Elyakim Rubinstein

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Official portrait of Supreme Court justice Elyakim Rubinstein

Elyakim Rubinstein (Hebrew: אליקים רובינשטיין‎‎, born June 13, 1947) is the Vice President of the Supreme Court of Israel. Beforehand, he served as the Attorney General of Israel from 1997 to 2004. Rubinstein, a former Israeli diplomat with the rank of ambassador and long-time civil servant, has had an influential role in that country's internal and external affairs, most notably in helping to shape its peace treaties with Egypt[1] and Jordan[2]

Early life[edit]

Born in Tel Aviv and raised in Givatayim, Elyakim Rubinstein graduated the Tzieltin religious high school in Tel Aviv. He earned his bachelors degree in 1969 cum laude from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Hebrew language, Arabic and Arabic literature and law, and a master's degree in 1974 in contemporary Jewry.[3][4]

Career[edit]

Rubinstein began his career as a lecturer in political science at Bar-Ilan University at the age of 22.[5]

He subsequently was named a legal advisor to the Ministry of Defense under Moshe Dayan, who regarded him as "a young man with a brilliant legal mind."[6] He then followed Dayan to Ministry of Foreign Affairs when Dayan was named foreign minister in 1977. From then until 1979 he was a member of Israel's delegation to the peace talks with Egypt, which led to the signing of the Camp David Accords between the two countries. In 1980 he became an assistant director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in charge of implementing the normalization of relations with Egypt.[4]

During the early 1980s he served in a variety of capacities in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and in 1985-1986 served as Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy of Israel in Washington, D.C.. In 1986 he was appointed Cabinet Secretary[7] and in this capacity he served in various roles relating to Israel–United States relations.[8][9][10]

In 1991 he was again a member of an Israeli peace negotiating team, traveling as part of the Israeli delegation to the Madrid Peace Conference that opened the negotiations (for which he served as chairman of the Israeli delegation) that would eventually lead to the 1993 Oslo Accords, a major breakthrough in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.[11] Following the conclusion of these talks, he chaired the Israeli delegation to peace talks with Jordan, which concluded successfully with the 1994 peace treaty with Jordan.[12]

While serving as Cabinet Secretary, Rubinstein simultaneously served as the first chairman of the Israel Anti-Drug Authority and the first chairman of the Government Forum to Monitor Anti-Semitism.[4]

He then turned towards domestic Israeli jurisprudence, serving as a judge on the Jerusalem District Court from 1995 to 1997, when he was appointed Attorney General of Israel, a position he held until January 25, 2004.

In May 2004, Rubinstein was appointed to Israel's Supreme Court.[13] In January 2015 he was appointed Vice President of the Court, a position he will hold until his statutory retirement at the age of 70, in 2017.[14] Rubinstein served as chairman of the Central Elections Committee for the 2013 Israeli legislative election.

Rubinstein shared the Gabriel Peace Prize with Jordanian ambassador Fayez Tarawneh for negotiating the Israel–Jordan peace treaty.[15] He was awarded honorary doctorates by Yeshiva University and the Jewish Theological Seminary, both in New York, and Bar-Ilan University. He has written books and articles on the Supreme Court, public law in Israel, the history of Israel during the British Mandate, the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and the peace process. In addition to Bar-Ilan University, he has also taught at Tel Aviv University and his alma mater, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.[4]

Controversies[edit]

As Attorney General, Rubinstein gained a reputation for being somewhat of a liberal reformer, going up against the established might of Orthodox Judaism in favor of religious pluralism to represent all factions of Judaism. His most important success in this endeavor came when Reform and Conservative Judaism gained seats on Jerusalem's religious council, previously controlled entirely by the Orthodox.[16] He has proposed opening a section of the Western Wall for non-Orthodox religious services, but this has not yet been implemented.[17]

In 1999, Rubinstein decided not to investigate former Sephardi Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the founder and spiritual leader of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, for calling Supreme Court justices "evildoers", "empty-headed and reckless" and various other harsh epithets.[18] A year later, however, he did order an investigation after Rabbi Yosef compared the secular education minister, Yossi Sarid, to the Pharaoh of the Book of Exodus and said he should be "extirpated from the Earth" like Haman in the Book of Esther.[19]

In January 2000, Rubinstein asked President Ezer Weizman to hand over financial documents after it was disclosed in the press that he failed to report $450,000 he received as a "gift" from a friend to the Knesset and tax authorities.[20] Weizman ultimately resigned six months later.

