Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

29 Adar II 5760 - April 5, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








Sponsored by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Produced and housed by

Opinion & Comment
Worries about the Rule of Law

The investigation against HaRav Ovadia Yosef for his remarks in his motzei Shabbos talk criticizing Education Minister Yossi Sarid and comparing him to Amolek, try as one might, can hardly be seen as a purely legalistic concern for the rule of law. As much as we would like to believe otherwise, this and other actions of the legal and police establishment are carried out in a way that loudly proclaims that the motives are deeply sullied by extraneous considerations.

HaRav Yosef is as much a political as a religious leader. His remarks are no more incendiary than those of the Leftist icons that he criticizes. If Yossi Sarid proclaims gratuitously and provocatively from the Knesset podium that he works on Shabbos, with full and calculated awareness of the incendiary nature of his activities to some, he is inciting to violence as much as someone else who proclaims that Sarid is a mechalel Shabbos. If Israel Prize nominee (by Education Minister Sarid) Shulamit Aloni compares the rabbinical leaders to Islamic fundamentalists or Roman tyrants, she does not do so as a compliment.

Sarid is no less divisive than the former leader of his party, and he is smarter and more effective.

HaRav Yosef has had a long career and he has never been known to preach violence. Attorney General Rubinstein should have attended enough speeches to know that rabbinical figures speak to encourage directed prayer, and not physical violence.

As Ha'aretz wrote, in recommending that "it is not appropriate to use legal tools to put the Shas leader in his place": "The Israeli legal system gives the Attorney General broad discretion, and he need not prosecute everyone who breaks a law. In political areas he must keep away from interfering with freedom of expression, even in cases that are not pleasant."

This discretion is well known. Prosecutors are able to close a case that has merit simply on the basis that the public has no interest in it. Thus, it is hard to explain the decision of the Attorney General as a dispassionate application of the law, and much easier to understand it as an attempt to intimidate the expression of political opinions that are not desired by those doing the deciding.

Police also choose what and whom to investigate -- and how to investigate them. In the past week they concluded a seven- month-long investigation into the affairs of former Prime Minister Netanyahu with a recommendation to prosecute him.

In the long and very public investigation that they conducted, the police seem to have spared no effort to undermine confidence in their objectivity. Every step of the investigation was reported in great detail in the press, and the media knew about police raids soon enough to be waiting with their cameras. Information about the results was constantly fed to the eager press. It is hard to believe that someone was not out to blacken Netanyahu's name.

Everyone would certainly be happy to believe that these actions and decisions are the professional and objective actions of dedicated public servants. However the age of naive faith in the purity of the motives of the decision- makers has long passed. The doubts that arise must concern anyone who truly worries about the rule of law.

All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.