WITH the ongoing “peace” train chugging apace, much has been written about the seemingly “inexplicable”, counter intuitive behavior of Israel’s leaders, particularly regarding their bowing, scraping and appeasing of foreign players who wish the Jewish homeland ill will. Yes, they do, regardless of their sweet nothings. In fact, what kind of “friends” demand that terrorists/murderers be set free, as a condition for “peace” to spring forth? More to the point, what type of “peace” partners MAKE such demands in the first place? As to Israel’s leaders agreeing to such insanity, well, therein necessitates the commentary. The national tragedy.
Time and again, Israel’s leadership outdo themselves through their mendacious (actionable) behavior, becoming “legal” outlaws in the process – Nullum Crimen Sine Poena: No Crime Without Punishment. A partial listing of recent terrorists/murderers released by PM Netanyahu cries out for Jewish justice – from Israel’s derelict and craven leadership! So much so, stalwart Zionists can’t help but take them to task and upbraid them publicly. To assert that this is a painstaking, depressing and degrading task, well, is to underestimate the gravity of the situation. The “matzav”.
But before we assess the heart of the matter – to garner a clear understanding of how Israel got from there to here – it is worth reviewing some content for contextual heft. Let us now do so, mainly through Israel’s ship of fools and Confronting Israel’s Precarious Future: An Interview With Dr. Martin Sherman.
Onto the (putrid) meat….
The Reported but Ignored Conspiracy of Israel’s Government:
Ariel Sharon, The Role Model of Benjamin Netanyahu
Prologue. The time: June 21, 2005. Imagine [then] Prime Minister Ariel Sharon scanning the Jerusalem Post during a trip to Washington. He knows the Post is about the only Israeli newspaper read by American officials. He sees the weekly article penned by the Post’s most respected political analyst, Caroline Glick. Her article is dated June 21, 2005, just a few weeks before Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza. The article is entitled:
“A coward for a prime minister”
The longest chapter in Machiavelli’s The Prince is on conspiracy. A profound but unreported conspiracy was perpetrated in Israel ten years ago. Strange as it may seem, details of the conspiracy were publicized by [former] Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin in a wide-ranging interview of Ariel Sharon by journalist Ari Shavit and published in the June 5, 2003 issue of Ha’aretz Magazine. The interview contains unprecedented and startling revelations. Indeed, Mr. Rivlin exposed what may arguably be called a criminal conspiracy of Israel’s entire Political and Judicial Establishment! What is more, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu current endorsement of a Palestinian state is the consummation of this conspiracy!
Part I. Introduction to the Rivlin Revelations
Ari Shavit entitled his June 5, 2003 interview of Speaker Rivlin “Courting Disaster,” à propos of the policy of territorial retreat or “disengagement” adopted by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. This policy necessitated a legal or judicial foundation. Abandoning Gaza required the forced expulsion of 8,000 Jews from their homes. Since this involved a basic issue of law, it required the cooperation or collaboration of Israel’s Supreme Court.
Shavit’s interview of Rivlin tells the unvarnished story. Speaker Rivlin not only had much to say about Ariel Sharon’s character, but also about the mentality of Supreme Court Justice Aharon Barak. Sharon needed Judge Barak to “legalize” Israel’s Gaza withdrawal, which amounted to a Jewish cleansing policy. Stated more precisely, Sharon needed Judge Barak’s judicial cooperation because the forced expulsion of Jews from their homes in Gaza was clearly a violation of their property rights, indeed, of Basic Law: Human Dignity and Freedom of which Barak was the principal author!
To legalize the expulsion, the Barak Court simply held that Gaza (as well as Judea and Samaria) are “belligerent occupied territory” to which the Basic Law in question does not apply. But what gave the Supreme Court the authority to designate Gaza “belligerent occupied territory” and ignore that Basic Law? No such judicial power was granted to the Court by any legislation of the Knesset. Chief Justice Barak simply proclaimed the unprecedented dictum that “everything is justiciable,” a dictum that gave the Court virtually unlimited power. This and more is spelled out in the Rivlin interview of June 5, 2003.
Before examining this extraordinary aspect of the Rivlin interview, the fact that political scientists virtually ignored the revolutionary implications of Barak’s dictum suggests they were either suffering from a cerebral vacuity or that most were reluctant to publicly denounce Sharon’s adoption of Labor’s disengagement policy, even though this policy had been opposed by Israel’s highest military and intelligence officials in public testimony before the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee!
