From immunity to immunity. from immunity to silence: The case of Gilad Sharon

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In 2003, Gilad Sharon, the younger son of the late Ariel Sharon, then Israeli Prime Minister, was being investigated by the police for his part in what is known as the Cyril Kern affair, which involved not only illegal donations to Ariel Sharon's campaign fund to become leader of the Likud Party in 1999 but also a long money trail around the world. Large sums of money were being paid to Gilad Sharon as fees for vague consulting services. Since Ariel Sharon was the prime minister and a member of the Knesset, he had immunity from search unless it was withdrawn by the Israeli parliament. Gilad Sharon lived on the same ranch as his father, taking full advantage of his father's immunity. The police refrained from issuing a search warrant of the Prime Minister's private home, but demanded documents from Sharon relating to the money trail. When questioned by the police, he claimed the right of silence, which - so it was asserted by Sharon and his lawyers - covered documents he may have in his possession in his house. Moreover, Sharon claimed that the documents may not incriminate him, but someone else (his father). A warrant was issued by the magistrate's court requiring Sharon to submit the documents. This was overturned by the district court, but finally in December 2003 the Israeli Supreme Court ordered Sharon to submit the documents to the magistrate's court in order for the proceedings to continue. In the paper, the court case will be examined through the semantics of the phrase immunity from following the concept of the semiotic square (e. g., Greimas 1988). It will be shown that the narrative of the case may be built up from one immunity leading to another, and then to a third. The neutral term not liable to + not immune from may lead to silence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-279
Number of pages15
Issue number216
StatePublished - 24 May 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston 2017.


  • Israeli courts
  • immunity
  • right of silence
  • semiotic square

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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