Despite this, Rubinstein was often criticized for being too hesitant or indecisive in cases involving powerful Israeli officials, in particular for moving too slowly on those corruption charges involving Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his son Gilad. In the weeks following the end of his term as Attorney General, the State Attorney, Edna Arbel, was quick to recommend that Sharon be indicted on bribery charges. Rubinstein's initial hesitancy, however, was subsequently vindicated by his replacement, Menachem Mazuz, who decided not to press charges of corruption against Sharon and his son due to insufficient evidence.[21]

In the midst of the Sharon investigation Rubinstein suspended a state prosecutor for leaking to a Haaretz reporter a document that outlined corruption allegations against Sharon and his son while the matter was sub judice.

I am not a disciple of investigations into leaks, mainly because in the past they have not shown results. Two reasons led me to decide upon the investigation: ... the obstruction and damage caused to the investigation by the leak, and the suspicion, which unfortunately came true, that a source from the government made a political move in this sensitive period prior to the elections.

— Elyakim Rubinstein, Los Angeles Times[22]

During the 2003 legislative election campaign, Attorney General Rubinstein supported the Central Election Committee's decision to ban the anti-Zionist Balad party and its leader, Azmi Bishara, as well as Baruch Marzel of the right-wing Yamin Yisrael party from running, but he objected to its decision to disqualify Ahmad Tibi on account of his public support for Yasser Arafat, which it viewed as tacit support for terrorism. The Committee based its opinion on Article 7 of the Basic Law on the Knesset, which states that candidates for Knesset cannot oppose the Jewish and democratic character of the state, preach racism or support armed attacks by an enemy state or terrorist organization. Rubinstein even submitted to the Court information gathered by the Shin Bet to support the ban on Bishara (who subsequently fled the country before he was charged with treason and espionage for advising Hezbollah during the 2006 Lebanon War[23] and stealing millions of shekels from Arab aid organizations).[24] Balad, Bishara, and Marzel, however, were ultimately allowed to participate in the elections when the decisions against them were overturned by the Supreme Court.[25]

In 2012, Rubinstein, who is regarded by many as a "relative conservative" on the Court,[26] openly supported the right of his Arab-Christian colleague, Justice Salim Joubran, not to sing the national anthem, Hatikvah, at an official ceremony:

Non-Jewish citizens must respect the anthem by standing for it… but one cannot demand that Arab citizens sing words that do not speak to their hearts and do not reflect their roots… Of course whoever wants to join in the singing of the anthem is welcome to do so, but the decision is personal.

— Elyakim Rubinstein, The Times of Israel[27]

In his capacity as chairman of the 2013 Knesset election committee, Rubinstein forced the removal of several television ads, one from Shas, which he viewed as insulting to Russian-speaking immigrants, and the others from Otzma LeYisrael, which he viewed as racist against Arabs.[28]

Landmark Rulings[edit]

  • CA 4243/08 Assessment Officer - Dan Region v. Vered Peri of April 30, 2009: Rubinstein joined four colleagues in a landmark decision that upheld a Tel Aviv District Court decision allowing working parents to deduct childcare expenses from their taxes. In his concurring opinion, he quoted a commentary by Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Lubavitcher rebbe, on the obligation of charity in Halakha, or Jewish religious law, to apply a parallel obligation in Israeli civil law,[29] and concluded:

The emerging picture is that Halakha regards necessary expenses, including expenses for a caregiver, as appropriate for deduction from the basis of tithes (ma’aser kesafim), and the analogy to our case is clear.

— Elyakim Rubinstein, Assessment Officer - Dan Region v. Vered Peri[30]

A public transportation operator, like any other person, does not have the right to order, request or tell women where they may sit simply because they are women. They must sit wherever they like. As I now read over these lines emphasizing this I am astounded that there was even a need to write them in the year 2010. Have the days of Rosa Parks, the African-American woman who collapsed the racist segregation on an Alabama bus in 1955, returned?

