Precedent: PR Firm Plugs Candidate for Supreme Court

Communications consultant approaches legal commentators in the media who are covering the race for the Supreme Court, offering to help them prepare profiles of Be'er Sheva District Court Judge Baruch Azulay.

"Southern, moderate Orthodox and Moroccan" - that was the way one candidate for the Supreme Court was described Sunday in an email sent out by a public relations firm.

Communications consultant Zvi (Tzvika) Alush thus described Be'er Sheva District Court Judge Baruch Azulay in what is apparently the first time a PR firm is openly promoting a candidate for a seat on the court.

Be’er Sheva District Court Judge Baruch Azulay
Courtesy courts website

Alush approached legal commentators in the media who are covering the race for the Supreme Court, offering to help them prepare profiles of Azulay. He said the judge is unaware of the campaign, and added that he is promoting Azulay because he knows the judge's brother-in-law.

An email sent from Alush's office to reporters lists "people who have seen fit to praise Judge Azulay from Be'er Sheva, a candidate for the Supreme Court."

On the list are eight names of people from judicial circles who know Azulay professionally, as well as their home and cell-phone numbers. Among the names are retired Supreme Court Justice Jacob Turkel, and retired presidents of the Be'er Sheva District Court Gilad Giladi and Yehoshua Pilpel.

Turkel said yesterday: "I can talk about Judge Azulay, but I don't know any PR firm. I am not aware that my name appears on a list of references of any kind sent from a PR firm to promote Judge Azulay's candidacy."

Said Giladi: "This is the first I've heard of this. It's not my business to say anything about Judge Azulay either way, no matter who I am. That's why they have a selection committee and it should chose the best [candidate]."

Alush promised in the email that he would be sending more materials including the names of Azulay's family members, to be interviewed by the media.

Azulay was among the seven candidates on the new short list drawn up last week for positions on the Supreme Court bench, released by MK Gilad Erdan, attorney Pinhas Marinsky and David Rotem - members of the Judicial Selection Committee. Six of the seven are of Mizrahi origin.

Azulay did not respond to a request by Haaretz for comment.

Following Haaretz's query to the courts administration, and after Azulay was told this report would be published, Alush said: "Family members called and asked that nothing be done about it for now."

The courts administration said yesterday: "The judicial system knows nothing about such activity, and of course does not organize public support for one or another candidate. We hope the report is incorrect."

The emphasis on Mizrahi candidates comes following public criticism over the lack of such judges after the retirement of Justice Edmond Levy from the bench.