The Bottom Line / Doing the Justice Stroll

On September 1, 1993, Baruch Bagizda's life changed. Both his legs were crushed in a work accident at the Aviv matza factory were he worked, and the National Insurance Institute determined that he was 88 percent disabled.

In June 1994, Bagizda filed a suit for damages from his employers and the NII. This was a fairly simple case, but it took Judge Jonathan Adiel seven years to complete the trial.

The hearings were held once every few months, and were sometimes canceled, sometimes at the judge's behest and sometimes at the behest of the NII's lawyers, who wanted to keep delaying the judgment day. Judge Adiel? He is soon to be appointed to the Supreme Court.

To Aharon Barak, president of the Supreme Court and the man responsible for the judicial system, these many delays - which completely destroy the concept of justice - are not of great importance. What's important to him is "everything is justiciable" and that there should be "judicial activism," but what of the holdups? No one really cares. Let them wait.

This week a manager of an insurance company told me of a client who came to him with a great big grin. "I got the ruling," he declared. Apparently back in 1997 he had filed against a business that had not paid him for goods received. Today, eight years later, he won the suit but the business meanwhile has gone under. There's no one left to pay up, and now the client is hoping to get something from the insurers.

Israel has become a paradise for rogues and charlatans, who simply don't pay. They know that when the ruling finally comes around, either they'll have flown the coop or the business will have been passed on to the grandchildren, or they will have become born-again religious or they'll bring documentation of how they're sick and dying and who wants to bother them anyway 10 years after the event? And that's how our legal system slowly grinds down the innocent, the honest and the patsy.

And it's not only businesses that suffer, not just our economic life. Even matters of life and death and settled in court, for example, the appeal against the separation fence, which has taken months in legal wrangling.

The situation has got to a point where 16 workers at Tambour who were fired five years ago are now suing the state because of the endless foot-dragging. Five years ago they filed a suit in labor court to have them reinstated at the factory, but there has yet to be a ruling on the file. Judge Elisheva Barak is also responsible for these delays. Yes, wife of.

Yosef Lapid, when he was justice minister, said that "red tape is a cancer." He even submitted a list to Supreme Court President Barak of the 14 judges guilty of the most chronic legal delays. "I demand an end to this disgrace," Lapid said. But the disgrace continues under an apathetic management.

The prophet Isaiah phrased it even better. Berating the people for their wicked ways, he versed it with a parable of a vineyard and in Chapter 5, verse 7, he said: "and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression."