A Supreme Court justice defended his benchmate Thursday for not singing the national anthem, two days after the Israeli-Arab justice drew fire from right-wing critics after keeping silent during an official ceremony.
Justice Salim Joubran chose not to sing Hatikvah during the swearing-in ceremony for new Supreme Court Justice Asher Grunis on Tuesday. MK David Rotem, who sits on the judicial appointments panel, called for Joubran’s removal after the incident.
Rubinstein wrote a letter defending his colleague as a loyal Israeli citizen, arguing that Israeli Arabs should not be required to sing lyrics they cannot identify with, and dismissing the brouhaha over the incident as undeserved criticism.
The text of the letter reads: “Non-Jewish citizens must respect the anthem by standing for it… but one cannot demand that Arab citizens sing words that do not speak to their hearts and do not reflect their roots… Of course whoever wants to join in the singing of the anthem is welcome to do so, but the decision is personal.”
A number of right-wing MKs offered harsh criticism of Joubran after he did not sing Hatikva on Tuesday. However others, including Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon, defended him, stating that Joubran’s conduct was dignified and he needn’t be expected to sing a Zionist anthem.
A Christian Arab who grew up in the North of Israel, Joubran was the first Israeli Arab to be appointed to the Supreme Court as a permanent member. He has served as a judge on the court since 2003, and became a full-time justice in 2004.