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Arab-Israeli Justice Stirs Controversy by Declining to Sing ‘Hatikvah’

From JTA on 2/29/2012 at 4:19 PM

Categories: Legal, Israel

Arab-Israeli Justice Stirs Controversy by Declining to Sing ‘Hatikvah’

The first Israeli Arab with a permanent appointment to Israel's Supreme Court has come under fire for not singing Israel's national anthem at a public court event.

Salim Joubran remained silent Tuesday during the singing of "Hatikvah" at the end of a ceremony swearing in new Supreme Court President Asher Grunis.

The anthem, which means "The Hope" in English, refers to a 2,000-year longing to return to the land of Israel and includes lines such as "A Jewish soul still yearns."

David Rotem of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, chairman of the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, said he would work to remove Joubran from his chair, including complaining to Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman.

Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon of the Likud Party on Wednesday defended Joubran's right to remain silent during the national anthem, saying his conduct was respectful and that as a non-Jew he should not be forced to sing it.

Ghaleb Majadale of the Labor Party, who in 2007 was the first Muslim ever appointed to the Cabinet, also came under criticism after saying in a newspaper interview that he would not sing the national anthem because it was written for Jews only. Majadale said he respects the anthem by standing up.

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Elliot Olshansky
Elliot Olshansky 2/29/2012 at 5:47pm
Israel is always going to have a difficult line to walk on these issues, balancing its role as a Jewish homeland on one hand and its role as a democracy and a free society on the other. In this case, it seems unreasonable to pressure Joubran to sing Hatikvah. Showing respect for the anthem should be sufficient.