News flash: Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit has announced his intention to somehow strip absconded former Knesset Member Azmi Bishara of Israeli citizenship.
It’s high time, but then again, there’s no time like election time to appear to be doing the belated right thing.
This, however, in no way guarantees that the right thing will indeed be done. Bishara can safely count on the Zionists’ highest court to rise to his defense despite the likelihood of offending plebeian concepts of fairness. Israeli judges habitually dismiss the clueless masses as too dense to fathom legal intricacies mandated by the greater good – as defined by superior sophisticated souls.
A prime example is the Supreme Court decision last September obliging Israeli taxpayers to continue shelling out their hard-earned shekels to pay a monthly pension to Bishara, the Arab-Israeli ex-parliamentarian suspected of active wartime treason against the very country that keeps subsidizing his sedition. Bishara allegedly spied for Hizbullah – in return for financial reward – during the Second Lebanon War.
Once apprised of the investigation, he skedaddled and refuses to return for trial.
EVEN BEFORE he fled the short arm of Israel’s law, Bishara never made any bones about his unbridled antagonism toward the Israeli collective that bankrolls his anti-Israel activities. This elected legislator time and again thumbed his nose at our laws. He illegally traveled to enemy capitals such as Beirut and Damascus. There he incited his audiences to defeat the Jewish state whose skewed democracy shielded him, consistently upholding his inalienable right to undermine its very existence.
Yet – attention Sheetrit – in the time-honored tradition of Israeli jurisprudence, the justices unanimously rejected a petition to divest Bishara of the Israeli citizenship he systematically exploited and abused and to forthwith discontinue all pension payments to him.
The judicial panel – comprised of Chief Justice Dorit Beinisch and justices Edna Arbel and Miriam Naor – determined that “the necessary prerequisites don’t exist for such measures.” The gist of their convoluted rigamarole is that innocents deserve their pensions, that Bishara is presumed innocent until proven guilty, but can’t be proven anything unless he’s tried and he can’t be tried because he ran off.
No kidding. Their Learned Honors really noted that the criminal investigation cannot be pursued to its conclusion because the suspect escaped. Because the investigation cannot be concluded, Bishara cannot be prosecuted. Because he cannot be prosecuted, Bishara cannot be convicted and may therefore enjoy Israel’s continued largesse for his entire lifetime – on the condition he stays away from Israeli jurisdiction so as not to be tried and convicted, thereby enabling him to remain free.
Simple isn’t it? Because Bishara is on the lam, he stymies legal procedures against himself. So long as these legal procedures are stymied by his own actions, Bishara remains eligible for all perks the Israeli system owes its law-abiding retiree-lawmakers. This is about as straightforward as the exchange between Dear Henry and Dear Liza in the old nursery rhyme that starts off with Henry moaning to his better-half about a hole in the bucket. She retorts:
So fix it dear Henry, dear Henry, So fix it dear Henry, dear Henry, fix it.
With what should I fix it, dear Liza, dear Liza, With what should I fix it, dear Liza, with what?
This dialogue continues for many more verses. Liza suggests the hole be stuffed with straw. Henry notices the stalks are too long. Liza sagaciously advises they be cut. Henry doesn’t know with what. She tells him to use a hatchet. He says it’s too dull. She orders him to sharpen it. He doesn’t know with what. She points to the stone. He complains it’s too dry. She proposes he wet it. He asks with what. Infinitely patient, she answers the obvious:
With water, dear Henry, dear Henry, With water, dear Henry, dear Henry, with water.
But Henry inquires: With what should I carry it, dear Liza, dear Liza, With what should I carry it dear Liza, with what?
Liza: Use the bucket dear Henry, dear Henry, Use the bucket, dear Henry, dear Henry, the bucket!
Henry: There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza, There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, a hole.
And so, dear Sheetrit, because of that big whopping hole in our national bucket, Bishara continues to enjoy celebrity and accolades in the Arab world while we foot his bills by order of our most august legal authority.
LEST WE forget, Bishara was already awarded NIS 200,000 in “severance pay” and “adjustment allowance” upon quitting the Knesset, regardless of the questionable circumstances of that “departure.” Political correctness behooves us to pretend that all’s on the up-and-up, business-as-usual, even when it’s crystal-clear that it’s nothing remotely of the sort.
Additionally, NIS 7,000 is deposited each month into Bishara’s account while he recruits more foot-soldiers for Hizbullah and peddles tactical ploys against the state that treats him as a loyal citizen, though he daily proves otherwise in its face.
It’s altogether evident that Bishara took flight with the connivance of Israel’s top law enforcement echelons. They couldn’t have been so naïve as to suppose that a trip abroad in the midst of a damning investigation is anything but a one-way ticket out of their grasp. Perhaps they had convincing reasons for wishing to get rid of the miscreant rather than expose confidential sources, allow him to turn the courtroom into a three-ring circus, play the martyr, inflame the anyway hyper-radicalized Israeli-Arab sector and make himself the object of ransom demands by kidnappers (as does murderer Marwan Barghouti).
But there’s a yawning gap between misguided reluctance to prosecute and continued remuneration – with full legal sanction. Thus far, Bishara only lost one daily newspaper subscription and NIS 8,406 annually in free phone services to which ex-MKs are entitled. Why? Because Bishara wasn’t tried. Why? Because Bishara refuses to stand trial.
Of course, contrary to Liza and Henry’s reality, we aren’t doomed to be helplessly bound by our own circuitous reasoning. The Court’s hole-in-the-bucket rationale wasn’t unavoidable. Bishara’s pension payments could easily be suspended pending his return to stand trial. Should he be exonerated, he’d be fully reimbursed. Formal rights can be reliably upheld while justice is still done and is seen to be done.
The Supreme Court’s persistent evasion of common sense only serves to reinforce the intuition of all too many Israelis that our judiciary will deliberately drill any variety of holes into any proverbial bucket just to vindicate its preference for any pretext over the existential paramounts of this beleaguered nation.
So what do we do about that, dear Liza? Got any answers, dear Sheetrit?