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Oct 21, 2012

Stop Calling On Deri To Be Above The Law

The law is that someone who was convicted of a crime with kalon, defined as moral turpitude, cannot be elected to the Knesset for a period of 7 years from the point when he served at least 3 months in prison for that crime. This law has been on the books since 1965.

According to this law, Aryeh Deri has the right to run for Knesset, and SHAS has the right to place him in their party list, and party leadership. If Ehud Olmert should choose to run, he too, at this point, would have that right as well. Moshe Feiglin has the right to run for Knesset, though the crime with moral turpitude for which he served time was different - Feiglin was convicted of sedition when he led the Zo Artzeinu protest movement against the government, and the judges were more divided in the decision to attach moral turpitude to the crime. (As I am writing this I am wondering what right I have to support Moshe Feiglin while hoping others reject Aryeh Deri (and maybe Ehud Olmert), though the nature of the crimes and the sentencing were different.)

Back to the point - there have been many calls, in the past few days, from media personalities to MKs to public activists, for Deri to not be allowed to run, to punish SHAS for choosing a criminal as it's head, etc. While I personally hope the electorate will reject Aryeh Deri, I do not understand where these calls come from. If people, especially MKs, think that 7 years of disqualification is not enough of a punishment for moral turpitude (perhaps of specific types of crimes) but it should be a lifetime ban, they should have worked a long time ago to change that law. Like it or not, Aryeh Deri running now is well within the law. If the law does not reflect current morals promoted by the Israeli government and society, that law should be changed, but nobody should expect that SHAS should reject Aryeh Deri for this if it is perfectly within the law for him to run. According to the law, he has passed the time limit on his disqualification, and he is deemed to be morally repaired (unless known otherwise).

So, to all those afraid of Aryeh Deri and calling for him to be banned further, work on changing the law rather than asking for him and SHAS to act lifnim m'shuras ha'din, above and beyond the letter of the law, on this.

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  1. I don't think it's accurate to compare Moshe Feiglin's conviction to that of Deri of Olmert. Moshe Feiglin was involved in civil disobedience, his actions were strictly to protest the behavior of the government. Nothing he did was for personal gain, and the Israeli court system branding him with the label of moral turpitude doesn't seem to mean much. In comparison, Deri and Olmert actually exhibited acts of corruption such as bribery, breaking the law for personal benefit. The outcry against Deri (as it should be against Olmert for that matter) is against a public figure who breaks the law for personal gain, thus violating public trust, and as a result, should be highly questionable for fitness as a public servant (even if the statutes state 7 years have passed).

  2. Once again waving the libertarian flag, I say "Let the People Decide". If Shas or any other party decide they want to install an ex-convict as their leader, then let the electorate decide whether they want to entrust that person or party with public office. If Shas's electorate feels that Deri was a martyr or scapegoat, then they should have every right to vote their disgust with what they believe is an unjust system. OTOH, if they think he was justly convicted and they will have no truck with a party that appoints convicted criminals as their leaders, then they should vote their disgust by supporting someone else, or not voting. That principle applies whether it's Deri, Olmert or Feiglin in question. Just because I might think any of these people is a lowbrow criminal, doesn't give me any right to impose my opinion by restricting other people's freedom to choose.

  3. The law is one thing. Judgment about someone's character is another. Deri reeks of corruption. But then too does Shas as a whole. So Shas, in keeping with its moral character should go ahead and include him or not, regardless of the conviction. Those in the public who value honesty in politicians and parties should make their choice. However, frankly, there are not a lot of good choices among the larger parties.


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