Last week’s High Court decision to open Route 443 to both Jewish and Arab traffic generated lots of squawk. However, another decision, only months earlier, to forbid “mixed” traffic failed to excite much interest. The petitions in both cases were nearly identical, yet the rulings appear completely contradictory. One common denominator, though, does stand out – both decisions are detrimental to Jews. No way can the High Court of Justice be accused of inconsistency – not even when it blatantly applies diametrically different logic to different litigants.
Nearly a decade ago the IDF banned residents of settlements like Dolev and Talmon from using the highway that bypasses Beitunya – a village near Ramallah with quite a murderous record. The second intifada raged then and the defense establishment reckoned that, for their own safety, it would be better for Jews not to make their way to Jerusalem via a route adjacent to hostile hamlets. The joker in the pack is that the road in question is a detour ordained directly after the advent of Osloite bliss to deliberately keep Jews from chafing against their new “peace partners.”
The long and the short of it is that the road constructed to protect Jews from terrorist predations was closed to Jews – to protect them from terrorist predations. Some 6,000 residents of the Binyamin region’s westerly section were therefore forced to get to Jerusalem by travelling in the opposite direction. What should have been a half-hour car ride was prolonged to at least an hour-and-a-half. Instead of going eastward, they were forced to travel west and then south via a convoluted course to Modi’in, from whence they enter Route 443 and, at long last, turn east toward the capital. A 10-kilometer drive was effectively quadrupled.
NONE OF the promises to construct a shortcut to 443 were kept. The partially begun project was transformed into yet another no-Jews-allowed road to alleviate pressure on local Arabs, the very ones who menace Dolev Jews. At long last, with no relief in sight, the latter petitioned the Jewish state’s High Court to allow them to use the same road as their Arab neighbors. The state’s position was that this would constitute “grave danger” and that, despite the undeniable inconvenience, Jews must circumvent the thoroughfare barred to them.
This time the court cheerfully chimed in with the IDF tune and judged that while Jewish drivers are indeed put out, the damage to them is “proportional.” Nobody quite explained by which criteria said proportions were determined, but the verdict claimed that for the sake of the Jewish plaintiffs’ self-preservation they must head for 443 to reach Jerusalem on a traffic artery unmenaced by Arab snipers, fire-bombers, stone-throwers and ambushers.
It seemed sensible. The court came off as solicitous and compassionately intent on saving Jewish lives. But not for very long. The court subsequently accepted the petition of Arab residents from villages flanking Route 443. They demanded that restrictions on their access to the route be lifted because they were inconvenienced. The fact that the restrictions were imposed because of lethal terror attacks on 443 motorists from these very villagers was downplayed. IDF warnings about the “grave dangers” which opening the road would provoke were disregarded. Two of three justices ruled that the quality of the villagers’ lives was “disproportionately” disrupted and had to be rectified, the danger notwithstanding. Again, definitions of what constitutes “disproportion” were absent.
WHAT IS, however, indisputable is that Dolev residents are incomparably more inconvenienced. Still, obviously one group’s lesser inconvenience carries more political weight than another’s greater inconvenience. Yet this is more than an unfortunate case of bias and double standards.
The court’s very veracity, sincerity and integrity are called into question. Its ostensible concern for the settlers’ well-being has been exposed as bogus. Thereby are erased even the last ragtag remnants of faith in the High Court’s judicial impartiality, which perhaps somehow precariously survived in the hearts of the more trusting sorts among us.
How come? Because despite ruling that it’s unsafe for Dolev residents to use the same road as their Arab neighbors, the highest court in our land now forces these very same Dolev residents to share another road – 443 – with equally bloody-minded Arabs. Get it? Mixed traffic near Beitunya is a legal no-no, but mixed traffic on 443 is a legal imperative. The very Jewish petitioners, whom the court prevents from travelling the short way to Jerusalem lest they encounter Arab terrorists, are compelled to encounter Arab terrorists on the preposterous – but “proportionate” – tortuous detour the justices oblige them to take.
Were our proverbial Lady Justice indeed truly blindfolded and genuinely uninfluenced by assorted leftist postmodern agendas – to which, alas, most of our justices are both personally and politically predisposed – then the above travesty would be highly improbable. In a more equitable legal climate any such parody of justice would be inherently indefensible.
But our Lady Justice dons a sheer blindfold for show only. The justice it dispenses isn’t evenhanded. Any assessment cannot but confirm that in the Dolev case the High Court preferred the convenience of Arabs. Likewise in the 443 case the court preferred the convenience of Arabs.
In the Dolev case Jewish security was the pretext for inconveniencing Jews. In the 443 that cover was blown and the sham exposed, because here Jewish safety concerns were overruled – both regarding all Jewish drivers and passengers but, most specifically and gallingly, regarding the very Dolev residents whom the court pretended earlier to protect.
THIS MAY be ascribed to the court’s auto-anti-Semitism, to its ultra-liberalism, to an elitist clique grotesquely unrepresentative of the people and serially alienated from them, to a mind-set hijacked by the political fringe, to suicidally skewed political correctness, to justices who subordinate the existential interests of the population they were sworn to serve to those of unabashedly genocidal enemies.
Some truth may reside in all above hypotheses, but there’s no refuting the fact that from the outset of Aharon Barak’s term as court president, and continuing now under Dorit Beinisch, the court portrays Israeli beyond-the-Green-Line presence as “belligerent occupation.” That’s the premise upon which all its decisions are based.
It’s a far cry from the perception of Barak’s predecessor, Meir Shamgar, who noted that there never were borders between Israel and the hitherto nonexistent Palestinian state. Moreover, Israel possesses valid claims to areas beyond the 1949 armistice lines, making them in fact “administered” rather than “occupied” territories. The differentiation legitimizes Israeli presence in what after all is the cradle of Jewish nationhood.
The inclination to behave like aloof EU adjudicators and view the Jewish return to the Jewish heartland as “belligerent occupation” is our Supreme Court’s original sin. All its ensuing assaults on common sense spring from that.