The champions of the Rule of Law in Israel, surely had reason
to celebrate on the day the Attorney General announced his
decision to instruct the police to investigate Shas leader,
HaRav Ovadia Yosef. His alleged violations included the
prohibition against slandering one's fellow; clause 4)a( of
the Order for the Prevention of Terror; clause 288 of the
Penal Law forbidding the offending of a public worker; clause
192 of the Penal Law which forbids making threats of
How happy those champions of the Rule of law were that day.
How proud. Their cheers and victory cries were heard all
over, beginning from the Likud gentry and ending with the
defenders of everything foul from Shinui.
A wave of delight engulfed them all. Mortal enemies suddenly
united under one banner. This was an unprecedented victory
for the Rule of Law, the best chance to prove the supremacy
of the Rule of Law to the people.
After the police had finished dealing with ministers,
justices, Knesset members, lawyers, doctors, senior
officials, military and police officers, a former prime
minister and the President of the State, the Israeli people
who long so much for the Rule of Law were served a luscious
desert, a famous rabbinical figure.
The Attorney General didn't take the serious implications of
his decision lightly. In his explanation, which he presented
at the announcement of the decision, he said that he wouldn't
have made such a decision, had the law enabled him to
determine differently. However, he had no choice.
The law, he said, compels him to decide as he did. The basic
legal principle that all are equal in the eyes of the law, is
stronger than all of his inner sentiments.
"I would have been very happy had I been spared the need to
make such a decision, and had the context in which the
remarks were made enabled me to rule otherwise."
However, to his dismay, the context left him no alternative.
"It is forbidden for one who is involved in enforcing the
Rule of Law to evade his obligations, especially from his
responsibility to the mission imposed on him, no matter how
hard it is."
It is no wonder, then, that the champions of the Rule of Law
reacted with unrestrained glee. However, as befitting the
prevalent trend in the country toward affectation, nearly all
of the celebrants added that they were sorry that we had
reached such a situation, but the recognition of the
supremacy of the Rule of Law, and the basic legal principle
that all are equal in the eyes of the law was the most
But the great day of the champions of law and order is also
the day on which the Israeli judicial system has been
revealed in all of its paltriness and shame.
Ha'aretz thought ahead a bit: What would happen if the
rift between the Left and Shas deepened to the point that
Shas would leave the Left, and not support ludicrous
compromises in the framework of the peace process?
A purely logical consideration led the editor of
Ha'aretz to the conclusion that it's not a good idea
to put HaRav Ovadia Yosef on trial.
"It's not fitting to use the criminal framework in order to
put the leader of Shas in his place," he determined. "We
mustn't forget," the editor of Ha'aretz hints in his
editorial "that Harav Ovadia Yosef has always preached
against bloodshed, and his political movement doesn't espouse
And what will be with the Rule of Law? What will be with the
important principle that "all are equal in the eyes of the
He has a smashing answer for that question: "The Israeli
judicial system grants the Attorney General a broad field for
consideration, and he isn't obligated to try everyone who has
violated the law. When politics are involved, he should not
become involved in questions of freedom of speech, even in
In order to grasp the extent of the weakness and absurdity of
Israeli law, whose victory so many unfortunate people now
celebrate, this statement has to be read over and over
The Attorney General announces that the law leaves him no
alternative but to instruct the police to investigate Rabbi
Yosef, an opinion held by all of the legal experts in the
However, the editor of Haa'retz, with a mischievous
wink reminds all of us that there is nothing more flexible
than Israeli law.
True, it is very important to make it clear to the rabble
that all are equal in the eyes of the law. It is also
important to prove that the law is above all else. But it is
even more important to recall that in the name of the law one
can reach the opposite conclusion.
Before the Attorney Genral decides that the "context in which
the remarks were made doesn't enable him to decide
otherwise", he shouldn't forget that he also has a totally
opposite option. "The Israeli judicial system grants the
Attorney General a broad field for decision, and he is not
obligated to try everyone who has violated the law."
The supremacy of the law is very important. But the supremacy
of the flexibility of the law is even more important.
On the day of celebration of the victory of Israeli law and
the strengthening of the important value of "equality in the
eyes of the law," as expressed by the decision to relate to a
prominent and admired Rav in Israel as just another person,
it is worthwhile to look at the other side of the coin, which
charges HaRav Yosef with the offending of a public
The existing law forbids offending an official by means of
gestures, words or deeds. If one offends him, he is liable to
be offended, and that's not so pleasant. Really, a very nice
And what about someone who is not a public official? The fact
that Rav Yosef insulted Sarid would not have interested the
enlightened and egalitarian judicial system of the State, if
Sarid had been just anyone.
Is there any more incisive evidence of inequality in the eyes
of the law, than the arbitrary differentiation between a
public official and someone who is not a public official?
This is the embodiment of absurdity. Rav Yosef will be forced
to undergo investigation by the police for a misdemeanor
based on inequality in the law, and in that manner, the
principle of equality before the law will be expressed.
The Rule of the Law has indeed won, but this victory has also
disclosed the wretchedness and absurdity of the victor.