— Elyakim Rubinstein, Haaretz[31]
  • HCJ 6298/07 Ressler v Knesset of February 21, 2012: Rubinstein sided with the High Court's majority declaring the so-called Tal Law unconstitutional.The law provided special exemption from mandatory military service in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to ultra-Orthodox Jews and extended mandatory military service to Israeli-Arabs.[32] Rubinstein, who is religious, included numerous texts from traditional Jewish texts in his written ruling. This prompted former Chief Rabbi Yosef to label the High Court "a court of gentiles," call Rubinstein and his colleagues "wicked" and declare that they should not be allowed to lead synagogue prayers.[33]

Nevertheless, we need to admit the truth, [that] unlike in Jewish-Haredi society in other countries, which has understood that only a few brilliant individuals can live under the tent of Torah all their lives, in Israel a whole complicated sociological system has been built that even its leaders know, deep in their hearts, is not good and not appropriate, that because of military duty thousands of people sit in the yeshivot, where it is not their place... These people, if they served in IDF, and if they worked like any other person while also making time for Torah... would be efficient both to the state, to their community and to themselves.

— Elyakim Rubinstein, Resler v. Knesset[34]

While sitting on the High Court, Rubinstein ruled in favor of evicting residents of two of the 46 unrecognized Bedouin villages inside Israel that were established illegally, without official administrative or planning approval.[35]

  • HCJ 3094/11 Ibrahim Farhood Abu al-Qi’an et al v. the State of Israel of May 5, 2015: In ruling on the case of Umm al-Hiran, Rubinstein wrote:

The state is the owner of the lands in dispute, which were registered in its name in the framework of the arrangement process; the residents have acquired no rights to the land but have settled them [without any authorization], which the state cancelled legally. In such a situation, there is no justification for intervention in the rulings of the previous courts.

— Elyakim Rubinstein, i24news[36]

This is not expulsion and not expropriation, but the proposed evacuation involves various proposals of moving, construction, compensation and the possibility of homes, whether in the town of Hura where most of the residents of the illegal villages involved will be moved, or in the community of Hiran, which is to be built.

— Elyakim Rubinstein and Neal Hendel, The Jerusalem Post[35]
  • AAA 5875/10 The Conservative Movement and the Movement for Progressive Judaism in Israel v. Be'er Sheva Religious Council and the Ministry of Religious Services of February 11, 2016: In this landmark decision, Rubinstein ruled that all of Israel’s public ritual baths (mikva'ot) must allow access to groups wishing to perform non-Orthodox conversions.[37] A month later, he joined with the majority in another landmark ruling that held that immigrants who converted to Judaism through independent conversion courts outside the auspices of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel must be recognized as Jews under the country's Law of Return.[38]

The stability clause in this chapter of the plan, in which the government undertakes for a decade to not only not legislate but to also fight any legislation against the plan’s provisions, was determined without authority – and as such is rejected. It was determined in contrast to the general principle of administrative law regarding the prohibition of shackling the authority’s ability to judge. The government does not have the power to decide not to decide and not to act.

— Elyakim Rubinstein, Yedioth Ahronoth[39]
  • HCJ 5304/15 Israel Medical Association v. Israel Knesset of September 11, 2016: Rubinstein, joined by other justices on the High Court, denied petitions on behalf of Palestinian hunger strikers imprisoned on terrorism-related charges, challenging an amendment to the law that permits their force-feeding by physicians. Declaring the amendment constitutional, Rubinstein, writing for the Court, declared that a hunger striker "is not an ordinary patient but a person who knowingly and willingly places himself in a dangerous situation as a protest or a means of attaining a personal or public goal." He also noted that laws in France, the United States, Australia, Germany, and Austria enable forced artificial feeding under exceptional cases that vary from country to country. Moreover, he argued, relevant decisions of the European Court of Human Rights do not completely prohibit forced feeding. Although security considerations by themselves do not justify the use of forced treatment, Rubinstein stated, such considerations may be weighed when a treating physician has already determined that the prisoner’s medical status is grave and that there is a real danger to his or her life or that lack of treatment will expose the prisoner to an irreversible serious handicap.[40]

