That the minister of justice can singlehandedly launch an investigation against the anti-occupation group is a symptom of the decline of the rule of law and creeping authoritarianism within the Green Line.
By Joshua Leifer
It is not often that the justice minister of a country personally demands the investigation of a political adversary to prove they did not commit a crime. But that is precisely what happened last week in the absurd case of Dean Issacharoff, the spokesperson for Israeli anti-occupation group Breaking the Silence. The state prosecutor announced last Thursday that the investigation into Issacharoff’s claim that he badly beat a Palestinian during a protest in Hebron in 2014 had concluded due to “a lack of guilt.”
In fact, the investigation could not have ended any other way. After a video surfaced of Issacharoff describing a violent arrest he carried out during his military service, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked personally called on the state’s attorney to look into Issacharoff’s claims. “In light of the great importance I see in safeguarding the reputation of the state and its soldiers,” Shaked wrote to Attorney General Avihai Mendelblit, “I thought it appropriate to turn to you to check the truth of the incident.”
The letter was little more than an order to find Issacharoff a liar; Shaked and others on the Right have repeatedly charged that Breaking the Silence, in the words of Prime Minister Netanyahu, “lies and slanders our soldiers around the world.”
Shaked’s direct intervention was an unprecedented use of the legal system to single out a non-governmental organization for attack. Former Attorney General Michael Benyair issued a strong statement condemning the investigation and Minister of Justice Shaked’s role. “The political show-investigation of Breaking the Silence spokesman Dean Issacharoff is a disgrace to the law enforcement system,” he wrote. “The law enforcement system has lost its independence and become an instrument of the regime against its political rivals.”
“What began under the political direction of the minister of justice became a political investigation that came to a tendentious and political conclusion,” Avner Gvaryahu, Executive Director of Breaking the Silence, said in response to the investigation’s closure.
The first victim
The case against Issacharoff comes at time of intense attacks on Israeli human rights organizations, and is part of a larger trend of eroding institutional norms in Israel. Without an effective opposition in the Knesset, civil society organizations have become...Read More