Israel’s kangaroo court system

“A great deal of human cruelty and perversity is based on the rule of law. In our century , we have been witness to the justification for some of the worst human behavior in history. [On the other hand] One must always see the consequences of the law’s application, and if those consequences are unjust, evil or immoral, the Torah rejects that path.” [Rabbi Berel Wein].

By way of an introduction, a few not so atypical headlines:

” Israelis “level of trust in the judicial system at 17-year low, report finds” [Jerusalem Post – Sara Rubenstein 11/06/2018].

“Israeli law enforcement woefully lax, says study by Chief Economist” [The Times of Israel – Simona Weinglass 9/11/2018].

” More than 90% Complaints Against Police Not Investigated, Ministry Says” [Haaretz – Yaniv Kubovch” 9/24/2014].

“investigate the Police” [Jerusalem Post -Editorial 08/25/2018].

“Selective prosecution: In Israel, not all citizens are created equal” [Mag + 972 – Lisa Goldman 4/17/2014].

“Israel’s descent into corruption as seen by Eliad Shraga, ‘national plumber'” [The Times of Israel – David Horovitz 9/4/2018].

“Corruption in Israel – how it got so bad” [The Times of Israel” – Marc Schulman 12/31/2014].

Arye Rattner, PhD of The Center for the Study of Crime, Law and Society penned his insightful and exhaustive study, “The Sanctity of Criminal Law; Thoughts and reflections on wrongful conviction in Israel” during 1996.

The subject author’s conclusion is startling, to say the least. “The criminal law in Israel is in many ways an exception. It suffers from many deficiencies and from a great deal of unwillingness to admit its own errors to an extent that make some of us wonder about the sanctity of the criminal law. While according to the Jewish tradition even God can be mistaken, according to the Israeli judicial system courts do not err.”

On the 15th June, 1998, a 29 year old woman, Margalit Har-Shefi was arrested and convicted of failing to prevent the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, while acquitting her of the crime of providing the means for the assassination. The prosecutors made several claims to substantiate their assertions:

[a] She knew Yigal Amir, who was convicted for the crime, from her studies at Bar-Ilan University who informed her on several occasions that the “Din Rodef” [law of the pursuer] applied to Rabin and consequently he intended to do so with a gun in his possession, which he carried with him.

[b] Apparently, there had been a news broadcast following the assassination informing listeners that a man from Herzliya had murdered Rabin. Har-Shefi called Amir’s home to verify the validity of the news. Consequently the prosecutor “deduced” that Har-Shefi knew Amir planned to kill Rabin and did not take any reasonable steps to prevent him from doing so.

[c] Judge Lidski maintained that the evidence suggested that Har-Shefi took Amir seriously, and did not regard him as a liar or day-dreamer and the numerous occasions on which she argued with him.

[d] Judge Lidski “declared upon sentencing “that Har-Shefi knew of Amir’s intention——and that she did not appear to have objected” since she wanted to visit him during his arrest. There was also the consultation she had with Rabbi Avner on the question of “Din Rodef”.

It is known that the maximum sentence for the offense for which Har-Shefi was convicted is two years in jail.

Iakov Levi is a psycho-historian, whose “The Mary Magdalene of the Israeli Horde” appeared on December 10, 2003. As such, he applies psychological theory in the interpretation of historical events. In investigating the judgment in the case of Har-Shefi, he deals exclusively with his “interpretation of the unconscious contents that are dictating the collective acting out, and with the symbols activated by the events.”

He has no doubt in his mind, that in the collective mind of the Israelis, Margalit Har-Shefi is perceived as the instigator of Rabin’s assassination. In the days before the murder, she had been very active and vociferous in expressing her views against the Oslo agreement.”However, she was not accused of being the instigator of the murder, because there was no evidence for supporting such an accusation.”Levi correctly points out that in a democratic country, no one can be sentenced on the grounds of perception and Group Fantasies, but only on the grounds of facts and evidence.”Therefore, she was accused of knowing of the murderer’s intentions, but not reporting.”

Hence, in Levi’s opinion, the “case against her is very weak.”He recognizes, as her lawyers correctly pointed out, even if she had heard Yigal Amir saying that he intended to kill Rabin, who would have taken such a statement seriously?”

Consequently, Levi deduces the Court to rule according to Group Fantasies of her having been the instigator, but since they could not sentence her on the grounds of the collective perception, they stated that “she knew, but she did not tell”, relating to Amir’s testimony, that he uttered the given sentence in her presence.”

From the ever insightful Sarah Honig, we obtain a different analysis, but having the same conclusion. ” Only Israeli judges posses infallible preternatural penetrating powers to ferret out a girl’s deepest and darkest secrets, as demonstrated with the Margalit Har-Shefi case.”[Jerusalem Post, October 29, 2010]

Following her arrest in 1995, Har Shofi’s ordeal lasted for many years during which she lost several appeals. She was imprisoned on March 21, 2001.At the end of the day, it was her word against the opinion of the judges. That this so, is simply because there was not “a shred of corroborating evidence against her.”