Certain Israeli human rights organizations and the appellant, the Israel Medical Association (IMA), opposed the Court's decision. The IMA announced that it would instruct its members to ignore it. "This is a case in which medical ethics unequivocally trump the law, and the message we wish to convey to physicians is that forced feeding is tantamount to torture and that no doctor should take part in it," stated the association's president.[41]

Personal life[edit]

Rubinstein's wife, Miriam, is also an advocate, a former director of the Civil Division at the Office of the State Attorney[42] and, like her husband, a former Jerusalem District Court judge.[43] They had four daughters, one of whom, Sari, died after a long battle with cancer on October 25, 2016 at the age of 39. A mother of two small daughters herself, Sari, like her parents, studied law and became a licensed advocate upon passing the bar examination, after which she was accepted as a cadet at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.[44] Elyakim and Miram Rubinstein have 11 grandchildren.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ https://www.cartercenter.org/resources/pdfs/peace/conflict_resolution/camp_david_forum_03.pdf
  2. ^ Miller, Elhanan (October 29, 2014). "Personal chemistry was key to peace with Jordan, Israeli negotiator recalls". The Times of Israel. Retrieved October 28, 2016. 
  3. ^ http://versa.cardozo.yu.edu/justices/rubinstein-elyakim
  4. ^ a b c d e "Justice Elyakim Rubinstein, Deputy President of the Supreme Court, Curriculum Vitae" (PDF). Retrieved October 28, 2016. 
  5. ^ http://www.mei.edu/sites/default/files/publications/Legacy-Camp-David.pdf
  6. ^ Liebler, Isi (January 29, 2003). "The doublespeak of the Left". Retrieved October 30, 2016. 
  7. ^ Elyakim Rubinstein on the official website of the Israeli Courts
  8. ^ "Progress Reported, but Unconfirmed in Israeli Envoy's Talks with U.S.". December 21, 1989. Retrieved October 28, 2016. 
  9. ^ Slonim, Shlomo. Jerusalem in America's Foreign Policy: 1947-1997. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. p. 282. ISBN 9041112553. 
  10. ^ Cashman, Greer Fay (April 5, 2016). "Grapevine: A man for all seasons". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved October 28, 2016. 
  11. ^ "Israel Picks Delegates for Madrid, Expresses Concern About Palestinian". October 28, 1991. Retrieved October 28, 2016. 
  12. ^ "Opening Remarks by Elyakim Rubinstein at the Israel-Jordan Peace Talks at Ein-Evrona - 18 July 1994". July 18, 1994. Retrieved October 28, 2016. 
  13. ^ "רובינשטיין אליקים". news1.co.il. Archived from the original on November 13, 2013. 
  14. ^ Bob, Yonah Jeremy (September 21, 2014). "Israel names new Supreme Court judges". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved October 31, 2016. 
  15. ^ "Address by Prime Minister Peres at Beit Gabriel". January 10, 1996. Retrieved November 3, 2016. 
  16. ^ "Non-Orthodox Score New Victory in Struggle over Religious Councils". Retrieved October 28, 2016. 
  17. ^ Ettinger, Yair. "State Savaged in Court for Ignoring Agreement to Open Western Wall to Non-Orthodox". Haaretz. Retrieved October 28, 2016. 
  18. ^ Magen, Hadas (February 22, 1999). "Rubinstein Decides Not to Investigate Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef Following Supreme Court Attack". Globes. Retrieved October 30, 2016. 
  19. ^ Wilkinson, Tracy (March 28, 2000). "Israeli Rabbi's Fiery Remarks Spark Criminal Investigation". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 30, 2016. 
  20. ^ Sontag, Deborah (January 4, 2000). "Israel names new Supreme Court judges". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved October 31, 2016. 
