A Judicial Ruling That Shames All of Us

We lost our basic values along the way, somewhere between the years of occupation in the West Bank and our self-victimizing trips to Auschwitz.

Uri Misgav
Uri Misgav
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Uri Misgav
Uri Misgav

I’m shamed by the ruling of the High Court of Justice that struck down the amendment to the anti-infiltration law. I’m embarrassed by the fact that my country required the convening of nine justices in order to explain to it what is self-evident.

I’m ashamed of the unanimity of their decision, which proves the fact that the whole issue was self-evident. I’m ashamed that they needed an expanded forum, using weighty legal and constitutional arguments. I’m ashamed of the fact that only 20 months after my elected representatives passed this awful decision, the judges had to explain to the legislators, in their learned and convoluted wording, that “the incarceration of the illegal migrants and the deprivation of their freedom for three years is a disproportionate and harsh infraction of their rights, harmful to their bodies and souls.”

I’m ashamed of the court’s ruling, since it demonstrates that the court is disconnected from reality and from the public. Its critics are right. When Justice Edna Arbel writes that “we must not forget our basic values,” she clearly indicates that she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. She does not reside among her people.

The truth is that we no longer have basic values. We’ve lost them along the way, after so many years of occupation in the West Bank as well as our endless self-victimization expressed in trips to Auschwitz. We’re only good at wallowing, whether in the ashes of the dead or in the self-righteousness of the living. But locking up men, women and children for three years without a court order seems reasonable to us, even just, appropriate and useful; something we can live with. The fact is that we all lived with the Knesset legislation. Without the High Court’s ruling we would have continued to do so.

That’s why I’m ashamed. I’m ashamed of myself.

I’m ashamed that my country erected a concentration camp in the south, housing thousands of inmates amd fully intended opening another tent camp. The correct label for a place in which people are placed solely due to their belonging to an unwanted group is a concentration camp. Even the British set up a few such camps after the Second World War, incarcerating in them illegal Jewish immigrants to Palestine. In January 2012, the Knesset enabled the construction of such camps within Israel. Only eight members opposed the decision, while 37 eagerly approved the legislation. I have no clue where the other 75 MK’s were during the vote. Maybe they were in the cafeteria. Only eight out of 120. Honorable Justice Arbel, this is what remains of our “basic values.” The judge should climb down from her ivory tower.

It would also be appropriate if the Air Force’s commander would climb down from the cockpit of his F-15. In honor of the New Year’s Haaretz issue, the commander got together with former Air Force commanders and other officers to wax lyrical about their childish display flypast over Auschwitz, capturing a ‘victory photo’ above the clouds. The Saharonim detention center is much closer to their bases and their training grounds. I’m sure the commander and his pilots have flown over it many times. Did they ever consider bombing it or the roads leading to it? Did the commander think of distributing photos to every commander in the IDF, to show them to what depths we have sunk.

The truth is that nobody knows how low we have sunk. What would have happened if the Knesset had permitted the incarceration of illegal migrants and refugees for 30 years? Or if they had decided to execute all of them? Would we still have needed the High Court of Justice to patiently and lengthily explain to us that this is a critical infringement of their rights, damaging their bodies and souls? Would the head of Habayit Hayehudi’s Knesset faction still have promised to “do everything possible in order to restrain the court,” whose transgression was to prefer a “pseudo-humanistic agenda?” One can’t know for sure, so I’m restricted to feelings of shame. I’m ashamed.

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