Freedom of Recreation

The judges who refused to issue orders to close down two Tel Aviv nightclubs due to suspicions of drug trafficking understand the life of the city and uphold human rights where it is not usually found.

Judges in two separate cases in Tel Aviv have refused to issue orders to close down two nightclubs in the city. The decision of Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court Judge Mey-Tal El-Ad Kerbis regarding the Hahatul Vehakelev club, and of Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court Judge Guy Hyman regarding the Block club, are a victory for individual rights.

They join other judicial decisions criticizing abuses by the police of citizens arrested during social protests in Tel Aviv and in demonstrations in Sheikh Jarrah in Jerusalem.

In their ruling, the judges in fact determined that nightclub owners and operators and their clients should not be collectively punished because of suspicions of drug trafficking. In the two above cases, the club owners and operators were not charged with selling drugs. Hyman was particularly critical of the police, who refused to discuss with the club’s owners ways to work together to stop drug trafficking, although the club was willing to do so.

Hyman’s decision stressed the damage that would be done to the civil rights of the club’s operators and its guests. Under the aegis of the clubbers’ freedom of movement and expression also comes the freedom of recreation.

Hyman’s decision is admirable not only because of its contribution to civil rights, but also because the court was able to realize the significance of night life to people who want to have a good time, and to the city.

Hyman described the Block as a club that advances the culture of music and dancing. He said night life also included positive elements like quality music, the chance to escape from the daily grind, and the attraction of tourists. But he did not idealize them; he did not make light of the risks present there.

These rulings indicate that the judges who made them understand the life of the city and bring human rights discourse to places where it is not usually found.

Hyman alluded to this when he mentioned the constitutional reasoning behind the High Court ruling on the discriminatory nature of the Citizenship Law, noting that he doubted that the issue raised there bothered any of the club-goers. It is to be hoped that now that nightclubbers’ ability to have a good time is enshrined in the recognition of human rights, it will lead them to be bothered more when the human rights of others are infringed.