Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

20 Tammuz 5761 - July 11, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
Observations: Elisheva Barak to Spend Five Weeks in Germany Despite Backlog -- She Just "Happens" to be Barak's Wife

by M. Levy

Concerns over "improper administration" as a result of apparent or alleged nepotism have been brought before the High Court recently as part of appeals to prevent Prime Minister Ariel Sharon from sending his son on diplomatic assignments. Since then several reporters pointed out a similar problem that could develop within the legal system itself where appointing relatives has become an established practice and an open secret.

This parallels an article recently published in the legal section of Globes. The financial daily reports that court presidents generally use various ways of dealing with slow judges, such as not allowing judges who delay handing down rulings to take vacations or to participate in advanced study programs, ". . . but this tough policy somehow skipped over the vice president of the National Labor Court, Elisheva Barak, who is not known to be particularly efficient."

Recently the High Court President's wife received approval for a five-week course of study in Frankfurt. The many cases awaiting her ruling will have to continue to wait.

The newspaper reports that the following incident can be used as an indication of the vice president of the Labor Court's output: In 1998 Elisheva Barak issued a ruling in a suit filed in 1994. When the decision was handed down, one of the sides requested that it be repealed or changed. For Barak, this matter was not particularly pressing: she took two years to hand down another ruling. One year ago the same party filed a request with the Labor Court for an early decision. To bring the case to an end, the other side agreed to the request. Since the request was filed another year has passed, and no decision has been issued.

The court administration was asked by Globes why the trip was approved, despite the standard policy of not allowing judges who delay handing down a ruling to take vacations or study leaves.

The reply: "Barak was summoned personally by the Faculty of Law at the University of Frankfurt to take part in Labor Department activities there. It should be noted that the professors at this law faculty are among the leading academics in the field of European labor law and there is no need to belabor the importance of this opportunity to meet with them to develop and enrich labor law here in Israel. In addition the Vice President was invited to tour Germany's various labor courts. By studying their system and evaluating the possibility of implementing aspects of it here, there can be no doubt that everyone stands to benefit. She will also participate [together with German professors] in a conference in Oslo on work relations. The Vice President, who speaks German, was chosen to make the trip because she was invited there personally due to her long- standing acquaintance with the German hosts, after preparing to make such a trip for several years. The trip is at her own expense [in terms of vacation days and is not considered part of a sabbatical or a study-break] and is not being financed by the court administration. We view this trip as a one-time opportunity to forge contact and unmediated ties with the `framers' of progressive German labor law, both in theory and practice, and it is clear to us that the information to be gained from this trip is relevant to cases pending in our own courts. It goes without saying that backlog rulings and more will have to be completed during the course of the vacation."

Nevertheless, the newspaper maintains, this trip is not consistent with the policy regarding slow judges. Globes notes that Justice Minister Meir Sheetrit, who addressed the issue during recent visits to magistrate courts in Tel Aviv and Ashkelon, said that he would not approve vacations, study breaks, lectures and absences-or- leave for book writing for judges who delay rulings. "For now, based on the case of Barak, it does not seem that Sheetrit is serious about carrying out his threats."

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