However, rather than impugn the intelligence and patriotism of the political science fraternity, let us exercise our intellects and perhaps amuse ourselves by exploring the more interesting scenario of a publicized but ignored conspiracy, even though it may be nothing more than a case of political cowardice and stupidity, characteristics often attributed to Israel’s government and its advisors. We don’t want to be confused with conspiracy addicts.
Accordingly, to clear the ground for a serious and scholarly inquiry, I shall cite the most relevant parts of Mr. Rivlin’s June 5, 2003 Ha’aretz interview and let the reader himself answer the accusatory question, “What’s going on here in Israel?” I hasten to add that the Rivlin interview is by no means dated, for Israel’s current Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is following the Sharon-Barak legacy so candidly exposed by the Knesset Speaker.
Part II. The Rivlin Revelations
Of its many fascinating revelations, most significant are those involving the character of Israel’s ruling elites and the authenticity of Israeli democracy. Only two need concern us:
- Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was a “closet leftist,” and
- Chief Justice Aharon Barak’s dictum that “everything is justiciable” was nothing less than a “putsch,” a coup d’état.”
It was precisely the Barak dictum that “everything is justiciable” that allowed the Court to “legalize” the government’s “unilateral disengagement” policy and the consequent expulsion of Jews from Gaza. This dictum, which virtually transformed Israel into a judicial dictatorship, violates the democratic orientation of the prophets of Israel, who were the primary defenders of the rights of the Jewish people vis-à-vis their government.
For the sake of clarity, I will divide Rivlin’s far-ranging interview into sections and inject only a few explanatory remarks.
Ari Shavit’s Interview of Speaker Rivlin
Shavit asks Rivlin: “Is [Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon tormented by his personal responsibility for the establishment of the settlements and the need to deal with his mistakes?”
Rivlin: “Whereas in the personal realm Sharon is a very sensitive person whose eyes often grow moist, in the national realm he is entirely without emotions. He has no inhibitions. He is a Mapainik without inhibitions, referring to the Mapai party, the precursor of Labor, which was known for its rampant [left-wing (PE)] pragmatism. When he forms an opinion, nothing will stop him. No sentiment and no human commitment will hold him back.”
“Rivlin himself,” Shavit continues, “is agitated and of two minds about the Sharonist shift. In the room of the Jerusalem hotel in which we meet, his voice cracks and his eyes shine as he talks about the shattered dream of the ‘national camp’ and the loss of the Land of Israel. Even though he understands the logic that is guiding his political patron, Prime Minister [Sharon], he is not willing to accept it. He, Reuven Rivlin, will never lift a finger to hand over the Land of Israel. Even if he remains utterly alone, he will prefer to show allegiance to the lost ideal of Ze’ev Jabotinsky and Menachem Begin and to the integrity of the homeland. It is only after some time … that he begins to speak with the same fervor about the subject we are here to discuss: theconstitutional revolution, Supreme Court President Aharon Barak and the threat posed to democracy precisely by the Israeli establishments. The speaker of the Knesset does not mince his words. He talks bluntly and directly about the things that are disturbing him and making him lose sleep [emphasis added (PE)].”
B. The Relationship between Rivlin and Sharon
Shavit: “Ruby Rivlin, you are very close to Sharon. You hold intimate conversations with him. Where is he taking us?”
Rivlin: “Arik is trying to achieve a solution that will put him into the history books as a person who fomented a historical turning point – like Ben-Gurion in 1947, Begin in 1979 and Yitzhak Rabin in 1993. But Arik also understands in the clearest way possible that he cannot achieve a permanent settlement that will satisfy the Arabs. He understands that no one on the Arab side will agree to forgo the areas that he regards as essential for the defense of the State of Israel.
“I refer mainly to areas in the Jordan Rift Valley and to the strip running from Arad to Jerusalem, in the Dead Sea region. Arik is therefore aiming for a temporary settlement. But the temporary settlement he has in mind is far-reaching. He truly intends the establishment of a Palestinian state with territorial contiguity and a true separation between us and 3.5 million Palestinians.”
Shavit: “Are you saying that the moderate Sharon we have seen … is the real Sharon?”
Rivlin: “Undoubtedly. Whether I like it or not, the moderate Arik is authentic. Look, sometimes he zigzags. Sometimes he says things ambivalently, which can be interpreted either way. But to my chagrin, he has passed the point of no return. I can tell you and your readers with certainty that Arik Sharon is resolute in his position that a settlement has to be reached immediately. When he talks about the end of the occupation and about painful concessions, he is not pulling a fast one and he is not lying – unfortunately.”
Shavit: “When did you grasp that this is it, that he crossed the Rubicon?”
Rivlin: “In October. One night he called me into his office and showed me the road map and asked me for my comments. At that moment I understood that we were approaching the moment of truth. That he’s really going for it.”
