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18 Mar, 2019 15:11

‘Judicial junta’ brings justice? Israel’s Supreme Court bans far-right Jewish leader from elections

‘Judicial junta’ brings justice? Israel’s Supreme Court bans far-right Jewish leader from elections

Israel’s Supreme Court has disqualified the leader of the ultranationalist Jewish Power party from next month’s elections, citing anti-Arab remarks he made. The move received plaudits from left-leaning journalists and activists.

Michael Ben-Ari was originally given the all-clear to run by Israel’s electoral committee, but the decision was appealed, with his political opponents accusing him of engaging in open racism.

In August, Ben-Ari said that it was necessary to “change the equation regarding anyone who dares to speak against a Jew.” He then suggested that such offenders should be dragged in front of a firing squad, a method that “Arabs understand [best].

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He later claimed that he was referring specifically to Hamas, and not all Arabs, but it appears that Israel’s highest court disagreed. The judges ruled 8-1 to ban him from running in April’s election, siding with Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit, who had accused the far-right leader of engaging in “incitement to racism.

The ultra-right Jewish Power includes followers of the anti-Arab radical rabbi Meir Kahane, who led a right-wing group in the 1980s that advocated attacks on Arabs.
Responding to Sunday’s ruling, Ben-Air said that Israel had been taken hostage by a “judicial junta.

They tell you there is a democracy here. It’s not a democracy, there is a judicial junta here, unfortunately, which took power into its hands.

Jewish Power forms part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right coalition, although it’s not clear whether the ruling will pose a significant hurdle to Netanyahu’s hopes of maintaining power. The ruling does not ban other members of Jewish Power from running, and the party has already announced a replacement candidate.

Israel’s Supreme Court also overturned a ban on the Israeli-Arab coalition, which had been accused of having ties to Palestinian militants.

Left-leaning Jewish journalists and activists welcomed the rulings.

This is a brave decision by Israel’s Supreme Court. The justices know very well that Netanyahu’s right-wing religious coalition, currently leading in all polls, will use it to try and weaken the court’s standing after the election. And they did it anyway,tweeted Amir Tibon, Washington correspondent for Haaretz.

Although Israel’s Supreme Court saved the country from an international embarrassment, this result doesn’t change the legal and political reality that Israel isn’t defined as a state for all its citizens or one with equality enshrined among its Basic Laws,wrote Jamil Dakwar, director of ACLU’s Human Rights Program.

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The ruling, however, was not welcomed by Israel’s right-wing Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who decried the court’s “massive and mistaken intervention going to the heart of Israeli democracy.

The leader of her party, the New Right, recently compared the Supreme Court to Hamas.

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