  21. ^ Sharon's son ordered to hand over documents CNN, 29 March 2004
  22. ^ Stack, Megan K. (January 23, 2003). "Prosecutor in Israel Suspended for Leak". Retrieved October 28, 2016. 
  23. ^ Lis, Jonathan; Ilan, Shahar (May 2, 2007). "Court lets Bishara, Tibi and Marzel run for Knesset". Haaretz. Retrieved October 30, 2016. 
  24. ^ HaLevi, Ezra (May 2, 2007). "Israeli Arab MK Bishara Accused of Treason, Espionage and More". Arutz Sheva. Retrieved October 30, 2016. 
  25. ^ Reinfeld, Moshe (January 10, 2003). "Court lets Bishara, Tibi and Marzel run for Knesset". Retrieved October 30, 2016. 
  26. ^ "Supreme Court Justice Zilbertal announces early retirement". The Times of Israel. March 16, 2016. Retrieved October 31, 2016. 
  27. ^ Zaken, Hillary (March 1, 2012). "Supreme Court Justice Rubinstein: Arabs not required to sing national anthem". The Times of Israel. Retrieved October 28, 2016. 
  28. ^ Sterman, Adiv (January 9, 2013). "Shas to shelve racially loaded ad about conversion to Judaism". Times of Israel. Retrieved October 30, 2016. 
  29. ^ Nelson, Zalman (May 4, 2009). "The Rebbe's Views Cited In Israel's Supreme Court Landmark Decision". Chabad Lubavitch World HQ/News. Retrieved October 20, 2016. 
  30. ^ "Assessment Officer - Dan Region v. Vered Peri Court" (PDF). Israel Law Reports. April 30, 2009. Retrieved November 2, 2016. 
  31. ^ Ettinger, Yair (January 6, 2011). "High Court: Gender Segregation Legal on Israeli Buses - but Only With Passenger Consent". Haaretz. Retrieved October 30, 2016. 
  32. ^ Glickman, Aviad (February 22, 2012). "High Court rules against extending Tal Law". Yedioth Ahronoth. Retrieved October 30, 2016. 
  33. ^ Ettinger, Yair (August 19, 2012). "Rabbi Ovadia Yosef Bashes Israeli Legal System, Calling It Court of Gentiles". Haaretz. Retrieved October 30, 2016. 
  34. ^ "Israel: Supreme Court Decision Invalidating the Law on Haredi Military Draft Postponement". The Law Library of Congress. March 2012. Retrieved November 1, 2016. 
  35. ^ a b Bob, Yonah Jeremy (July 26, 2015). "Rule of Law: Is there no law in the South?". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved October 27, 2016. 
  36. ^ "Israel: Supreme Court rejects Bedouin petition against eviction orders". i24news. June 5, 2015. Retrieved October 30, 2016. 
  37. ^ "Israeli mikvahs must allow non-Orthodox conversions, Supreme Court rules". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. February 11, 2016. Retrieved November 1, 2016. 
  38. ^ Borschel-Dan, Amanda (April 1, 2016). "Will Supreme Court's bite out of rabbinate monopoly be upheld?". The Times of Israel. Retrieved October 29, 2016. 
  39. ^ Yahav, Talam (March 27, 2016). "High Court rejects Israel's natural gas plan". Yedioth Ahronoth. Retrieved October 30, 2016. 
  40. ^ "Library of Congress Global Legal Monitor". October 5, 2016. Retrieved October 31, 2016. 
  41. ^ Khoury, Jack (September 16, 2016). "Israel's High Court Finds Force Feeding Constitutional: 'A Hunger Striker Is Not an Ordinary Patient'". Haaretz. Retrieved October 31, 2016. 
  42. ^ "Report of the Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry With Regard to Lessons to be Learned From the Maccabiah Bridge Disaster". July 9, 2000. Retrieved October 31, 2016. 
  43. ^ Eizenberg, Dan (August 23, 2010). "Neeman: Five women refused to serve on the Turkel panel". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved October 31, 2016. 
  44. ^ יואלי, אריה (October 26, 2016). "בתו של השופט אליקים רובינשטיין נפטרה". סרוגים. Retrieved November 1, 2016. 
Legal offices
Preceded by
Miriam Naor
Chairman of the Central Elections Committee
2012–2013
Succeeded by
Salim Joubran