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Israel's Top Court Will Go Down in History as the Enabler of Apartheid

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
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A makeshift sign at the entrance to Mitzpeh Kramim outpost celebrating the supreme court ruling, on Thursday.
A makeshift sign at the entrance to Mitzpeh Kramim outpost celebrating the supreme court ruling, on Thursday.Credit: Naama Grynbaum
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

Following the battle between “Anyone But Bibi” and “Only Bibi,” about the only other subject that attracts attention in Israeli politics is an unrelated issue that is becoming the one matter of principle still left. It’s the war between those who revere the Israeli judiciary and its enemies, and one’s position on the subject depends completely upon one’s political camp.

If you’re an “Only Bibi” proponent, you’re against the courts, and if you’re “Anyone But Bibi,” you revere the judiciary. It’s tempting to join the second, enlightened, liberal camp, which is attempting to protect the judiciary from the violent threats directed at it from the right wing. Tempting but impossible.

This past week’s Supreme Court ruling in which the court decided that the Mitzpeh Kramim settlement outpost should not be evacuated only demonstrates the extent to which defending the court is no longer possible – and how irrelevant the horror scenarios and prophesies of doom spread by the liberal camp are when it comes to what would happen if the right wing went after this revered institution.

The liberal camp is holding fast in its support for the judiciary as one would clutch a compass without which they would lose their way. But the compass’ path has been long lost. It’s broken, or if we are to admit it, never worked properly. The judiciary would purportedly be the banner that the enlightened camp embraces, but that banner is in tatters.

The supreme test of the judiciary, well beyond any other issue – even more so than its handling of the crucial case of Netanyahu – is its handling of the occupation, the issue that more than any other defines Israel, the conduct of which is shameful and cowardly. Recognition of the land thieves from the Mitzpeh Kramim outpost and the reward which they have been handed is just the latest in an endless string of cases. One cannot support a court that systematically comes down on the side of thugs and criminals, that grants approval for war crimes and shows contempt for international law.

One cannot even become upset over threats by its opponent to aim a bulldozer at the court. If the court is destroyed, what exactly would happen to the country other than damage to real estate? Would Israel become a country that ignores international law? Would it become a country that condones apartheid? That whitewashes war crimes? That nurtures Jewish supremacy? What would happen exactly if these enlightened, exalted judges are replaced by less exalted and enlightened ones?

Even the assumption that, like in the United States, the Supreme Court justices here are divided between liberals and conservatives is misleading. In both countries, the conservatives have a majority. But in Israel, even the liberals aren’t liberal.

Who supported the land theft at Mitzpeh Kramim? Noam Sohlberg, of course, but also those liberals Daphne Erez-Barak and Isaac Amit. They, too, thought Jews were allowed to steal from Arabs. They too think the settlers are permitted everything because they’re Jews.

When it comes to the Supreme Court, there is one thing that cannot be denied: There’s nothing like it in exposing Israel’s true face. There are self-righteous liberals in Meretz, the Labor Party and Yesh Atid, in addition to the Supreme Court. They all speak more nicely than the savages on the right.

They’re afraid of the threat of a bulldozer targeting the court. They believe that the “octopus of corruption,” as journalist Mordechai Gilat called it in Haaretz (Hebrew edition, July 29), is Knesset member David Bitan, and above him, of course, Benjamin Netanyahu, who is the most terrible of them all. But not the Supreme Court justices who grant approval to crime families and encourage the establishment of neighborhoods of crime in the occupied territories.

When the annals of the present time and those that preceded it are written, the Supreme Court will be recorded on the negative, shameful side of history, as a founder and enabler of the apartheid state. Netanyahu’s crimes and Bitan’s offenses will then look as pure as the driven snow compared to them.

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