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Supreme Court Approves Three Disputed Candidates

10 January 2003

By Yisrael Ne’eman

Eleven Supreme Court justices (out of 14) sat to decide whether five different candidates should be allowed to run in the present election.  Two issues were technical while three were considered political.

The Central Election Committee (CEC) had decided that Moshe Faiglin and Shaul Mofaz of the Likud were inelegible due to certain technicalities and were upheld by the Supreme Court decision.  Faiglin had a conviction for involvement in a violent right wing demonstration and the minimum waiting period in the aftermath for him to run for the Knesset had not elapsed.  Former chief of staff Mofaz had not allowed for the minimum ‘cooling off period’ of six months from the time he left the army (Aug. 11, 2002) until the elections (Jan. 28, 2003).  Hence the disqualifications, but this was the easy part.

Extreme right wing former Kach member and Kahane supporter Baruch Marzel was approved by the CEC but appeals were made to the Court due to his former support of racist, anti-democratic policies. He was approved by the Court.  Ahmed Tibi, known for his ardent support of the Palestinians in their conflict with Israel and Azmi Bashara who met with the Hizbollah leadership and urged their continued struggle to eliminate Israel were also approved.  Tibi and Bashara were disqualified by the CEC and now were cleared for election.

Many claim that in the name of democracy it is best the three ‘political’ cases were approved.  The question is how far can one stretch democracy.  True all three claim they no longer hold the positions attributed to them or that they were misinterpreted by the press and the public.

They apparently learned from the Kach party ban in 1988 when an outwardly racist anti-democratic platform was advanced, made public and not denied.  Simultaneously the far left Democratic List for Peace was approved.  Mohammed Mi’ari was known to favor a bi-national state (meaning Israel’s elimination) while Matti Peled (a former general) wanted a two state solution.  The list was approved.

This time in the political cases one can be fairly assured the truth is not being told.  All three candidates have acted in one manner and now claim their real views are otherwise (Bashara and Tibi swear they are loyal to the state and Marzel suddenly has no problems with ‘innocent’ Arabs).  The Court is giving more weight to statements made in the present when the candidates have an obvious interest in saying ‘the right’ things than in past actions taken.  They ignored the old saying, “action speaks louder than words”.

It is possible the ordeal of approval by the CEC and the Court will have a moderating effect on the three, but let doubt be cast.  After all the truth was not made pre-eminent at the moment, making it that much easier to reverse direction back to the previous radical actions of only a few months ago.

Israeli democracy is under attack from both extreme left and right, while the entire society is under massive pressure on the security and economic fronts.  Sometime democracy has to be limited just a bit to ensure everyone else survives.  Here the example of the ‘freedom of everything’ including Nazis and the extreme left tore the Weimar Republic to shreds and led to the Hitlerian regime.

The Supreme Court seems to be aiding in a march to the edge of an abyss in the name of democracy and in its belief that declarations of moderation really do replace previous extreme radical actions.

And hopefully this observer will be proven completely wrong.