Judging Justice Joubran

Today, Salim Joubran retired at the compulsory age of 70 as the only Arab Justice in Israel’s Supreme Court. He was a very learned and highly respected Justice by the members of the Supreme Court and by the President and Prime Minister of the State of Israel.

Justice Joubran ws born in Mandatory Palestine in 1947 in the city of Haifa to a Maronite Christian family of Lebanese origin. He lived among Jews in Haifa and received his law degree from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1970.

Then, Judge Joubran served as judge of the Magistrate’s Court for eleven years and was appointed to the Haifa District Court for a period of ten years.

Following that, Salim Joubran was honored as an appointee to the Supreme Court in 2004…the first and only Arab to sit on the bench. There are fifteen Justices on our Supreme Court.

A few months ago, in June 2017, he was appointed Deputy Chief Justice of our Supreme Court… an honor that he cherished.

In many of his decisions he voted for what he deemed legal complaints from the Arab population. He was the only Justice of the Supreme Court who objected to the suspension of Member of Knesset, Hanin Zouabi, for her inappropriate behavior in publicly spitting on a policeman. The other Justices voted in favor of her temporary suspension from the plenum of our Parliament.

He was not partial to Arab complainants but he gave them every benefit of doubt, realizing the prejudices of some of his fellow Justices on the Court.

Surprisingly, although a conservative Christian, he was very tolerant of the LGBT community in Israel and supported the rights of gay men to find surrogates to bear them a child.

In 2013 he became the first Arab judge appointed as Chairman of the Central Election Committee.

Pointing out that only eight percent of judges in Israel are Arabs, in spite of the fact that our Arab population exceeds one million, he said “Israel needs to do more to reach real equality between Arab and Jewish societies”.

With the retirement today of Justice Salim Joubran, he will be replaced on the bench of our Supreme Court in Jerusalem by a fellow Christian Arab, Justice George Kara.

In newspapers there was a very touching photo of Chief Justice Miriam Naor, planting a kiss on Justice Joubran’s cheek.

He will be missed in his retirement by the entire legal community in Israel for his many years of faithful and devoted service to the laws of the State.

Although a Christian, he followed the Jewish principles as stated in the phrase “Tzedek tzedek tirdof”… Justice, Justice shalt thou pursue.

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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