Supreme Court judge complains to police over death threats

Both the judiciary and left-wing political leaders blamed recent “incitement” against the courts for the death threats.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Supreme Court Justice Anat Baron filed a police complaint Sunday after receiving a letter at home that told her to “expect to be punished.”

This is the second menacing letter the 66-year-old judge has recently received, according to the judiciary. Channel 13 News reported Sunday that the earlier letter seemed to threaten Baron’s son, Ido. An older son, Ran, was murdered in a suicide bombing in 2003, and this missive said “another punishment awaits her.”

Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu quickly condemned the letter-writer in no uncertain terms.

“Zero tolerance must be shown to anyone who threatens to murder judges and elected officials alike,” he said before the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting. “Just this month, I filed three police complaints of murder threats against me and my family. I call on the police to act swiftly and powerfully to exterminate the plague of incitement – it has no place among us.”

The police immediately opened an investigation. They are currently checking whether the threats are linked to a current case over which Baron is presiding or to past ones.

Just last week, she angered right-wing Israelis by voting with the majority to annul a 2017 Knesset law to legalize some 4,000 homes in Judea and Samaria by arranging compensation to Palestinians if they could prove they owned the land they were built on.

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Baron also recently voted to stop the IDF from destroying the home of a Palestinian terrorist who masterminded the murder last summer of Dvir Sorek.

Left-wing politicians and the judiciary itself jumped to say that the letter was a result of recent incitement against the courts, alluding to Netanyahu’s criticism of the way the court is handling the three corruption cases currently being tried against him.

Labor leader and Economy Minister Amir Peretz said, “We have to do all we can so that no person, not a private individual nor a politician, can threaten judges. When there are threats against judges … Israeli democracy trembles.”

“The threatening letter sent to Supreme Court Justice Anat Baron, including its despicable content, is the direct result of continuous unbridled incitement against the justice system and its judges,” said a statement put out by the judiciary.

Some question whether the Left is using the letter as an excuse to stifle any attack on the court, including legitimate criticism. No politician on the Right has called for violence against the court.

What they have done is call out the court for taking over legislative functions, such as when the Supreme Court, acting as the High Court of Justice, ordered then-Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein to convene the Knesset in March to allow a vote on a new speaker.

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Resigning his position instead, Edelstein said, “The High Court decision is incompatible with Knesset rules and demolishes the work of parliament. The High Court’s decision is a gross and arrogant intervention of the judiciary in the work of an elected legislature.”

The courts have also been accused of becoming the center of left-wing power in Israel, with unelected judges imposing their agenda on a populace whose majority has consistently voted Right.

According to a January poll by the Israel Democracy Institute, most Israelis – 59 percent — think the Supreme Court justices’ legal rulings are influenced by their political views. A whopping 78 percent of right-wing Israelis believe this, versus 36.5 percent of their left-wing counterparts.

In addition, the more religious Jewish Israelis are, the less they trust that the judges give equal treatment to those who appear before them. While 63 percent of traditional Jews do not trust the judges’ impartiality, the number rises to 70 percent among the national-religious and a nearly unanimous 91 percent of the ultra-Orthodox public.