Israel’s Jocular Right-wing Journalists and Their ‘Final Rulings’

Carolina Landsmann
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Right-wing activists rally for a bill to legalize West Bank outposts outside Israel's High Court of Justice.
Right-wing activists rally for a bill to legalize West Bank outposts outside Israel's High Court of Justice.Credit: Emil Salman
Carolina Landsmann

The morning after Likud’s Ofir Akunis was appointed justice minister, an illegal decision that was later overturned, I happened to listen to a radio show with hosts Irit Linur and Kobi Arieli. They discussed the events surrounding this appointment, sounding lighthearted, exchanging jokey comments, pleased with themselves.

They explained that nothing had happened, maybe a tiny little crisis at most, while mocking the gravitas in the descriptions of the event by other media outlets. “The end of democracy,” sang Linur, rolling with laughter as the program’s opening notes sounded in the background. “The fall of a bastion,” Arieli joined in. Fun on the right wing.

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It’s cool not to worry. Nobody, heaven forbid, wants to join those sourpusses who are anxious about the violation of a coalition agreement, or those whose world collapsed following the violation of Clause 43D in the Basic Law on the Government (amendment: rotation governments).

I too want to send the attorney general to hell, I too want to exercise my right not to know his name, and certainly not the name of the Knesset’s legal adviser. I want someone to give me back the time we’ve lost the tens of thousands of times we’ve heard the name Mendelblit over the past two years.

How is it that this dull redhead has become the hero of Israel’s drama? It’s simply unbelievable. Would you go to a movie where the protagonist is the attorney general?

I too want to be dismissive about laws. The hell with the Basic Laws. Why should a random group of ordinary legislators decide what people are allowed or forbidden to do at some future time?

I too want to cry out against the injustice dealt by courts to run-of-the-mill citizens, to curse judges and officials, to cry out against the bureaucracy, to shatter dogmas and fight institutions.

I too want to live the real life, to live and speak the language of common people, not that of jurists, to say things as they are, to act according to natural justice, to the wisdom of the masses, using healthy logic.

But then you realize there’s a giant gorilla rampaging in the kingdom of the Bibi-ist right wing. After all, who needs jurists and laws and clauses when you have such a simple case of a prime minister facing criminal charges in matters involving moral turpitude? But in this case, Linur and Arieli, cool, humorous and lighthearted, grasp at Clause 18 in the Basic Law on the Government.

Yes, it turns out that the Bibi-ist common sense has no problem including clauses of this law in their folksy spiel, or embracing phrases such as “conclusive” or “final ruling.” In other words, it’s all a matter of tone, of how you say things. With the right intonation, Avichai Mendelblit can be Bruce Willis in “Die Hard.”

Change an octave and the lighthearted Linur suddenly becomes a pedantic sourpuss, droning on about a final court ruling and a ruling forbidding cabinet members from serving after being indicted, a ruling that neglects to mention prime ministers. Irit, what does a final ruling mean anyway? Who talks like that?

Just imagine the scorn heaped on supposed privileged legalism afforded the supporters of a left-wing politician accused of breaking the law. They would justifiably ask: Why are you different from ordinary people? Would you let somebody remain a supermarket cashier if he was charged with serious offenses?

Of course not, but you’re entitled to anything. What’s more obvious and clearer than someone who’s accused of such crimes being booted out? What would the wisdom of the masses tell us, what would healthy logic demand if, say, Ehud Barak were a prime minister accused of criminal wrongdoing? Wait a minute, which Barak? You mean the guy Yair Netanyahu called a pedophile from Pedophile Island?

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