2A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, March 22, 2004
Israeli court justice discusses
human rights at
Keynote address is part of 3rd
Annual Academic Conference on Israel
By Melissa Benton
Daily Staff Reporter
A better understanding of Israel and its policies
leads to more acceptance and appreciation for the
country, according to Brad Sugar, co-director of the
3rd Annual Academic Conference on Israel.
With this goal in mind, students, faculty and the
public gathered at the Michigan League yesterday for
the conference, titled "Israel: The Successes, The
Setbacks, The Road Ahead." Participants discussed
issues related to the Middle East and listened to
speakers throughout the day, including Israeli
Supreme Court Justice Dalia Dorner.
"The purpose of the conference is to expose the
general public not only to the Arab-Israeli conflict, but
also to other topics in Israel and to debunk some of the
myths about the Arab-Israeli conflict," Sugar said.
Sugar hoped the conference would unite people
through open dialogue. The event's purpose was to help
people understand Israel's progressive agenda and the
difficulty of the Arab-Israeli conflict, Sugar said.
Dorner closed the conference by delivering a
keynote address focused on democracy in Israel and
titled, "Protecting Human Rights in the New Age of
The court system is a vital part of the democratic
process in Israel, Dorner said. "The government of
Israel has never questioned the authority of the court.
The court is the protector of human rights, especially
in times of etergency," Dorner added.
The Israeli Supreme Court has played a key role in
upholding human rights in several cases, she said.
The court ruled in favor of Lebanese citizens who
were being held as "bargaining chips for the future."
The court also ruled that it was illegal to use force to
elicit information regarding future terrorist activities.
Although some may argue that national security is
more important than human rights, the court made
these decisions because "human rights must prevail,"
Israeli law is based on a partial constitution,
which is composed of two basic laws, Dorner said.
The first basic law affirms the value of human life
and dignity and the second provides for freedom of
occupation, she said. Although Israel is currently
developing a more complete constitution, she
stressed that the most important thing is to have an
independent court system.
"The best constitution is nothing without the
courts to enforce it. That's what I teach all law stu-
dents. What's important is the independence of the
courts and a state that accepts the decisions of the
courts - even if they don't agree," Dorner said.
Although the Arab-Israeli conflict is an important
issue in Israel today, Dorner said the court is helpless
to resolve it. "The Israeli Supreme Court doesn't deal
in politics and can't do a thing to resolve the conflict.
But I must be an optimist so I hope for the best that
one day we'll have peace in this country," she said.
"I'm an optimist because when the state was first
established, we were really in danger of being extinct.
But we survived, and today there are people forging
papers to come into our country. Israel, with all its
problems, is a state that's not bad to live in," Dorner
Many students said they came to the conference to
further their understanding of terrorism and the Mid-
dle East conflict.
"I'm interested in the topics because I have a
friend serving in the Israeli army. I want to get a
more broad understanding, especially from this (lec-
ture) because it's about terrorism," LSA sophomore
Sam Maxbauer said.
Students also attended the lecture to learn more
about Israeli law and what they can do to help com-
bat terrorism. "I want to get more of an understand-
ing about the political situation in Israel. I'm
pro-Israel. ... I feel that the terrorism is tragic and
destructive," Rackham student Anne Welsh said.
Dorner said she came to the University
because she felt it was her duty to her country.
"It's a day about Israel, to explain our problems.
Hearing some of the questions, I think I did
good," Dorner said.
She said she also wants to spread awareness about
the positive political situation in Israel. "Israel's
experience as a democracy can serve as a guide for
others," she added.
The conference consisted of several other events,
including a lecture by Lt. Col. Amos Guiora, com-
mander of the Israel Defense Forces School of Mili-
tary Law and Education.
Michigan Daily editors moderated the talks by
Guiora and Dorner.