Shavit: “So deep down he really has remained a Mapainik?”
Rivlin: “Without a doubt. In the end, Arik believes in security above all and is a salient pragmatist, a disciple of Ben-Gurion….
“Look, Arik Sharon has a doctrine of life that is far more coherent than what journalists give him credit for. It’s true that in the past he moved from one place to another. I myself was critical of him for changing certain positions for political purposes. But people here didn’t understand that from the day he assumed the post of prime minister, his security and political outlook was very crystallized.
“He didn’t know, and he still doesn’t know, how to reach a permanent settlement, but he is determined to recognize a Palestinian state and reach a settlement. Think about the fact that when he says the occupation is hard for the people of Israel he is really saying that the occupation corrupts. That we have the right to the land but that we can’t realize it. In this, he is actually accepting the ideology of the left.”
Shavit: “So the person who heads the Likud today is really a Ben-Gurionist?”
Rivlin: “Arik is definitely a Ben-Gurionist. In our conversations, he laughs and calls me the ideologue, and I laugh and call him [Ben-Gurion’s] disciple. But there’s nothing funny about it. It’s completely true. And for me it’s rough, because since October I have been wracked by an inner conflict between my uncompromising belief that all of Zion is ours, and my close friendship with the prime minister. That’s why, when he offered me a cabinet post in his government, I preferred to become Speaker of the Knesset. I told him openly: Arik, we are now on an irreversible collision course. You are a disciple of Ben-Gurion and I am a disciple of Jabotinsky. You are a pragmatist and I cannot free myself of my belief. I will not convert my religion, I told him. I have no intention of converting.”
C. Historic Earthquake
Shavit: “Let’s get back to him. If he is truly serious, as you describe it, there will be a settlement within half a year to a year. That’s not just talk. There will really be a historic earthquake here.
Rivlin: “For many months I’ve been telling my journalist friends that an earthquake is happening. Arik Sharon is serious about the words he is speaking. And the moment you embark on that road, there is no knowing where it will lead, because once a sacrosanct principle is shattered, anything goes. The process is very powerful.”
Shavit: “Give me a scenario. What’s going to happen?”
Rivlin: “There is one thing on which Arik will make no concessions: terrorism. On this subject Arik has no doubts and everyone can trust him, including Likudniks. If there is terrorism, he will not hand over territory. [More Jews were murdered by Arab terrorists during Sharon’s reign than under that of any other prime minister. (PE)]. But if we actually reach a situation in which a solution is found for terrorism, and there are signs that the Palestinians are trying to meet us halfway, he will establish a Palestinian state in the territories held by the Palestinians with territorial contiguity, which could be very significant from the point of view of the Israeli government’s attitude toward the sacred principle of non-evacuation of settlements.”
Shavit: “Are you saying that Sharon will evacuate settlements already in the stage of the establishment of the temporary Palestinian state?”
Rivlin: “It is definitely possible that an impossible friction between certain settlements and the need for a situation in which the Arabs will not pass through our territory and in which we will not rub shoulders with them – that this will thrust him into a situation in which he will make an Arik-style decision that it’s possible that settlements will have to be evacuated.”
Shavit: “I ask again, Ruby Rivlin: Has Arik Sharon accepted the fact that he will evacuate settlements?”
Rivlin: “What he has accepted is that for us to live within borders that make movement possible for them other than through our territory, it will be necessary to reach a decision to evacuate a number of settlements.”
Shavit: “How many settlements are we talking about?”
Rivlin: “When Arik assumed the office of prime minister, and even earlier, in discussions he held with [former prime minister] Ehud Barak, about 17 settlements [in this category] were identified.”
Shavit: “When Sharon mentions painful concessions, is he referring to these 17 settlements?”
Rivlin: “He sees them above all. Arik has made clear and explained a number of times that their evacuation is necessary in order to stabilize some sort of way in which we will be able to reach some sort of settlement. Today we have cantons. Those cantons will be unified and connected. Connecting the cantons will necessitate this blow to the settlement project. It obliges the evacuation of about 17 settlements.”
Shavit: “Are you telling me that Sharon has reconciled himself to the fact that he will evacuate 17 settlements already at the state of the interim agreement?”
Rivlin: “Yes. When he talks about painful concessions, he is talking about a concrete map that some of the Yesha people [referring to the Yesha council of Jewish settlements in the territories (brackets in original] know about and that he has already talked to them about.”
Shavit: “And does Sharon believe that an evacuation on that scale will bring about calm and conciliation?”