Amir’s other friends, expressed the same rhetoric, as did the Shin Bet agent – provocateur, without being prosecuted. Over time, Har-Shefi’s parents were subjected to hate mail. To further emphasize the injustice, Sarah Honig draws attention to the case of Yasra Bakri , resident of the Galilee Village of Bueina, who was acquitted in 2005 for the identical accusation; and which resulted in a suicide-bomber detonating a bus and a loss of 9 lives. One can only be filled with disgust in that there was no comparable evidence in Har-Shefi’s case..

On September 28, 1998, the NY Times published , “Friend of Rabin’s Assassin is Sentenced”, three years after the event. The sentence for 9 months in prison was declared for “failing to prevent the slaying”. According to the Times, Judge Nira Lidski said that had Ms. Har-Shefi taken reasonable measures to prevent the crime, the despicable murder might never have been committed. With this form of speculation, one could equally postulate, ” If Rabin had not given the command to shoot at the Altelena, that to might not have happened.

As recalled by Atar Hadari in his, “Benzion Netanyahu, The Altelena, and ME”, Once the ship [Altelena] was off the shore of Tel Aviv on June 22, Ben-Gurion gave the order to open fire. He had to give it three times. The first soldier said he ‘d not come to Palestine to kill Jews. The second wavered and and then likewise refused. The third was Yitzhak Rabin, who accepted the order. A shell hit the ship and it caught fire. In the ensuing skirmish, sixteen Irgun members and three IDF soldiers died.”

From Sarah Honig’s, “Another Tack: The ‘Altelena’ sequel” of 26/07/2007, yet another anecdote. “The men on board – mostly idealistic Holocaust survivors intent on joining their reborn nation’s struggle for independence – dove into the sea under a hail of gunfire. Some were hurt, but the bullets still kept coming, even though the boys flailed desperately among the waves.Yarom was a youthful Palmah soldier under the command of Yitzhak Rabin, who eagerly orchestrated and diligently oversaw the attack on the Altelena.”

Professor Eliav Shochetman, is neither a politician or a journalist. As a noted professor of law, he is particularly well qualified to respond to his own question, “Who is Really Responsible for Not Preventing the Murder of the Prime Minister?” His paper was published in NATIV of September, 1998.

At the outset, the professor informs us that according to the legal tradition in Israel, no one has ever been convicted of failure to prevent a crime without admitting to the fact, and Margalit Har-Shefi’s conviction was based solely on assessments.

He commences his arguments with the following questions. Could something have been done to prevent the murder? Was there someone who knew of Yigal Amir’s murder plans who did not report this to the proper authorities, as required by law?

His answer: The court’s conviction was based on paragraph 262 of the Criminal Code of 5736-1977, yet this is not enough to easily answer the initial question, since the convicted party never admitted to knowing of the planned murder, and she also was not convicted of any other violation that would signal her criminal involvement in the murder of the Prime Minister.

Yet another argument posed by the Professor – the weak point in the legal judgment was that the heads of the General Security Services had in their hands the very same information as did the guilty party regarding the statements of Yigal Amir; and on the basis of such information, they were not able to predict in advance the events of the murder.”How was Margalit Har-Shefi supposed to know what the heads of the GSS were not able to know, even though they had the same information in hand?!”If Raviv knew of this in advance, , it is likely that this matter was known to his handlers in the GSS.

Bottom line for Professor Eliav Schochetman. The Attorney General should order a police investigation and the opening of legal proceedings against everyone, including the GSS, who knew about the plans for the murder and failed to do what was required to prevent it.”—the principles of the rule of law require the undertaking of such an investigation—-.”

Writing in the Jerusalem Post of June 18, 1998, Uri Dan and Dennis Eisenberg’s “Margalit Har-Shefi and Aviashai Raviv- Bring Raviv to Trial”, obviously concurs with Professor Eliav Schochetman. This paper essential deals with the disgusting politics surrounding the awful chain of events.

The authors refer to Gillon’s replacement by Ami Ayalon as “The only glimmer of light in this murky world—“They make the point that “If a minor cog in the Rabin affair – then surely the master-in-chief, and those who employed and trained Raviv, should also be punished for their wickedness.”

“A tale of two pardons” by Jonathan Rosenblum of Jewish Media Resources, which was published around August, 2001, features the pardon of Har-Shefi by President Katsav, reducing Margalit Har Shefi’s sentence from 9 months to 6 months and comparing it to Bill Clinton’s presidential pardon of Marc Rich. Rosenblum’s worthy conclusion:

“Katsav provided one more occasion for spasmodic expressions of hatred on the Left and one more flight of fancy that if only Rabin had not been assassinated, peace would have been achieved. That fancy depends on ignoring the disillusion with Oslo that had already set in by November, 1995 – virtually every pole showed Binyamin Netanyahu ahead of Rabin – and implausibly imagining that Rabin would have ever offered Arafat more, or even anything close, to what Ehud Barak would offer five years later.

Neither Margalit Har-Shefi nor Moshe Katsav can be blamed for destroying those illusions.”

About the Author
Alex Rose was born in South Africa in 1935 and lived there until departing for the US in 1977 where he spent 26 years. He is an engineering consultant. For 18 years he was employed by Westinghouse until age 60 whereupon he became self-employed. He was also formerly on the Executive of Americans for a Safe Israel and a founding member of CAMERA, New York (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America and today one of the largest media monitoring organizations concerned with accuracy and balanced reporting on Israel). In 2003 he and his wife made Aliyah to Israel and presently reside in Ashkelon.