HEADLINES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Mghan aviation miister killed in gunbattle
Soldiers loyal to a local commander shot and killed Afghanistan's aviation min-
ister yesterday in the western city of Herat, setting off a gunbattle in which as
many as 100 people died in vicious factional fighting, the commander told The
In Kabul, President Hamid Karzai's Cabinet convened in emergency session
after the killing of minister Mirwais Sadiq - a son of Herat's powerful governor
- and dispatched extra troops to try to calm the city.
Presidential spokesman Khaleeq Ahmed said only that the minister had been
shot in his car and circumstances were unclear.
But a top Herat military commander, Zaher Naib Zada, told AP by telephone last
night that his forces had killed Sadiq in a confrontation after the minister went to
Zada's home to fire him.
Afterward, Zada's forces and soliders loyal to Sadiq began fighting with
machine guns, tanks and rockets for control of the city's main military barracks.
Zada said between 50 and 100 soldiers were killed in the first hours of the ongo-
Taiwan leader's re-election comes under fire
Taiwan's High Court ordered all ballot boxes sealed yesterday as thousands of
protesters demanded a recount of President Chen Shui-bian's re-election, saying it
was marred by voting irregularities and an apparent assassination attempt that
wounded the incumbent.
The court said it was sealing the boxes to preserve evidence, but it did not order
a recount of Saturday's vote as requested by challenger Lien Chan. The opposition
also said it would seek to nullify Chen's narrow victory Saturday, arguing he
unfairly received sympathy votes because of the election-eve shooting, which
Chen, who campaigned on a China-bashing platform, and Vice President
Annette Lu were shot and slightly wounded while riding in an open Jeep on Friday
in Chen's hometown of Tainan. Nobody has been arrested, and police have not
identified any suspects. A $718,750 reward was offered for information leading to
an arrest. Chen won Saturday's election with 50.1 percent of the vote compared to
49.9 percent for Lien - a margin of just 30,000 votes.
Insurgents kill two
U.S. soldiers in Iraq
Rebels killed two U.S. soldiers in a
rocket attack in western Iraq, the U.S.
military said yesterday, and two Iraqi
civilians died and one American soldier
was injured in a rocket attack on U.S.-
led coalition headquarters in Baghdad.
A 1st Infantry Division soldier also
was killed yesterday in an apparent
accident during a weapons firing exer-
cise in Samarra, about 60 miles north
of Baghdad, Army spokeswoman Maj.
Debra Stewart said. The incident was
One of three rockets fired in Bagh-
dad landed inside the coalition head-
quarters but caused no significant
damage, a U.S. official said, speaking
on condition of anonymity. The
injured soldier was hit by flying glass.
Some staffers in the compound took
cover in basements.
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia
Islamic party loses
election in Malaysia
Malaysians gave their secular prime
minister a huge election victory yester-
day, smashing a fundamentalist Muslim
party that had wanted to impose an
Islamic state in the Southeast Asian
The results were seen as a personal
endorsement for Prime Minister Abdul-
lah Ahmad Badawi, whose low-key style
has proved a sharp contrasted to his com-
bative predecessor, Mahathir Mohamad.
Many voters - especially the Chinese
and Indian minorities - had feared
Islamic fundamentalism was on the rise
in Malaysia, a country that has detained
scores of suspected terrorists in the past
two years, some linked to al-Qaida.
Abdullah's United Malays National
Organization scored huge gains in two
states in the rural north, the stronghold of
the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party.
The acquittal of a lesbian Methodist
pastor charged with violating church
doctrine drew praise and scorn yester-
day across a denomination that may see
its divisions over homosexuality laid
bare at a major conference next month.
Saturday's acquittal of the Rev. Karen
Dammann was celebrated yesterday at
the church where she used to preachin
Ellensburg, a small town in Washington.
"I'm very pleased," said Dodie
Haight, a member of the congregation
who sat through Dammann's trial about
95 miles away in the Seattle suburb of
Bothell. "I don't think the jury had an
easy task, but I think they gave it long,
thoughtful, prayerful consideration."
- Compiled from Daily wire reports
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