Taking Leave of Chief Justice Beinisch

The Supreme Court has been in extremis for a long time, and the yearnings for the days of its glory, for the 'constitutional revolution' and 'judicial activism,' were exaggerated.

In a short while, the president of the Supreme Court, Dorit Beinisch, will gather her belongings and aspirations - those that were fulfilled and those that were dashed - and leave the courthouse for the last time. Every retirement involves some sadness but also a certain amount of relief. It is best for her to leave now, to sit idly by and say to herself, let me not see the demise of the High Court of Justice.

This is not a painless death nor one that was unexpected. The Supreme Court has been in extremis for a long time, and the yearnings for the days of its glory, for the "constitutional revolution" and "judicial activism," were exaggerated.

I recently saw the film "The Law In These Parts" that tells the story of the Israeli jurisdiction in the territories. It contained nothing new, but what was already known was enough to shock one anew. The former Supreme Court president, Meir Shamgar, gives his version in the film; and there is nothing to be proud of in the way the court acted for 43 years.

The High Court dared in only a few cases to save the poor man's estate from the teeth of the occupation. In most cases, it cleansed the vermin on all kinds of distorted grounds. This is a depressing story about an evil reality and what it did to good people.

It was sometimes difficult to differentiate between the Supreme Court and a military tribunal which is basically a circus, and whoever takes part there is either a contortionist or a clown. To ask it to produce a just ruling was like asking the firemen's band to play a symphony. Justice is indivisible, even by the Greater Land of Israel.

The prestige of the court has declined and now it is being buried in the dust. Its rulings have become a theory that is no longer taught, only put off and disregarded. The rabble that already has control of the other two authorities is now making an assault on the third - trying to conquer it on its home ground with Trojan donkeys.

The problem does not lie with whoever is able to pass the political test - in the Knesset or in committee - on behalf of certain bodies that elect the judges, but with those who will agree to present their candidacy. Which candidate will be ready to undergo the humiliation, to be made a mockery of, in a cross-examination by Robert I., Uri A., Zeev E., Ofir A., Danny D., Yariv L., Faina K. and David R. - a long line of whippersnapper clergymen. And anyone who does succeed in getting their approval will not be fit to serve as a judge.

During her term of office, in her loneliness, the court president raised her eyes to see whence help would come. No help could be expected from [Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu, who is acting like [the Russian Prime Minister] Valdimir Putin toward [Ukrainian President] Viktor Yanukovych and asking for payment and credit for being keeper of the seal; it will not come from Defense Minister Ehud Barak whose throne will be established forever on ruins; it will not come from [Justice Minister] Yaakov Neeman, whose footstep causes the earth to become parched; nor will it come from [Likud Knesset members] Dan Meridor and Benny Begin who never tire of covering up, and of cleaning up before and after.

The woman who was not afraid and stood up to Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Shamir during the litigation of the Bus 300 affair [in which the terrorists were killed by Shin Bet security service operatives] does not need a certificate of integrity or courage, but she is not capable of overcoming alone. Now she is leaving and her court will grow even smaller.

When the door closes behind her, it would be worth her while to do something symbolically important. Two weeks ago, Bassam Aramin published an article in this newspaper describing how a soldier had shot his 10-year-old daughter, Abir, in the head outside her school in the village of Anata, and killed her. A short while ago, Beinisch, together with Justices Edna Arbel and Ayala Procaccia, decided to close the case. The responsibility for the killing is that of the soldiers, the justices ruled. The decision to open fire involved negligence and was not justified, they stated, but the four and a half years that have elapsed make it impossible, they said, to bring the soldier who fired and his officers to trial.

This case is not closed. "Abir's blood is crying out from the earth," her father wrote with his heart bleeding. And we have a request: Dorit Beinisch should telephone the family, as a private citizen, or go to visit them, and say to the mother and father that she too can hear the cries of their daughter.

קראו כתבה זו בעברית: פרידה מהנשיאה בייניש