Letters to the Editor: Israel's Supreme Court, the Oslo Peace Process

Yigal Amir reenacting the assassination of P.M. Yitzhak Rabin in Kikar Malchei Yisrael in Tel Aviv (today's Rabin square), November 7, 1995
HARNIK NATI / Government Press Office

My father, Justice Cheshin

In response to “From Political Appointments to Hit Lists: The Untold Story of How Israel’s Supreme Court Was Born,” by Ofer Aderet (October 2)

In a follow-up to the article by Ofer Aderet, I would like to make the following comments. My father, Justice Shneor Zalman Cheshin, served as a member of the first Supreme Court, from the moment of its inception in 1948 until his death in 1959.

Among the members of the court, which numbered five Supreme Court justices, my father was the only one who had previously served as a judge during the period of the British Mandate, in the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s and District Courts. All the other members of the first Supreme Court had a legal background as lawyers, with the exception of Rabbi Simcha Assaf, who had no legal training.

My father was a healthy man and had no medical problems (Aderet writes that “Four out of five suffered from serious illnesses at the time of their appointment,” but doesn’t say who they are … ). My father suffered a heart attack only about two years after that bizarre meeting with Attorney General Yaakov Shimshon Shapira, during which he accused my father of a right-wing political bias.

The background for that stems from a libel suit by a member of the [right-wing] Etzel paramilitary group against the [left-wing] newspaper Al Hamishmar and its editor Mordechai Bentov. Bentov was appointed a minister in the provisional government established in 1948, and he opposed my father’s appointment to the Supreme Court.

My father was never involved in political activity, neither before nor after the establishment of the state, by dint of his position as a judge. Moreover, before the state’s establishment, in February 1948, he swore allegiance to the Haganah [pre-state military force], but was released from allegiance to that organization due to his age and his position. In 1950 my father had a heart attack. He suffered from heart problems until his death in 1959.

Amir Cheshin

Kibbutz Hulda 

The murder of the Oslo process

In response to “Failure’s Silver Anniversary,” by Moshe Arens (September 12)

Moshe Arens writes: “When 30 Israeli civilians were killed in a suicide attack on the eve of Passover, March 22, 2002, at the Park Hotel in Netanya, the Oslo process came to an end.”

But the Oslo process did not “come to an end”: The Oslo process was murdered, and the first shot was fired by Baruch Goldstein on February 25, 1994, when he committed the first mass terror attack at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, murdering 29 Arab worshipers and wounding 125 others. An act of terror that is known as the “Tomb of the Patriarchs massacre.”

On April 6, 1994, at the end of the Muslims’ 40 days of mourning for that massacre in Hebron, Hamas committed the first mass terror attack against a civilian population. Later it committed many more such attacks. That was the start of the erosion of the Oslo process, which came in the wake of the Hamas response to the massacre in the Tomb of the Patriarchs. The last shot in the Oslo process was fired on November 4, 1995, when Yigal Amir murdered [Prime Minister] Yitzhak Rabin with three gunshots to his back.

The final nail in the coffin of the Oslo process was hammered in by Israel’s prime minister, who promised the voters at the time to observe the Oslo Accords, but as is usual for Benjamin Netanyahu – his promises aren’t binding on him at all, only on his listeners.

Avi Goldman

Kfar Netter

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