A few of my Israeli friends have sent me a link to a Yediot interview with Judge Einat Ron, who I disparagingly call the “Shin Bet judge” in my post title, even though she formally isn’t. She’s a real judge who might just as well work directly for the Shin Bet since, as with all Israeli courts, she is at the beck and call of the security services. If they want a gag order they get one. If they’re ready to remove it, it will be removed. I don’t think I’ve ever, except in the relatively rare case of the Supreme Court, heard of a lower court judge actually bucking the Shin Bet and acting independently.
In any case, I had a feeling that was alternately strange and gratifying when the judge, who I’ve criticized harshly for the similar role she played in the Anat Kamm case and coaching the IDF to wiggle out of culpability in the wanton killing of an 11-year old Palestinian boy, seemingly addressed me indirectly in her interview. She was asked about approving gag orders and whether she factors into her decisions the coverage that such orders receive in foreign media (a story in Ynet yesterday credited Tikun Olam with playing a leading role in breaking the story outside Israel):
Judge Ron, who restricted her gag order regarding the latest spying case at whose center stand Ameer Makhoul and Omer Said, explained that she isn’t influenced by foreign publications, but that gag orders are judged in a matter-of-fact manner…She enumerated [one reason for gag orders] “a pronounced fear regarding potential damage to the security of the State.”
She also commented on the fact that the case has been covered abroad, as Ynet reported yesterday, “As sometimes happens with in such situations there can be repercussions since gag order have no effect outside Israel. The repercussions of this case were felt in foreign sources and publications outside Israel. The reasons for approving, limiting or lifting a gag order do not take foreign media into account. However, it is known that with technological innovations you cannot prevent such publications.
Along with this, the judge pointed out that foreign news coverage “doesn’t justify creating a situation in which no gag orders are issued at all, since there remains considerable fear of harming the state’s security and harming an investigation…” if gag orders did not exist.
To which I say, spoken like a true lawyer. An excess of verbiage and a deficit of sense. This is clearly an intelligent lawyer in service of a deformed system. And she’s whistling in the wind. Clearly, a judge would have to deny that media coverage plays any role in her decisions. But it does. And even if it doesn’t, Ron’s decisions are guided by the ‘seen hand’ of the Shin Bet, and the security agency is clearly influenced by external factors like media coverage. Not to mention the outrage against this campaign from the Israeli Palestinian community, which clearly played a factor in partially lifting the gag today.
Earlier today, Ynet reported that 300 protestors gathered in Haifa to express their support for Ameer Makhoul and Omer Said, the victims of the latest Shin Bet machinations. An Israeli Arab MK expressed outrage at the security assault:
MK El-Sana added, “Shin Bet Chief Yuval Diskin should not be the one handling the government’s policy regarding the Arab minority. It’s not a crime to be a Palestinian in Israel.”
Makhoul’s brother threw the charges of spying back at the government:
“Ameer is strong,” he continued. “He will face this onslaught head-on, and at the end of the day, those facing justice would be the authorities…not him”
This reminded me of the Dylan song:
The loser now will be later to win…
And the first one now will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’
To some, depending on their political orientation, this may sound like either bluster or vain hope. But the great Mandala will turn and someday it will be the Makhouls and Saids of the world who will be lionized, while the Diskins will be spurned for their vain effort to stave off the inevitable transformation of Israel into a multi-ethnic state affirming the equal rights of all groups with none holding supremacy.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.