As Bibi’s ‘’reasonable bill’ advances in Israeli Knesset, country retreats into the abyss

By David E. Kaplan

If the US is reassessing its relationship with Israel’s leadership, they are only following the example of the citizens of Israel.

Uproar in the House. The fate of the nation resting with Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (r) speaking with Justice Minister Yariv Levin as the Knesset deliberates a bill to cancel the judiciary’s review powers over the ‘reasonableness’ of government decisions, in Jerusalem on July 10, 2023. Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

When some 300 reservists in cyberwarfare units issued a letter on Tuesday saying they would not show up for volunteer reserve duty after the Knesset okayed the first reading of a bill to eliminate the High Court’s ability to rule on the “reasonableness” of government decisions, it exposed a gaping wound in Israeli society explaining the shocking but not surprising rebellion within the ranks. When defense minister Yoav Gallant ‘shot’ back at the protesting reservists saying they were “giving a prize to our enemies” he was missing the most important point:

 that a sizable resilient chunk of Israeli society now see the current government as the “ENEMY”.

Message from the Military. Preceding latest developments of reservists refusing to serve in protest, IDF Reservists and activists protest against the government’s judicial overhaul, outside the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem back in March 2023. (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

The cyberwarfare reservists were following in the wake of the nearly 200 Israeli Air Force fighter pilots – some of whom “conducted covert Israeli operations” – who too are refusing to continue serving as reservists in protest against the government’s proposed judicial overhaul that they see as an assault on their country’s democracy. This new, never before phenomenon is literally chipping away at Israel’s armour –  because an angered people have been awakened and see what Gallant fails to see that this extreme right-wing government  is now the ‘Enemy of the People’.  If Bibi and his gang – albeit elected –  succeed in their pursuit, staying out of jail for the prime minister is the least of the people’s concern. What is existentially worrying is if this government succeeds in passing all their rotten bills it will be the end of the vision that most Israelis share of a liberal democratic Jewish state.  And THIS is what is worth fighting for. This is why the reservists are threatening not to serve and why the people en mass have enlisted to fight this government week after week now entering its 28th week.

Taking the Hight Ground. Israeli fighter pilots are refusing to train joining in the wave of protests across the country against the government judicial ‘reforms’. (Photo by Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

And the people protesting are in good company. Given that the government could pass key legislation aimed at radically overhauling the judiciary within days, former attorney general Avichai Mandelblit who had been appointed to this position by Netanyahu in 2016, warned as well this week – that the country stands on the “brink of dictatorship.”

Beware of Bibi. Warning today that the country stands on the “brink of dictatorship” because of Netanyahu’s policies, the former attorney general, Avichai Mandelblit is seen here as Bibi’s cabinet secretary back in September 2014 with the prime minister (left). (AP/Menahem Kahana, Pool/File)

Mandelblit, who was once a close confidant of Netanyahu and served as his cabinet secretary from 2013-2016 before being appointed attorney general, said on Channel 12 that the proposed legal overhaul was “not reform” but “a revolution, regime change. It’s a complete change of the DNA upon which we grew up, and the upshot is the elimination of the independence of the legal system from end to end.”

And like before the Rabin assassination, once again the warning signs are there.

The bitter divide over the planned overhaul,” continued former attorney general Mandelblit, “will lead to violence…..and somebody or some people will pay the price in blood. That’s what will happen.”

Crazed Crony. Derailing Israel’s democratic future, a frenzied Simcha Rothman, head of the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee at the committee meeting on the planned judicial ‘reform’, at the Knesset in Jerusalem on July 12, 2023. (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

This is the state of our State that Netanyahu has brought upon his people who he once so admirably served and now threats are there to serve him.

I cannot go anywhere today whether to my physiotherapist, hairdresser, a funeral or paying a condolence call without engaging in conversation about the “matzav” –  Hebrew for the situation. I believe it is the same for most people for what is more important today than our future tomorrow? 

Israel Today – Ministers Applaud, People Protest. Government ministers celebrate after the Reasonableness Standard Bill passes its first reading in Knesset. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

And the message from the US could not be clearer. By inviting the president of Israel, Isaac Herzog to address next month the US Congress, while still not extending the customary invitation to Israel’s prime minister to visit the White House, is a reassurance  that the much talked about widening rift  between the US and  Israel is only between the US administration and the Netanyahu government – not the people of Israel. This will be visually affirmed to the entire world watching on TV when the members of both Houses of Congress, rise repeatedly on their feet to give rousing ovations to  President Herzog. The people of Israel will also be on their feet  as they again and again will take to the streets across the country to protest until this nightmare comes to an end.

Let’s end the nightmare of Netanyahu so we can return to the dream of Herzl.

While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO).

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