The unhinged reaction to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new government represents a crisis for the Jewish people both in Israel and in the Diaspora.
This crisis is not principally over the divisions that have obviously opened up within the Jewish world. It is over the fact that so many Israelis and Diaspora Jews have now shown that they have only the shallowest understanding of what being the Jewish people actually means.
The histrionics of this reaction defy belief. Words and phrases like “criminal,” “authoritarian,” “morally corrupt” and “fascist” are being bandied about to describe the new government, even though it has done nothing criminal, authoritarian, corrupt or fascist. Indeed, it has hardly done anything at all yet, since it only came into existence three weeks ago.
And he did evil in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the way of his father [Jeroboam begat all his sons, save one, “in his own likeness”
“And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of his father, and in his sin by which he had made Israel sin.” 1 Kings 15:26
One of the most imbecilic poses being struck, by no less than former Prime Minister Yair Lapid, among others, is telling the public to overturn the government to save Israeli democracy. But the only people threatening democracy are those inciting civil war to overturn a government that has been democratically elected by the people.
The claim that the government’s proposals for judicial reform will destroy democracy is ludicrous. One might think Netanyahu was proposing to abolish the judiciary. All he is actually doing is addressing a situation long identified by people across the political spectrum as in need of reform.
This is the problem of judicial overreach, due to the Supreme Court’s arrogation to itself of oppressive powers. These powers permit it to strike down legislation and even place itself above the nation’s Basic Laws.
The courts control the appointment of not only their justices but also the attorneys who must appear before them—who therefore lack the independence essential in a democratic system—and even place a legal adviser in every ministerial office, with the power to veto any government policies to which the adviser objects.
These powers, which are unprecedented in any other modern democracy, are anti-democratic because they give unelected judges the power to strike down laws and policies enacted by those elected by the public to govern them. The judges can then impose their preferred policies.
The best example of the system the new government is proposing is not some authoritarian dystopia but the United Kingdom—the mother of Western democracy—where Parliament is sovereign and the courts cannot overturn the laws that it passes. They instead ensure that government ministers behave in accordance with the laws that Parliament has passed or have developed through the common law.
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