruling that determined that the fence was illegal and should be dismantled. The Arabs intended to use this ruling as a tremendous lever against Israel, and even managed to get a harsh resolution against Israel passed by the United Nations General Assembly toward the end of 2004. But now, for the second year already, the Arabs have not raised this issue in the General Assembly and are contenting themselves with marginal and unimportant resolutions. This is because in the meantime, the Israeli Supreme Court began to thoroughly examine the fence's route along its entire length and has proven to every unbiased person that no one can balance Israel's security needs, which many in the world recognize, with the Palestinians' needs and rights better than it can. It has also dealt with the International Court of Justice's ruling and vanquished it.
This is also the case with respect to the targeted interceptions, which are a major tool in the war on terror. The court's decision - which has afforded a legal basis, in accordance with international law, and a moral justification for carrying out targeted interceptions under certain conditions and constraints - is the defensive shield of this country and its agents in this holy war.