Rivlin: “Sharon thinks that it’s necessary to build some sort of relations of trust. Even though, knowing Sharon as I do, I don’t see him placing any trust in the Arab side” (Italics added PE).
Shavit: Not even in Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas]?
Rivlin: “Not even in Abu Mazen.”
Shavit: “So there is a basic problem in placing trust in the Arabs?”
Rivlin: “He has no trust in them (italics PE). Arik doesn’t like them much because he doesn’t believe them. But Arik knows that negotiations are not conducted only with people you believe. Negotiations are conducted in order to solve problems [!?! (PE)]. Look, Arik does not view the Arabs from a position of superiority. He sees the Arabs as people to whom we owe nothing. We owe nothing to anyone who wants to attack and kill us. That side of the issue is of no interest to him. So when he talks about 3.5 million Palestinians, it is not because of their suffering, but because he has reached the conclusion that to go on ruling them is impractical.”
Shavit: “Will he evacuate Netzarim [an isolated settlement in the Gaza Strip]?” (Bracket in original.)
Rivlin: “Arik is ready to pay the price in places where it is necessary to guarantee the Palestinians continuity. There is no such problem at Netzarim. At Netzarim, the problem is that of Netzarim, not of the Palestinians. Therefore he is more accepting of the need to evacuate [settlements] in the Binyamin region than in the Gaza Strip. But the American pressure in the direction of the Gaza District is very heavy” (brackets in original).
Shavit: “And what about the permanent settlement? Will he not forgo the Jordan Rift Valley and the Gaza Strip and the strip between Arad and Jerusalem even as part of a final peace agreement?”
Rivlon: “In my opinion, he will be more adamant on that than on the question of Jerusalem. That is his casus belli. As far as I know Arik, he will not compromise on that issue. To him, these are territories without which it is impossible to defend Israel. But a situation is liable to develop in which the decision about them will not be his to make” (italics PE).
D. New Sounds about Jerusalem
Shavit: “Is it possible that Sharon will also compromise on Jerusalem?”
Rivlin: “I don’t want to believe that. Arik is suffused with a mystical belief about Jerusalem. But when you embark on the road, you will be asked – Will you now ruin everything just because of Jerusalem? I have a musical ear. In one of his recent speeches I heard new sounds about Jerusalem. They worried me.”
Shavit: “So what you fear is that the process will pull him in further than what he himself supposes?”
Rivlin: “When you embark on a trans-Atlantic flight and the pilot informs you that you have crossed the ocean, you can no longer go back to Europe, you have to land in North America. That is Arik’s situation today, without a doubt. Politically, too. He took the risk knowingly and willingly, and he knows he will have no choice but to land on the other side….”
Shavit: “Is it your assessment that the very course Sharon has embarked on will in the end lead to the 1967 borders or something approximating them?”
Rivlin: “That’s more than an apprehension. That’s a clear scenario. Unequivocally (emphasis added (PE). Because once we live in a global village and the American sheriff is the sheriff of the whole world, you can be the world’s greatest ideologue, but you have to take account of the political situation. And from the moment a crack appears in your belief, the crack gets wider and wider. You get into a state of mind that is not amenable to change [emphasis added (PE)].
What Arik is now doing is causing the national movement to largely shed its basic tenets. Even principles that Arik promised me he would uphold just a few months ago have been eroded. We are entering a process here that does not make conditional the end of one stage before the transition to the next stage. We have already recognized the Palestinians’ right to a state and we are talking about the Saudi plan and the right of return. It’s all up for grabs. So it’s clear that even if there are things that Arik really will not forgo, his successor will continue what he began.” …
[E] Aharon Barak
Shavit: “Ruby Rivlin, your attack on the Supreme Court was unprecedented. What brought it on? Why do you perceive the court as being so dangerous?”
Rivlin: “In 1992 I was a member of the [Knesset’s] Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, which formulated and passed the Basic Law on Human Dignity and Freedom. So I know what the idea behind that law was. The idea was to consolidate the rights of people insofar as they are people and the rights of the minority insofar as it is a minority. Under no circumstances was the idea to transfer legislative authority from the Knesset to another body. No one even talked about changing the balance of power between the Knesset and the court (emphasis PE).
“So a few months later, when Dan Meridor declared that a constitutional revolution had taken place, I was stunned. Dan Meridor is one of the followers of Justice Barak [Aharon Barak, the president of the Supreme Court]. Follower is a nice word. I don’t want to use a different word, heaven forbid. But unlike him, I thought – like several former Supreme Court presidents – that there had been no constitutional revolution here. No such thing.
