Analysis |

Arrest of Israel's Top Lawyer in Sex for Judgeship Case Proves Judges Aren't Saints

Nepotism, cronyism and preference for the elites has always existed when appointing judges. The difference today is the context – sex, and perhaps the chutzpah and style that stemmed from Nave’s intoxication with power

Revital Hovel
Revital Hovel
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Effi Nave at a hearing at the el Aviv Magistrate's Court, January 16, 2019.
Effi Nave at a hearing at the el Aviv Magistrate's Court, January 16, 2019. Credit: Coco
Revital Hovel
Revital Hovel

The Efraim Nave affair explodes once and for all the myth that judges are saints, superhuman, and warriors for justice with consciences. They are human beings with interests, desires and a weakness for power. They were the first to realize that Nave was the man who would influence and promote appointments. But they were not put off by his aggressive behavior, the lawsuits he filed to silence journalists, the unjustified use of his disabled daughter and the fact that he recorded them to glorify himself on the “Uvda” television program.

On the contrary, they courted him, lending him legitimacy and especially power. The writing was on the wall, but everyone preferred to shut their eyes to it – judges, politicians, journalists and lawyers alike.

Effi Nave

>>Read more: Sex for judgeship case: Arrest of top Israeli lawyer won't put end to corruption | Analysis

The method of choosing judges has never been pure. During the era of Nave and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, ideology and the need for variety became the primary consideration, but even before them there was nepotism, cronyism and preference for the elites. There have been rotten apples among judges even before those involved in this affair – judges who forged protocols, who sexually harassed, who had affairs with their legal assistants or who humiliated litigants and were not dismissed. The difference today is the context – sex, and perhaps the chutzpah and style that stemmed from Nave’s intoxication with power. With the connections he had with politicians and senior members of the legal establishment, Nave got drunk on power and felt immune to being challenged. It’s a classic case of the sin of hubris.

Even after returning from a vacation in Thailand with a law student who became his lover and trying to prevent their being documented crossing the border together, he retained his power. He declared he would “come out of it like an adult.” His colleagues in the Israel Bar Association remained loyal and defended him. No one dared come out against him. Both Shaked and Supreme Court President Esther Hayut continued to respect his status. It was not until rumors of this new affair broke out that his colleagues began to disapprove. Still, it was only on Wednesday that everyone realized that his career in public life was over.

This case is indeed an individual one and needn’t stain all judges, but if the judicial system really wants the public’s confidence, it now has an opportunity for correction. A number of affairs revealed in recent years have cast a heavy pall on the justice system, which turns out to be an anti-justice system, lacking any connection to the truth.

But just as senior police commanders are no longer using national headquarters as their private harem and lawyers are afraid to conceal investigative materials, perhaps judges will now be more independent and cease to be rubber stamps for the police and the State Prosecutor’s Office, as in this case, where two judges approved the most ridiculous gag-order request in history. Judges must be appointed for their abilities and not their connections. They must be professional, modest, decent and honest, seekers of justice and the defense of people’s rights and not publicity-lovers. Their job is truly holy.

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