A Justice Minister Who Doesn't Stand Up for the Justice System

MK Moti Yogev wants the Supreme Court to rule selectively: against Palestinians, and in favor of Jewish settlers; Justice Minister Shaked must loudly and clearly condemn his incitement.

Amos Biderman

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked last week addressed the blunt remarks made by her Habayit Hayehudi colleague, MK Moti Yogev, about a Supreme Court justice. She said elected officials should weigh their words very carefully and ensure “fruitful, constructive and respectful” dialogue. While her condemnation was weak and late in coming, it was still enough to calm the dangerous atmosphere that has developed against the court.

It’s just a shame that, in the same breath, the justice minister added that the judiciary has assumed powers it was not given by law. Even if Shaked wants to criticize the courts, she should recognize that the brutal assault Yogev is leading requires her to show restraint and statesmanship.

Following the decision of the High Court of Justice to issue an interim injunction against the demolition of the homes of terrorists, Yogev wrote on Facebook two weeks ago that Justice Uzi Vogelman had “placed himself on the side of the enemy. He is protecting the rights of murderers, thus preventing a deterrent punishment and endangering life.” Following Yogev’s statement, which triggered harsh comments about the justice on social media sites, Vogelman was given personal protection.

The remarks by Yogev – who in July called for a bulldozer to be taken to the High Court of Justice after the court decided to demolish the illegal Dreinoff buildings in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Beit El – are problematic not just in style, but mainly because they reflect a basic misunderstanding of the role played by the top courts. The role of the High Court of Justice is to carry out and exhaust procedures through which various sides can be heard and advance their arguments, particularly in cases involving the demolition of the homes of terrorists, which constitutes collective punishment of members of their families and of innocent neighbors.

The duplicity of Yogev, who sought to go easy on illegal settlement homes built on land privately owned by Palestinians and yet simultaneously sought the demolition of Palestinians’ homes – even if it harmed innocent individuals – is an indication that his criticism is not substantive. Instead, it relates solely to his desire to have the court rule selectively: against Palestinians, and in favor of Jewish settlers. But in a democratic state, the court’s role is not to fulfill a one-sided political need, but rather to ensure the rule of law, which prevents injustice and murderous anarchy.

This dangerous misunderstanding is not Yogev’s alone. Through his positions, he represents the extreme settler right-wing, for whom the rule of law is just an obstacle on the path toward achievement of its goals. Justice Minister Shaked must loudly and clearly condemn the forces of incitement against the court in order to protect the judiciary, rule of law and democracy.