Thursday, February 15, 2007

Because of my absence I missed what I understood was a pretty scandalous speech of president Katsav, the conviction of Haim Ramon for indecent conduct, and the terror attack in Eilat. I returned home to see a new Justice Minister being sworn in. Although he undoubtedly is a legal expert the main criterium for choosing professor Friedman appears to have been his venomous public criticism, during the last few years, in the direction of Israel's court system in general and against the Supreme Court in particular. Dov Weisglas, a lawyer and personal friend of Ariel Sharon and one of the trusted advisers of both Sharon and Ehud Olmert, said in an interview, clearly very pleased with the appointment of professor Friedman, that the public seems to be more interested in the police chasing the perpetrators of 'classic crimes' such as murders and burglaries rather than bringing white-collar criminals to justice. Not being a legal expert, I disagree. For the security, stability and overall future of the state - and therefore for the security and overall wellbeing of its citizens - corruption, abuse of power, the decay of democratic institutions etc. are extremely dangerous. The corruption of society and the rise in poverty/crime/violence are not a cause and maybe not a result of but definitely somehow linked to the level of violence, apathy and corruption that we witness on an almost daily basis among those who are supposed to lead us. That is why I believe that white-collar and other crimes committed by high-ranking officials and politicians should be dealt with at least as harshly ( I would suggest even more harshly, but that might be problematic from a legal point of view ) as crimes committed by any other citizen. It is about time that elected and other officials here become aware of their status and of the influence and consequences that their actions have. Maybe Quod licet Iovi non licet bovi should be the other way round: a public figure should know that his behavior - at least as long as he is in office - ought to be beyond any possible suspicion. In the meantime, you can read some background information about the appointment of the new Justice Minister, including his very questionable comments following the conviction of his predecessor. Politically, I believe, the only points that Olmert might have scored with this appointment were gained among those enemies of the Supreme Court ( and of the rule of law's supremacy ) who will never ever vote for him anyway. The story that moved me most after I returned home was the death of Eran Almog z"l, the son of Didi and Major-General ( res. ) Doron Almog. May his memory be a blessing.

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