Israel News for March 18, 2016

Jewish Sedition
Moshe Orbach, a 24 year old right wing activist from Beni Brak, was convicted last month of sedition, possession of material calling for violence and possession of racist material. The material was a document he wrote called “Kingdom of Evil”, which contains detailed instructions for organizing a Jewish terror cell and setting vehicles, churches and mosques on fire.

Yesterday Orbach was sentenced to 2 years in prison. In his sentencing decision, Rehovot Magistrate’s Court Judge Menahem Mizrahi wrote that the document had destructive potential if it reached individuals who were open to its violent message. He said he imposed a sentence that would “deter [Orbach] and many others from similar actions and make clear to him that the court will not take lightly acts that can harm or undermine the delicate fabric of the population of Israel,” while also taking into consideration the defendant’s absence of a prior criminal record. He also gave Orbach six months’ probation.

As for the content of “Kingdom of Evil,” the judge wrote that it was not protected by the constitutional right to freedom of expression because it contained “a clear prescription, detailed and step-by-step instructions for committing violence.”

For further reading click here.

Group Crosses Line
Following an investigative report aired on Channel 2 yesterday, the PM announced that the group Breaking the Silence had “crossed a red line” and that they would be investigated by the security services.

Breaking the Silence is a Non Governmental Organization established by IDF veterans. The stated aim of the organization is to  collect the testimonies of soldiers who have served in the West Bank and Gaza, detailing alleged “cases of abuse towards Palestinians” and documenting the conduct of IDF soldiers.

The investigative report revealed footage of the group’s activists asking soldiers questions pertaining to intelligence and operational activities.

MKs from across the political spectrum condemned Breaking the Silence, with some noting that the attempt to collect classified intelligence is tantamount to spying.

Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein called for an “investigation to clarify which sensitive information (Breaking the Silence) has in its possession.”

Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid said: “While Israel is fighting terror, Breaking the Silence is taking information and using it against the state.” He added that, “Israel must do all it can to protect its soldiers, and this organization has no right to exist in a State that is battling daily for the safety of its citizens.”

Zionist Union MK Revital Swid said that, “Breaking the Silence had lost all of its legitimacy” adding that, “it was time to condemn all extremism no matter” what side of the political aisle they were on.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon (Likud) today ordered the Military Advocate General to launch an investigation.

For further reading click here.

New Judges
Israel’s Supreme Court will soon be changing, most likely in the “Right” direction. Four out of the court’s fifteen judges will be retiring in 2017. The retiring judges include President Miriam Naor, Deputy President Elyakim Rubinstein and Judges Salim Joubran and Zvi Zilbertal. Supreme Court Judges have life tenure.

New Supreme Court Justices are appointed by the Judicial Selection Committee, composed of nine members: three Supreme Court Justices (including the President of the Supreme Court), two cabinet ministers (one of them being the Minister of Justice – Ayelet Shaked), two Knesset members, and two representatives of the Israel Bar Association. The committee is chaired by the Minister of Justice.

Shaked will be chairing the committee composed of Supreme Court Justices Naor, Rubinstein and Joubran, as well as Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, MKs Nurit Koren (Likud) and Robert Ilatov (Yisrael Beytenu), and representatives from the Israel Bar Association, Elana Saker and Khaled Zoa’bi.

Because a majority of seven out of nine is required to approve appointments, the Justice Minister and the Supreme Court president often reach agreements in advance and then convince the political and legal representatives in the committee to join them.

Shaked will clearly be pushing for conservative, right leaning candidates.

For further reading click here.

IDF vs Rabbinate
The Chief Rabbis of Israel are usually invited to participate in religious events and ceremonies held by the IDF. The dedication of a new torah scroll at a commando base next week should be no different. However, permission for the Chief Rabbis to attend the ceremony at the base was unexpectedly rejected by the IDF Chief of Staff’s command.

No reason for the rejection was given, but the prevailing assumption is that it has something to do with statements made by the Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef last weekend. At his weekly Saturday night torah lecture, Rabbi Yosef discussed the issue of whether it is permissible to kill a neutralized terrorist. He told soldiers that if a terrorist approaches them with a knife, it is a Mitzvah to kill him and that they should not be afraid of any possible High Court action against them, nor should they listen to what a Chief of Staff might tell them.

Yosef’s comments were apparently directed at a statement made by the Chief of Staff made last week, telling soldiers not to kill neutralized terrorists and to disregard the Talmudic dictum that would authorize the killing.

Looks like the Chief of Staff is getting his revenge by forbidding the rabbis to participate in a torah dedication ceremony. Not very sporty of him. A bit childish perhaps?

For further reading click here.