There is no such thing as being half pregnant, and the same applies to equality
It’s either a state of all its racists or a state of all its citizens. So, you choose. Because there is no other option
By Kobi Niv • (Translated by Sol Salbe)
There’s one thing, that [Mizrahi commentator] Avishai Ben-Haim and Shas are absolutely right in their arguments against the Supreme Court — the fact that the absolute majority of Supreme Court judges have always been, and still are today, Ashkenazim is an injustice and a distortion that should have been corrected a long time ago.
These things have nothing to do with the latest ruling in the Arye Dery matter, which is fair and just, nor with the reform proposed by Minister of Justice Levin, which is bodgie and dangerous. The ethnically warped and unjust composition of the supreme judges must be corrected quickly. Because just like they could find six women, and rightly so, to be among the top 15, so exactly it is possible and there should be at least six Mizrahim among the 15. And there is no doubt that among the thousands of lawyers and judges in Israel there are more than six who are worthy of it.
And it really needs to happen, must happen, for two reasons.
The first is that indeed justice, as the cliché goes, should not only be done, but also seen to be done. And all the citizens who come to through gates of the Supreme Court to seek justice should see and feel that before them stand judges who constitute a diverse cross-section of Israeli society, meaning that the judges in their case are people like themselves, and not those who come from an elitist or ruling social layer.
The second reason is that judges, I hope they forgive me for mentioning this, are human beings like everyone else, and they too, despite what they think of themselves, are affected by prejudices, which arise from their environment, just like each and every one of us. And since a significant portion of the judges’ considerations are personal interpretations of the law, of what constitutes reasonableness and when there is doubt, and so on, it is clear that in general a female judge will be more inclined than a male judge to understand the psyche of a woman who has been sexually harassed, and a judge of Ethiopian origin will be more inclined to understand the feelings of a citizen suffering from excessive policing, than a Mizrahi judge and certainly an Ashkenazi one.
Thus, for example, in the verdict in Arye Dery’s appeal against his conviction and imprisonment, the then Supreme judges Levin, Mazza and Kedmi wrote, with more than tinge of racism, that Dery allegedly brought to Israel from his country of origin the “bribery subculture typical of backward countries and inferior regimes”. But was there a connection between Dery’s guilt or innocence in that trial and his country of origin? Of course not.
That is why Avishai Ben-Haim and Shas’ MKs are right in their contention. Except that there’s a big catch to it. For, these people, the MKs of Shas and its fanss like Ben-Haim, who rightly demand equality and non-discrimination in the composition of the judges of the Supreme Court, have been maintaining for forty years, since the establishment of Shas and until today, an absolute discrimination, a complete exclusion, of women in their party, and not a single woman has ever served on their behalf in the Knesset. Do you want equality towards yourself? You too should practise equality towards others. Because just like there is no such thing as being half pregnant, you cannot have equality by a half either.
Do you want equality? Be my guests, but not only in the composition of the Supreme Court, but everywhere in Israel. In the Supreme Court, in candidate lists for the Knesset, in soccer teams, everywhere. A minimum law of five Mizrahi judges in the Supreme Court, a minimum requirement of one woman in every five candidates on electoral tickets for the Knesset, a regulation according to which any football team that does not have at least two Arab players in the extended squad will not be able to participate in the league games, the cancellation of the Law of Return and much more.
It’s either a state of all its racists or a state of all its citizens. So, you choose. Because there is no other option.
Original Haaretz (Hebrew edition) translated by Sol Salbe, Middle East News Service: