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The Shachar Mizrachi Effect

By Moshe Feiglin

Translated from Ma’ariv’s NRG website

It is impossible not to make the connection between the intentional running over of the policeman this Friday night by an Arab car thief and between the Shachar Mizrachi story.

A number of years ago, police officer Shachar Mizrachi felt that his life was in danger when an Arab car thief attempted to run him over. Mizrachi shot and killed his attacker and was sentenced by the court to 15 months of imprisonment. He appealed to the High Court – and the justices, headed by Chief Justice Dorit Beinish, doubled his sentence to 30 months.

The police officers who tried to arrest the Arab car thief threatening to run them over this Friday night remembered the Shachar Mizrachi precedent well. Not one of them wanted to end his career in jail. One officer was run over, smashed against the windshield, thrown into the air and seriously injured. I do not know the implications of the police officer’s injuries: Will he remain crippled his entire life? That is probable. It is not easy to bounce back from such severe injuries. It is Beinish and the justices who added their votes to the Mizrachi verdict who are responsible for the cheapening of the lives of the police officers.

It is not only the police – it is also our soldiers. The High Court rulings on the procedure for arresting a suspect make it extremely difficult to take a suspect by surprise. This has made the lives of our soldiers cheaper than those of the enemies of our state.

Remember the law proposed by MK Yariv Levin that would require a Knesset hearing for all High Court candidates? It was buried by the Prime Minister. The law dictates that the public’s representatives, who more or less proportionally represent the spectrum of views in Israeli society as they were expressed in the elections, would ask the candidates various questions. What do you think would be the fate of a candidate who, when asked if he/she considers it legal for a police officer or soldier who feels a direct threat on his life to shoot to eliminate the threat, would answer that they have no such right? Would that candidate advance past the hearing? If Justice Jubran (ed: who, last week refused to sing the national anthem at an official state event) would be asked if he would be singing ‘Hatikvah” at official ceremonies and he would answer in the negative, would he progress past the representatives of the voters?

It is impossible to escape the feeling that the disconnection between the judges and society eventually engenders legal decisions that express scorn for the lives of Israel’s citizens.

We can certainly hope that the Hearing Law will be brought up once again for Knesset approval. New Chief Justice Grunis has a more modest approach to the role of the High Court, but this is still far from solving the root of the problem: The strongest system in Israel – the system that appoints itself and is not subject to public scrutiny – cannot hinge on the integrity of one particular justice.

The fundamental problem is the complete disconnect between the High Court justices and society. It will not be solved by changing the Chief Justice. The status of the High Court will continue to suffer until the public feels that the body that is supposed to protect it truly represents society and its values.

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