It’s a remarkable display of selective enforcement of public health laws.
An Israeli supreme court judge will have no fine and no legal steps taken against him for conducting a large wedding in contravention of health regulations.
A complaint was filed against the judge for his flagrant violation of the law. But the Commissioner for Public Complaints against Judges, Judge (emeritus) Uri Shoham ruled there was no reason to take action against the judge, because he “thought there was no problem with this number of people.”
A few months ago, Supreme Court Judge Chanan Meltzer held a wedding for his son in an indoor venue with 70 people. This was despite the fact that health regulations only allow for 20 people. In many cases police intervened and terminated weddings, fining the organizers large sums at the same time.
Also, there is a well-known axiom that “ignorance of the law is no excuse”. This means that ignorance of the law does not exempt from legal consequences. All the more so if he is a judge whose profession is to interpret the law.
Despite this, Shoham rejected the complaint submitted by the Be’Tzalmo organization. They had demanded that the judge be censured for his actions and that he should not be allowed to adjudicate matters relating to coronavirus. Shoham claimed that the judge had called the health ministry – but had not understood the restrictions regarding crowds at the time. Therefore he “did not know it was a violation of law.”
“There is no doubt that the violation occurred,” Shoham wrote. “But after investigating the matter, it became apparent that the judge thought there was no problem with such a number of people. So he spent a lot of money hiring a hall and rooms in a hotel.”
“I considered the matter carefully. And based on the subject matter, my conclusion is that we cannot reject the judge’s explanation …”
The Be’Tzalmo organization responded that “every citizen knows that “ignorance of the law is no excuse”. But apparently this is a rule for citizens but not for supreme court judges. Once again it is apparent that there is one rule for simple citizens and another for judges.”