Behind the Lines / Dismissing Beinisch

It is permissible for Orlev to fight against political conciliation in the spirit of Annapolis, but the ?address? for this is the government and not Beinisch, who is now a convenient target for every leper.

"President Beinisch must draw the necessary personal conclusions and resign in order to spare the honor and status of the Supreme Court" - MK Zevulun Orlev, referring to Justice Beinisch's meeting with the U.S. ambassador to Israel, during which she explained the court's position on Jewish settlements in the territories, Ynet, November 27

A new champion for the Supreme Court has arisen: MK Orlev, chairman of the National Religious Party, has rushed to rescue the institution's honor from its president. What did Dorit Beinisch do that so endangers the highest court in the land? What has she done that necessitates a call for her resignation?

The court's president acceded to the request of U.S. Ambassador Richard Jones, who wanted to hear from her, in her official capacity, about the legal background of the issue of the settlements. As Orlev sees it, this was "a total miscarriage of the judiciary system," and proof of "American influence on its rulings."

Orlev, once an NRP moderate, has become in recent years an extremist spokesman for the right-wing, national-religious camp. Even National Union leaders Arieh Eldad and Uri Ariel called only for Beinisch to recuse herself from discussions on the settlements. In contrast, Orlev will settle for nothing less than a resignation. As far as he is concerned, Beinisch should have refused to meet with the ambassador because the very fact of her agreement constitutes a surrender to political pressures.

The MK is wrapping himself in the righteous banner of preserving the status of the court, but in fact he is trying to establish his personal status as the watchman of the settlements, and to apply political pressure on the High Court of Justice in advance of future deliberations on the issue. His populist stand is outrageous whichever way you look at it: He has no idea what was said at the meeting, but he is exploiting it cynically in order to express a lack of confidence in the Supreme Court, to drag Beinisch into the bleeding political arena, to cast doubts of improper behavior - if not outright treason - on her, and to erode yet another bit of the public's faith in the court.

It is permissible for Orlev to fight for his positions against political conciliation in the spirit of Annapolis, but the "address" for this is the government of Israel and not Beinisch, who is now serving as a convenient target for every leper. The irony is that Orlev has no reason to attack the Supreme Court: After all, this institution has played a considerable part in laundering the settlement project during more than 40 years of occupation. It is reasonable to assume that had he been present at the meeting, Orlev would have agreed with most of the president's legal explanations concerning the mystery of the expansion and flourishing of the settlements against the rule of international law.

Anxiety attack

"I have been getting messages that they want to murder me and I am beginning to identify cars belonging to criminal elements outside my home. I have started to have nightmares and I have not been able to fall asleep at night. I sat with the district commander of the police and he said to me, 'What are you making a fuss about?' In short, they have thrown me to the dogs" - G., an intelligence coordinator in the police, in an interview to Channel 10, November 25

After the crime wars in Nahariya revealed the phenomenon of the "police avengers," Channel 10 this week revealed a no-less-disturbing phenomenon: the "police cowards." If previously we were appalled by police who go out and take partisan action against criminals, it emerges that the real problem is police personnel who are unable to fall asleep at night because they are so scared of criminals.

Take, for example, G., who is defined as "a veteran and esteemed policeman, who has served in sensitive positions." He tells reporter Iris Mizen that in the wake of threats from criminals, he has been suffering from extreme anxiety. Not only has he not received adequate answers from his commanders, they have ordered him to drop the subject, otherwise he will be reassigned. "The commanders have left this policeman alone in the battlefield," asserts Mizen, "and his psychological state is degenerating."

From G.'s confession it is clear that his psychological state is degenerating, but has he really been left "alone in the battlefield?" Not exactly. The district commander met with him, tried to reassure him, and in the end, ordered an investigation of the severity of the threat, with the aim of establishing a security plan for the policeman. However, this is not enough for G. and Mizen.

"I would not be surprised if at some point a threatened policeman who is under very heavy pressure takes the law into his own hands," said the panicked security coordinator. And the reporter sums up: "At the Israel Police they have apparently forgotten that the rules have changed and what happened in Nahariya is evidence of this."

The report indicates that there is an especially pressured policeman here, who finds it difficult to serve in a position that requires ongoing contact with criminals. His commanders are trying to deal with his problem and have even offered him a different assignment. Under ordinary circumstances, this would be an internal police story, but in the context of the furor surrounding the "police avengers," it is becoming inflated into a major phenomenon that purportedly testifies to the impotence of the police.

In fact, the report shows that in the police force, too, there are people working who are not suited for their jobs. It is possible to understand them, but their place is not in the police force (and certainly not at the top of a major news broadcast).

Nausea attack

"A person who is a homophobe, for whom it's hard to see a homosexual who's a little feminine, Moroccan and from Ramle - there's a small handful who are raising a huge ruckus" - advertiser Seffi Shaked, in response to criticism of the commercial starring Miki Buganim, Channel 2, November 25

Like many people, I, too, instinctively feel repulsed by Miki Buganim's randy performance in the commercial for lighting-fixtures company Mahsanei Teura. The obsolete jokes ("For me, 69 would also be fine") do not amuse me, the attitude toward human beings as sex objects is disgusting, and to my mind the fairy-queen style borders on sexual harassment when it bursts into the public space.

In recent days Shaked and Buganim have appeared in a number of interviews and have accused me and others like me of homophobia and even racism. Buganim asserted ("Friday" on Channel 10) that "society is trying to determine for me what kind of homo to be," and "that a femme homo isn't allowed." Shaked added to this hatred of "Moroccans from Ramle."

I decided to check myself: Does my disgust indeed derive from the latent homophobia that is seared into the mind of every straight person? Why don't I react in the same way when they sell me Ace hardware with Miri Bohadana's naked body? Is it Buganim's ethnic origin that bothers me?

I immediately can dismiss the matter of origin. Up until this week I did not know that Buganim is Moroccan and from Ramle. The matter of homophobia is a little more complex. The way to check this is to switch things around: How would I react if, instead of a flaming, stereotypical femme-homosexual male who gets his jollies from masculine lighting fixtures, some stereotypical lascivious old man appeared (say, someone of the genre of Zvika Pik or Dudu Topaz, Poles from North Tel Aviv), and got all lathered up by female lighting fixtures? The answer is clear: I would vomit on the spot. That is, we haven't got homophobia here and certainly not racism - only disgust at a crude demonstration of bad taste.

And why, if that is the case, did I not sound the alarm at Bohadana's (partly camouflaged) nudity, which was displayed in order to sell me a drill? Because, most regrettably, I have become accustomed to that sort of thing. The use of the female body and its sexuality to promote sales is so commonplace that it goes right though the filter of taste, or is greeted with a sigh of resignation. How many times is it possible to express outrage about the phenomenon without running the risk of becoming a bore? But the truth is that both of these commercials should cause equal outrage. The reason that it was Shaked and Buganim who blew my fuses has nothing to do with my latent homophobia - but rather with their explicit crudeness.