IT’S hard to recall quite how many times over the years we have lauded Israel for its independent judiciary.
Whether it’s the courts finding senior politicians guilty of various misdemeanours, the state being found wanting in its treatment of its Arab citizens or settlers’ outposts being declared illegal, we highlight these as examples of democracy in action – a rarity in that corner of the globe – and hail Israel as a country that is founded on, and committed to, the rule of law.
And yet in recent years our faith in the Israeli judiciary has taken an almighty battering.
Our hearts aching for Malka Leifer’s alleged victims, we
have lamented every legal setback in the attempt to extradite the former Adass Israel principal to Australia where she faces 74 counts of child sexual abuse.
But as the case drags on and people understandably ask why Benjamin Netanyahu or other high-ranking officials can’t intervene, we have had to remind ourselves that this is the price we pay for the integrity of Israel’s legal system.
And yet, with a dark cloud hanging over that integrity amid allegations of interference in the case by the Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, with evidence proffered that Leifer is feigning her supposed mental illness and with yet further delays in proceedings as another round of psychiatric assessments is ordered, one can’t help but wonder what value there is in extradition treaties between supposed allies and whether it’s time to say ‘Enough is enough.’
The frustration felt not just by her alleged victims, but by members of our community and senior state and federal politicians, was all too evident in reaction to last week’s ruling that Leifer should be released under house arrest.
Fortunately, as of press time, she is still behind bars while a judge determines whether an appeal against her release should be upheld.
Nonetheless, more than four years after her arrest, with almost 60 court hearings and countless psychiatric assessments failing to progress the process, calls for the Israeli government to now intervene seem entirely justifiable.
Faith has been lost.
In these pages, members of our community are saying they will withhold charitable donations to Israel, communal leaders are protesting the ‘so many … scandalous’ aspects of this case and denouncing the process as a ‘circus’.
Clearly, it is time for this farce to end.
It is time to accept the system has failed.
It is time for Leifer to be sent back to Australia to face justice.