Supreme Court President Esther Hayut (Image credit: The Judiciary of Israel [CC BY-SA 4.0] via Wikimedia)
There was a distinct Purim shpiel air about the Israeli Supreme Court's ruling on Sunday — four days before Purim — to disqualify a former Knesset member from the elections over his calls to fight for the survival of the Jewish people by identifying the hostile enemies among us.
This surreal aspect was heightened by the fact that the court simultaneously legitimized Arab party members who have explicitly supported terrorist attacks against Israelis. And just to make sure the point was not lost, the court's decision came the same day as a bloody terror attack near Ariel in Samaria in which two Jews were murdered by an Arab terrorist and another seriously wounded.
Otzma Yehudit party chairman Dr. Michael Ben-Ari's “crime” according to the Supreme Court — for which the attorney general reportedly intends to launch criminal proceedings against him — was that he argued Arab terrorists are the product of a wider social environment that inculcates a desire to destroy the Jewish state, and that the Arab nationalism fueling this animosity against Israel is more than just a “lone wolf” problem. Despite the fact that these assertions are demonstrably true and are crucial in formulating a defense for Jews living in Israel against a hostile enemy, they were tantamount to the cardinal sin of “racism” in the eyes of the judges.
This court decision banning free speech and freedom of thought — which was initiated by the Reform Movement in America that used its deep pockets to undermine Israeli democracy — came despite the Knesset Election Committee ruling Ben-Ari was fit to run in the elections. In making it, the judges robbed the people of their fundamental democratic right to freely elect their own representatives, and instead chose the voting slate for them.
It is more than just ironic that the ruling came mere hours after a lethal Arab terror attack — and that it shortly preceded Purim that falls this Thursday/Friday. One is indeed struck by certain parallels between Haman’s plot to destroy the Jewish people and the Supreme Court's decision.
In the Book of Esther, we learn Haman targeted Mordechai the Jew for execution, incensed that Mordechai refused to bow before him subserviently and instead stood against his decreed plans to slaughter the Jews. This public show of backbone against him was enough for Haman to write Mordechai’s death warrant.
There is a certain parallel to how the Supreme Court set out to politically “execute” Ben-Ari, a representative of the Jewish people who openly called to defend that people from an enemy bent on its destruction. Ben-Ari had also been vocal in calling to limit the Supreme Court’s stranglehold on Israeli democracy; his party announced its plans to pass a law to have the people directly select the court judges; in this way he publicly opposed the judicial elite. Ben-Ari's defiance of the court's hegemony and stand against Arab nationalist terror appears to have been enough for the Supreme Court to single him out for elimination.
In the events of Purim, Haman issued a decree in the king’s name to murder every last member of the Jewish people. Haman sent his official letter throughout the king’s land, authorizing the enemies of the Jews to rise up and slaughter them.
In a shockingly equivalent analogy, the Supreme Court judges gave a stamp of approval to those legitimizing the murder of Jews when it ruled to allow the Hadash-Ta’al Arab party to run in the election. In doing so, the judges overruled the Knesset Election Committee decision to disqualify the terror-supporting candidates, and thereby thwarted an attempt by representatives of the people to protect the public. The Court’s approval was given the same day Jews were murdered in exactly the kind of attack the Arab party members have vocally supported.
Finally, Haman desired to wear the king's clothes and crown and be paraded through the streets — in other words, he wished to replace the king and usurp his sovereignty, as he revealed when he thought Achashverosh wanted to honor him.
In today’s counterpart, the judges have crowned themselves sovereign in this ruling, usurping the vote of the people and pre-selecting who may rule. Not only did they steal the external trappings of democratic governance from the public, they went so far as to dictate what thoughts and statements are permissible since they banned Ben-Ari solely on the basis of his thinking about Israel’s reality, which clearly differs from their own.
And if all that were not enough, the name Bagatz (בג”ץ) — the Hebrew acronym for the Supreme Court by which it is nearly exclusively referred — has the exact same value of 95 as the name Haman (המן), according to the Hebrew numerical system of gematriya.
We know how the Purim story ended: Haman’s plans backfired. Instead of getting the king to sign off on Mordechai’s death by hanging, Haman was himself hung on the gallows he had set up, hoisted with his own petard. The Jews were allowed to stand up and fight to save themselves from their enemies.
The Jewish people are in need of another Purim miracle to save them from dictatorial decrees disarming them of representation that sounds the alarm against their enemies. Will the Jewish public be allowed to stand and fight for their lives against the terrorist enemy and its supporters — or will such calls be silenced?
Today there is no king — the ruling power in a democracy is the people. In his day, Achashverosh from the Book of Esther was a malleable monarch, ready to go along with Haman’s evil plans when doing so lined his pockets with gold, but bringing deliverance in the moment of truth as a tool in G-d’s hands to save the Jewish people.
With today’s ballot box, the public has the power to seize the royal scepter and call the Supreme Court out as an opponent of the Jewish people, just as Queen Esther did at the court banquet. Or it can continue to doze — like Achashverosh did initially — letting the court keep it under its thumb.
Perhaps the court's decree will yet backfire as Haman's did. If enough people are incensed by the Supreme Court’s attempt to overrule democracy, and enough politicians are frightened by the prospect of being possible targets in the future, the prime goal of the next government may be defeating the judicial dictatorship. Statements have already indicated this may be in the offing.
There is also talk of fighting the decision, whether by changing the list so Ben-Ari's fellow party member Itamar Ben-Gvir is bumped up to take his place and another member takes Ben-Gvir's, or by retroactively canceling the clause exploited by the court in its ruling and reinstating Ben-Ari. Likewise Ben-Ari’s party has called for one of its representatives to be given a ministerial post to make up for this stifling decree, and demanded that Ben-Gvir not only be placed on the Judicial Selection Committee as was promised, but also be made chairman of the Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee in order to be able to impact the current judicial dictatorship.
Perhaps the outrageousness of this Supreme Court’s ruling will be its downfall, causing the tide to turn against it, just as Haman’s genocidal hubris was turned on its head — it is Purim, after all.