Grassroots Zionist student group Im Tirtzu has launched a campaign against what it terms “the anti-Zionist trend spreading within the Bar Association.” The campaign focuses on Attorney Efi Naveh, head of the “One Association” faction that is currently vying for leadership of the Bar Association in its upcoming elections on June 16.
Since the Bar Association appoints two representatives to the nine-member Committee for Selection of Judges, which decides who gets to become a judge in Israel, its political leadership is extremely significant on a national level. In addition, the Bar Association occasionally issues opinions on legal issues, influencing public discourse. For instance, it recently issued a statement against the detention of illegal infiltrators at the Holot Center.
Im Tirtzu's web campaign features a series of quotes from Naveh and his cohorts in the One Association faction. In a recording from Knesset proceedings, featured in the Im Tirtzu campaign, Naveh himself can be heard telling Communist MK Dov Khenin of the Hadash party now part of the joint Arab list that he voted for him in the national elections.
Another member of the One Association faction, Khaled Hosni Zoabi, is running for head of the Northern District on behalf of Naveh's faction. Zoabi, who described himself as being “non-Zionist” in an interview on the website Mida, was appointed to the current Committee for Selection of Judges with the fervent backing of Naveh.
Also on the One Association list is Yuri Guy-Ron, who headed the Bar Association in the past. Guy-Ron is described by Mida as “a veteran human-rights activist” with deep connections to the New Israel Fund (NIF), who worked in the NIF's Association for Civil Rights in Israel and was on the steering committee of the NIF's jurist program.
Another One Association candidate, Yossi Arnon, has regularly represented the Palestinian Authority before Israeli authorities.
Low turnout – a danger
Matan Peleg, CEO of Im Tirtzu, said: “Until now elections to the Bar Association suffered from a lack of interest among the tens of thousands of members, which was reflected in the usually low voter turnout. Unfortunately, this lack of interest has been exploited by the factions within the Bar Association that do not support the existence of Israel as a Jewish state, and which seek to change it from within. We call on every lawyer who cares about Israel's continued existence as a Zionist state to get out and vote in this election.”
The main opposing faction fighting One Association in the current elections is Our Association, headed by Doron Barzilai.
Barzilai is the current head of the Bar Association, but the leftists in the Bar Association established an alternative “shadow government” after his election that emptied his position of most of its content.
In a conversation with Arutz Sheva, Efi Naveh rejected Im Tirtzu's charges as "spurious."
He confirmed that he voted for Dov Khenin but said that he did so when Khenin ran for mayor in the 2008 Tel Aviv municipal elections, and received one third of the votes, and not in the national elections. “Why not? I thought he would make an excellent mayor,” he said.
Khaled Hosni Zoabi “is doing an excellent job” in the Committee for Appointment of Judges, Naveh argued. “He has supported the appointment of numerous religious judges. There was never any criticism of him as harboring an extremist agenda, nor were there allegations that he opposed the appointment of worthy judges. On the contrary – he always goes along with our recommendations.”
Naveh went on to note that the candidate his rival Barzilai touted for the Committee for Appointment of Judges was Dalia Rabin, daughter of slain prime minister Yitzhak Rabin – and a leftist herself. “Believe you me,” he told us, “Zoabi is better than Dalia Rabin. So is that okay with Im Tirtzu?”
Yori Guy-Ron and Yossi Arnon support One Association but are not candidates, Naveh explained, noting that Barzilai was a political protege of Guy-Ron's in the past.
Naveh went on to claim that he enjoys the support of the haredi faction in the Bar Association, as well as the religious Zionist one.
“I am the only one who established a synagogue in his district office,” he said. “I have Torah and Gemara lessons in my district offices. I give Jewish Law a place of honor in study days and I established a Committee for Advancement of Jewish Law. I set up a contact office in Bnei Brak and another one in Ariel, which I funded from my own budget. Let no one lecture me on Judaism.”