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Rights groups demand lawyers’ suspension for slander

By Yuval Yoaz , Haaretz

Eight human rights organizations seek the suspension of two attorneys from the High Court of Justice Division of the State Prosecutor’s Office for making offensive remarks about two local human rights groups in a written statement to the High Court about two weeks ago.

Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann and Attorney General Menachem Mazuz were asked to suspend attorneys Gilad Sherman and Yochi Gensin and to start disciplinary proceedings against them for comments they made about the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel.

Sherman and Gensin wrote to the court that “[ACRI] and Adalah are comfortable with the possibility of a prime minister, cabinet minister or MP from Hamas ordering Qassam rockets launched at Sderot, [abducted Israeli soldier] Gilad Shalit not being released and as many Israeli citizens as possible killed, in the spirit of the Hamas charter, while at the same time being entitled to reside permanently in Israel and to enjoy National Insurance Institute allowances and complete freedom of movement in the country.”

The comments were made as Hamas members in the Palestinian parliament appeal against the Interior Ministry’s revocation of their permanent residency status in East Jerusalem.

“The approach of ACRI and Adalah is absurd, lacking legal or ethical basis, and contradictory to the elements and ideas of civil rights and freedoms, and is liable to endanger the safety and welfare of the public as well as jeopardizing the public’s faith in governmental and law enforcement authorities,” Sherman and Gensin wrote.

Eight organizations joined the demand for the attorneys’ suspension: The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel; B’Tselem; Amnesty International, Israel Section; Gisha: Center for the Legal Protection of Freedom of Movement; HaMoked Center for the Defense of the Individual; Yesh Din – Volunteers for Human Rights; Physicians for Human Rights and Rabbis for Human Rights.

“The implication of the attorneys’ statements, which amount to slander and constitute infuriating demagoguery, is that ACRI and Adalah are a ‘fifth column’ whose entire aim is to undermine the existence and the security of the state,” the organizations wrote. “The foundation of this statement is a clear attempt to sow doubt concerning the legitimacy of these organizations in the public and in the High Court.”

In addition to the suspension and disciplinary proceedings against Sherman and Gensin, the protesting organizations seek a public apology and want the attorneys to meet with representatives from the Justice Ministry and the rights organizations to set principles for future cooperation.