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The Right Not To Worry


A petition to the High Court of Justice is an implied wish that the film will be shown backwards; that the snowball will not bulk up it rolls downhill. It will get smaller as it rolls up, until we can say it was merely one incident of discrimination and not racism or a system; neglect and not expulsion.

Then we're hit in the face with the reminder that we're not in a film: The people in uniform always convince the judges that the means are reasonable and the policy is just.

A petition to the High Court is a kind of worship. Once upon a time people would pray to the sun god, who never failed them. Now faith lies in people's ability to think – to ask questions.

Five Palestinian women have petitioned the High Court for permission to leave the Gaza Strip and study at Bir Zeit University despite Israel's 12-year-old blanket ban on Gazans studying in the West Bank. And even before that, since 1991, alleged temporary, technical and bureaucratic means have dwindled the number of people leaving Gaza.

Two days before Yom Kippur, justices Miriam Naor and Zvi Zylbertal ruled that the court should not intervene in the state's decision to prevent the students from studying in the West Bank. Their colleague, Justice Elyakim Rubinstein, did not find fault with the separation policy itself – the economic, social and political disconnection of Gaza from the West Bank. But in a minority opinion he proposed the establishment of a committee for exceptions that would discuss individual cases.

The hundreds of previous petitions should remind the judges that the separation policy started before Hamas rose to power in Gaza, before the Qassam rockets began falling on Israel and before the suicide bombings. That is, imprisoning a million and a half people in a detention camp did not prevent Hamas' rise, the firing of Qassams or the suicide bombings. But the judges don't ask whether perhaps there is something irrational about this policy. We can merely conclude that they accept what lies behind the policy. Let Gaza sink into the sea and cut the Gordian knot of its residents with the rest of the country.

Palestinians from the West Bank continue to appeal to the High Court – they petition against demolition orders for their houses, tents and villages. At most, the justices issue stays or interim injunctions that freeze the situation. Not to demolish but also not to build. They try not to make things difficult for the state and inquire what makes the Palestinians chronic building violators. Is it not the policy that forbids them to do what the Jews are encouraged to do?

Two weeks ago, justices Esther Hayut, Uzi Vogelman and Isaac Amit discussed the opposite kind of petition, submitted by Kfar Adumim, which demands the demolishing of the Jahalin Bedouin school in the Khan al-Ahmar area (the area where the settlements of Ma'aleh Adumim and Kfar Adumim were built ). The justices did not ask what authority they have at all and did not reject the petition immediately. They did not doubt the right of the residents of the fancy homes, surrounded by greenery, with plenty of water and the ability to expand endlessly, to demand the eviction for the second or third time of people who had been living there long before them. A similar petition, which the justices did not see fit to reject, was submitted a while ago by the residents of Jewish Susya against Palestinian Susya.

One can merely conclude that the High Court adopts the gist of the policy that the Jew has preeminence over all other people and that the Palestinians can go live in Area A.

If that's so, why should one keep making the pilgrimage to the court? Because there is still a belief that those people who sit at the summit of prestige and knowledge know and see enough to worry about this place's future lest the ideology of Jewish preeminence destroy it.

And here is the real surprise – the fact that they are not worried. The justices don't even seem to worry about their names being associated with names of other jurists who preceded them and like them accepted the reasonableness of the means and the justice of slavery, racial segregation and the cult of the party and leader – and being sent to Siberia.

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