Christian-Arab Supreme Court Judge Salim Joubran sparked a small controversy at the end of February during when he stood for the national anthem but did not sing the words. The Deputy Prime Minister and fellow judges defended his actions as fair and respectful to the State of Israel, but several right wing MKs called for his dismissal and cited his behavior as a reason not to respect the Supreme Court. The New York Times dubbed the bru-ha-ha “a kind of Rorschach inkblot test about the nature of Israeli democracy.”
MK David Rotem (Israel Beiteinu), chair of the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee and member of the Judge Selection Committee, said he wanted to fire Salim Joubran and said he would discuss the matter the following day with the Minister of Justice, Ya’akov Ne’eman. MK Avigdor Lieberman, finance minister also joined the chorus, saying that Joubran had a split personality and that one cannot be a supreme court justice while shunning Israel’s national anthem.
MK Michael Ben-Ari (Ichud Leumi) also condemned Joubran’s failing to sing the words. He attempted to propose a bill that would require sitting Supreme Court judges to have previously served in the IDF but the bill was rejected. Joubran, being Arab, was exempt from IDF service when he was of service age.