Monday, May 24, 2010

The Plumbing of Israeli Democracy: Rubi Rivlin

Since so many people out there are so busy assuring us that Israeli democracy has gone off the tracks - and yes, they're aided and abetted by a tiny minority of Israelis who certainly know better - it occurs to me there may be value in an occasional series looking into the plumbing of Israeli democracy. Here's the first installment.

According to Israeli law, members of Knesset enjoy legal immunity from prosecution. Unfortunately, over the years there have been cases of MKs engaging in criminal acts: this is a fact, regrettable as it may be. In order to enable MKs to be tried, a Knesset committee must first hear some of the evidence and revoke the immunity of the MK on that specific matter (or, rarely, not revoke it. That has also happened). This morning there was a discussion in the relevant committee on a proposal to revoke the immunity of some Arab MKs who recently visited Libya.

The proposal was authored by Dr. Michael ben Ari, the most extreme right-wing MK of the present Knesset, who is in the opposition. He didn't garner the votes he needed, but some of the MKs felt they'd like to use the subject for a spot of additional grandstanding before quashing it, so they delayed the vote until next week. Interestingly, Rubi Rivlin, the Speaker of the House, took the highly unusual step of participating in the discussion, because he felt strongly about it: against, obviously:
The Knesset speaker said, "Limiting the freedom of expression and narrowing the Knesset members' steps is a dangerous, slippery slope, which will end in tyranny and the nullification of the minority." Rivlin added that revoking the MKs immunity could serve as a double-edged sword and equally harm the other end of the political spectrum. "Today, it is the Arab minority, and tomorrow it will be another minority. Such things have happened in the past.
Rivlin, as all of us know, is from the right wing of Likud. He's not a lefty, nor even a centrist. He's staunchly and proudly right-wing. Which of course doesn't preclude his taking a clear position in favor of freedom of speech, be it of people of his persuasion or a very different persuasion.

Which is the way it should be, and also just what you'd expect.


NormanF said...

Yaacov, which I vehemently disagree with. Its one thing to present an unpopular point of view. Its another to promote sedition and treason. The latter have no place in an elected body.

But I don't expect dhimmi Jews like Ruby Rivlin to appreciate the difference.

Anonymous said...


Please stop with the over-the-top comments. This site is for discussion, not for extremes.

In my opinion, charges of treason need to be leveled at the right time, not at every turn. A few days back, Yaacov posted about the differences in what we read and Hebrew vs. English.

You should go back and read it.