Former Judge Backs Arab Judge Over Israeli Anthem Scandal

Former Vice President of the Haifa District Court and Religious-Zionist, Menachem Ne’eman, calls Joubran 'reaonsable,' says it is obvious that Israeli Arabs cannot identify with the anthem.

Supreme Court Justice Salim Joubran received support from an unlikely source Thursday, in the wake of criticism leveled at him for refusing to sing Israel’s national anthem at a public event.

Former Vice President of the Haifa District Court Menachem Ne’eman who is a member of the Religious-Zionist community and who served alongside Joubran, told Arutz Sheva that “we must remember that Israel has a 20 percent minority, and it is obvious that they cannot identify with the contents of the anthem.”

Salim Joubran - Tomer Appelbaum - 29022012
Tomer Appelbaum

“One cannot expect people to act against their own believe and sing along to things they do not identify with. They do, however, need to respect the occasion, and Judge Joubran did just that.”

Ne’eman further stated that he knows Joubran well, calling him a “reasonable person with views that are well-known,” adding that “if the Israeli Arab representation in the Knesset acted more like him, the situation would look entirely different.”

Despite his support for Joubran, Ne’eman believes that the anthem as is should not be changed.

“The anthem is not a pair of socks, and its wording does not need to be changed, as it does answer our desire as Jews to live in a Jewish state.”

Ne’eman’s statements came a day after Joubran was slammed by right-wing politicians for refusing to sing the national anthem at the retirement ceremony of Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch.

Joubran, the only Arab on the Supreme Court, did not explain why he did not sing "Hatikva" at the end of the ceremony with the rest of the judges on stage, but rightist MKs reacted strongly, and some even called to remove him from his post. Friends of the judge say he objects to singing "Hatikva" on principle.

Constitution, Law and Justice Committee chairman MK David Rotem from Yisrael Beiteinu, said he plans to ask Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman to retire Joubran. Right-wing politician Moshe Feiglin of the Jewish Leadership faction of the Likud said that Joubran should return his Israeli identification card and receive resident status only.

Many Arab citizens refuse to sing the national anthem because it only alludes to Jews and the yearning of the Jewish soul for the Holy Land.

Meretz Chairwoman Zahava Gal-On defended Joubran, saying that to "put a Supreme Court Justice through Kahana's and Liberman's loyalty tests is meant to undermine democracy, a regime that has more respect for people than for symbols."