Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

10 Ellul 5761 - August 29, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Observations: Equal Opportunity
by Y. Freind

Justice Minister Meir Sheetrit is planning to spring another little revolution on us, although it is likely to have a very different effect.

Since taking office Sheetrit has been trying to bring in a "constitutional revolution" in the area of traffic tickets and to effect changes in the way judges are appointed.

"There are currently 132,000 unlicensed drivers on the road in Israel. This is ridiculous. I have received heart-rending letters by people asking for clemency. These people are not hardened criminals, but they have accumulated large fines. There is no reason for this to happen," said Sheetrit, in a special interview with the journal, Orech Din, published by the Israeli Bar Association.

Sheetrit's recommendation to drivers who have accumulated substantial debts in unpaid traffic tickets is not to pay them at all, saying "this is the best advice I can give . . . " Meanwhile he plans to launch a revolution in the area of alternatives to fines and legal alternatives in cases of traffic violations.

Sheetrit intends to push through a law recently tabled in the Knesset as quickly as possible and to complete legislation on this issue within two months.

"I was appalled to find out that because fines double every six months, citizens can accumulate fines amounting to tens of thousands of shekels. When the time comes to renew their license every five years, they are unable to because they can't afford to pay the fines. As a result, 132,000 Israelis are driving without a driver's license."

Sheetrit also intends to change the approach to the issue of fines. Doubling unpaid fines once is acceptable to him, but he does not agree to the current practice of doubling fines every six months, calling this a "draconian and unjust penalty."

Once the new law passes, he will bring traffic fines issued in court in line with fines issued by police so that citizens will no longer be surprised by the accrued debt.

"Every citizen will receive an annual statement of unpaid fines in order to prevent a situation in which drivers arrive at the License Bureau and are presented with a very unpleasant surprise," said Sheetrit.

As Justice Minister, Sheetrit also lodges criticism against the way judges are selected: "If you are the son of someone famous and have the right connections, you get selected. If not, your chances are slim.

"I'm putting everything on the table, and I would like to see a change. Everyone should have equal opportunity. I would like to see objective tests as well, something that does not depend on whether I know you and whether you have connections," says Sheetrit resolutely.

Sheetrit's big dream is to give everyone an equal opportunity in terms of key positions in the legal commonwealth, just as in sports. "In Israel," he says, "athletics is the most visible example of equal opportunity. On the playing field it doesn't matter who your father is, whether you're Ashkenazi or Sephardi, Arab or Jew. If you can kick the ball well, you get put on the playing field. If you can't, you sit on the bench."

Sheetrit would like to transform the legal system in Israel into a "playing field" as well and to put outstanding jurists on the lineup regardless of their connections.


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