What Kind of Message Is Israel Sending to Women With Its State Prosecutor Pick?

Haaretz Editorial
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Amit Aisman speaks at Haifa University, 2017.
Amit Aisman speaks at Haifa University, 2017.Credit: Haifa University Spokesperson's Office
Haaretz Editorial

It’s hard to understand the considerations driving members of the state prosecutor search committee, who unanimously recommended Amit Aisman for the job Sunday even though he has skeletons in his closet.

Aisman, the Haifa district prosecutor, previously served as State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan’s deputy for special affairs. He is considered a brilliant jurist, but two offensive comments of a sexual nature led the Civil Service Commission to open an investigation against him. The investigation ended with a recommendation that the Justice Ministry’s director general hold a disciplinary process for conduct unbecoming a civil servant. She concluded that he had spoken vulgarly, and placed a reprimand in his permanent record.

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Despite knowing all this, the search committee decided that out of all the prosecutors in Israel and all the people who had applied for the position, Aisman was the right person at the right time. “The committee was persuaded that these comments, which were made many years ago, aren’t typical of his work and behavior and don’t amount to an ethical, normative defect that would prevent him from serving as state prosecutor,” the panel said in a statement. It added that Aisman expressed regret and promised to speak respectfully on the job.

It’s not just that the panel recommended a candidate with a history of warped attitudes toward women for such a sensitive post. It added insult to injury with a record of inappropriate conduct that reveals a problematic attitude toward women. What message is the committee sending to female prosecutors, and to women in general, with such a recommendation? How is the public’s faith in the justice system, in its deliberations and decisions, supposed to be bolstered by having the prosecution headed by a man who isn’t untarnished?

Is it conceivable that the panel members didn’t ask themselves the necessary questions? Is a man who was caught saying things of the sort that Aisman said suitable for promotion to the position of state prosecutor? And how does promoting a man who treats women in a derogatory fashion contribute to the struggle against domestic violence?

How is it possible that in 2020, after the #MeToo revolution, and with Israel’s government led by a criminal defendant who is waging an incitement campaign against the justice system, the committee recommended someone in order to prevent injustice from the inside, did not see fit to intervene to halt the promotion of a man who demonstrated derogatory attitudes toward women.

Regrettably, Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn, who views himself as having joined the government to stop injustices from the inside, thought he should not intervene to prevent the promotion of a man who made disrespectful remarks about women. Instead, he welcomed the appointment, while adding a lame reservation about Aisman’s comments. This is a terrible recommendation, and the cabinet must not move forward with Aisman’s appointment.  

The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.

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