“Yet as time passed and the court moved ahead with great deliberation and by creeping annexation took over more and more powers, I realized that not only had there been a constitutional revolution, there had been a coup d’état. (emphasis added (PE). [Rivlin continuing:]I do not accept this revolution. In my view, the Knesset never approved it and therefore it is taking place contrary to the democratic spirit and without authorization.”
Shavit: “‘Coup d’état’ is a serious term to use in this context; it means a putsch” (emphasis PE).
Rivlin: “Correct. And that is the term I used at the President’s Residence last month. Supreme Court President Barak was very hurt by the expression, but in my opinion, when a group of people sit in a room and say that from this moment we are the power, that is a putsch. You tell me: Isn’t it a putsch? It’s a putsch. After all, they did not receive authorization from anyone. They did not consult with anyone. They created a situation of going ahead and seizing power.”
Shavit: “Do you see this as the imposition of a particular worldview on the public by means of an improper procedure? Do you see a move to establish a kind of enlightened absolutism?”
Rivlin: “Yes. It’s as clear as day. Aharon Barak says that we have to distinguish between the Knesset as framing and the Knesset as legislating. He says that if you don’t frame a constitution, I will set forth a constitution instead of you. But who gave him the right? Who gave him the right?”
Shavit: “What you are actually saying, then, is that the whole constitutional move that Justice Barak led in the past decade is illegitimate?”
Rivlin: “Of course. On the basis of the false claim of a constitutional revolution, a new reality was created here. A new government was forged that is above everyone: both above the Knesset and above the government and above the law, too. Take note that the court has effectively placed itself above the law….”
F. Threat to Democracy
Shavit: “Do you really believe that the court is operating contrary to the democratic spirit and contrary to the values of democracy?”
Rivlin: “Without a doubt. The court is disrupting the whole order of government. I will give you an … example. On the issue of the Landau report [a 1987 report about the Shin Bet security service’s interrogation methods, drawn up by a commission headed by Justice Moshe Landau, a former president of the Supreme Court], Aharon Barak comes and says, Look, even if all 120 members of the Knesset tell me that in the case of a human ‘ticking bomb,’ moderate physical pressure can be used [as the Landau Commission recommended in certain interrogations], I will strike it down. In other words, Barak is placing himself above 120 legislators. He says, If I think it’s wrong, I don’t care what the Knesset thinks ….
Shavit: “Still, why now? What decisions by the court made you react so harshly?”
Rivlin: “There was of course the ruling by a Magistrate’s Court that brought the process ad absurdum. When a junior judge allows himself to invalidate a law of the Knesset, you realize that we have reached a state of total madness. But in my opinion what was even more serious was the decision by the High Court of Justice on the question of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem [when armed Palestinians took refuge there during Operation Defensive Shield in May, 2002 (brackets in original).
“The very fact that the court did not kick out the petitioners and agreed to get into a discussion about the conduct of war policy in wartime proved to me that the court is now placing itself above the government, too. Because the moment the court starts weighing the considerations of the government in matters about which only the government can decide and for which it alone bears responsibility, it’s all over. The court has actually turned itself into a meta-government.
“Therefore, I reached the conclusion that someone had to tell His Honor Justice Barak that there is a limit. Someone had to tell him, It’s not your affair. It’s the affair of the government.”
Shavit: “Do you seriously intend to curb the power of the court by means of legislation?”
Rivlin: “Definitely. It has to be done. We are talking about a burning problem. We are talking about a situation in which they are already talking about a requiem for the law, about how the judge overcame the law. And we are talking about a situation in which the judicial system is endangering the democratic system in Israel because its people are sure that they are better than others. What’s going on here, after all? Effectively there is no longer any law here because the law changes every minute according to the interpretation of the court based on some sort of meta-norm that has never been defined, so no one knows what it is. The result is a situation in which a very small group of people has arrogated to itself the authority to decide values and rules and even policy for a whole country and for a whole public that never gave them any such authorization.”….
Therefore I tell you that they are a gang …. A gang like any other gang. Except that the name of this gang is the gang of the rule of law” (emphasis PE).
 For the full text, see IMRA – Independent Media Review and Analysis Website: www.imra.org.il.
 This dictum effectively nullified Israel’s Penal Law governing treason, since it enabled the Court to legalize the yielding of Jewish land contrary to the Penal Law governing treason, which law defines four kinds of acts as treason:
1. acts which “impair the sovereignty” of the State of Israel—section 97(a);
2. acts which “impair the integrity” of the State of Israel—section 97(b);
3. acts under section 99 which give assistance to an “enemy” in war against Israel, which the Law specifically states includes a terrorist organization;
4. acts in section 100 which evince an intention or resolve to commit one of the acts prohibited by sections 97 and 99.