Monday, August 24, 2009

The committee for judicial appointments agreed today on three new appointments to the Supreme Court. As expected, the stalemated committee chose one left-wing candidate (Uzi Fogelman), one dati candidate (Neal Hendel) and one compromise candidate (Yitzhak Amit).

Fogelman was Beinisch's candidate from the start. They worked together for decades, he shares her far left view of the world and she had already gotten him a temporary appointment to the Court.

Hendel is a frum guy from New York, who went to NYU and Hofstra Law and attended the Rav's shiur at YU. He has written a number of articles on halacha that suggest that he is a talmid chacham. A number of his rulings in Beer Sheva indicate the kind of straight thinking sorely lacking in Israel's judiciary. He ruled that a government body is not bound by the determinations of it yoetz mishpati (which would be perfectly obvious had not the Supreme Court ruled precisely the opposite with regard to the Government). He also ruled that the question of whether DNA testing could be coerced to resolve a paternity suit is a matter for the legislature to decide, not the courts. Merely as a curiosity, it is worth noting that in a dissenting view, he voted to acquit the defendant in the killing of Hanit Kikos. (Those who follow the frum chat groups will be interested to know that he is the brother of the prolific Russell Jay Hendel.)

Yitzhak Amit attended Zeitlin (a very well-known dati high school in Tel-Aviv). As far as I know he is not identified as dati today. However, he has written a number of articles suggesting that he can open a sefer. One ruling of his (as a District Judge in Haifa) that is of interest is his brazen disregard for a prior Supreme Court ruling on the division of authority between the Magistrate Courts and the District Courts with regard to demolition of illegal construction. The details are less important than the gumption they reveal. Does this mean that we can expect judicial activism from him or that he is not intimidated by his new colleagues? We'll find out.

Perhaps the main significance of these appointments is not the particular individuals chosen so much as that the Justices' domination of the committee has been shattered. Beinisch only wanted appointees whom she had already tested for "compatibility" in temporary appointments and only one of the three (Fogelman) fits that bill. Also, Yacov Ne'eman, who has proved himself to be a suck-up, was forced to drop the candidacy of his buddy Sefi Elon once the right-wing press revealed Elon's true colors.

Bottom line: we are far from where we need to get but the tide is clearly turning.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

I was not at Woodstock. Actually, I was in camp in Ferndale at the time, which was approximately ten miles and a couple of centuries away from Max Yasgur's farm in Bethel. But missing out so narrowly on so defining a moment has left me with a certain yearning ever since. I can't pass a mud pit without sliding in it. Okay, I exaggerate. But something in me really does hanker for the spirit of Woodstock. I can't explain it; it just is.

Last week I went to the Woodstock Revival event in Yerushalayim. About half the people there were my neighbors, some of whom were not ashamed to dig their psychedelic garb and bandanas out of the mothballs and actually wear them. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume it was self-parody. Anyway, the music was surprisingly fantastic. Lazer Lloyd did a Hatikva take-off on Jimi Hendrix's Star Spangled Banner that was simply gevaldig. The The Doors tribute band was excellent and Geva Alon sounds more like Neil Young than Neil Young does. It was great.

Here's the weird thing, though. If the point was to evoke the youthful anarchistic energy of Woodstock, to capture the sense of anti-establishment camraderie of that era, to recall the innocence of long-ago attempts to return to natural spirituality, to wear funny clothes and funny hairdos -- well then, those geezers were off by one night. The very next night, Acharit Hayamim out in the woods near Bat Ayin captured all that much more authentically than the Woodstock Revival did. The music is no longer soulful Carlebachian stuff. These guys, (for example, Fishy Hagadol (Adam Levinson)) are all about pure neo-chassidic anarchy.

I had a great time there too, except for the fact that I felt like David Dellinger.