It is not too late Mr. Prime Minister, to avert a catastrophe

By David E. Kaplan

At long last…” began The Jerusalem Post’s editorial on Joe Biden’s long-awaited invitation to Israeli PM Netanyahu. A somewhat discoloured welcoming hardly redcarpet and no mention of White House, and listening on i24NEWS at the time when the news broke, the invitation sounded awkward – unclear on when and vague on venue. It was kind of like “when you are next in town, lets catch up.”  There was not even a hint of “swinging over” to the White House.

Clearly to avoid embarrassment on a number of levels, the feeling-somewhat-marginalized Israeli prime minister wanted ‘some’ invitation out there before Israeli president, Isaac Herzog touched down in the States for his meeting with Biden at the White House to be followed with an address to both Houses of Congress.

Warm Welcome. Isaac Herzog (left) meets with US President Biden at the White House before the Israeli president goes on to address both Houses of Congress where he received multiple standing ovations.

The optics was clear – it was not Israel being snubbed; on the contrary – it was  being joyously welcomed on the occasion of its 75th anniversary – it was its president, Isaac Herzog. And for good reason thought much of the people of Israel who would prefer their PM instead of visiting the White House in Washington, to rather retire to his own house in Caesarea.

There is disbelief that this once immensely respected prime minister, this surmounter of challenges, would transform into an instrument causing such national disunity and dissent. The day following the “invitation”  was the ‘National Day of Resistance’ as mass anti-judicial reform protests convened at railway platforms, highways and intersections – metaphors for a country ‘on track’ and going places.

Joining the multitude of voices warning of the country now going in a wrong direction is someone top-of-his-game in ‘Smart mobility’, Israeli computer scientist and businessman Prof. Amnon Shashua. The company he cofounded and which he remains CEO, Mobileye was acquired in 2017 by Intel for $15 billion and hailed then as the largest acquisition of Israeli technology in the country’s history. Netanyahu, who had a hand in creating hi-tech’s miraculous milieu back then, now has a hand in unraveling all those achievements  with forecasts of a recession due to reactions both local and global to his government’s planned judicial overhaul.

Smart Advice from Smart-Tech Wizard. Holding his technology in his hand, Mobileye CEO and cofounder Prof. Amnon Shashua, warns Israeli prime minister who holds the country’s future in his hands: “Netanyahu, stop the judicial overhaul – It is not too late”.

If in 2017 Netanyahu could say to Shashua the day after the monumental deal that “This is a day of rejoicing for the economy of Israel,” not today!

Titling his article in the online news platform Ynet “Netanyahu, stop the judicial overhaul – It is not too late”, Shashua writes that  although the prime minister received a mandate from the majority of Israelis, that mandate did not include “to alter the face of the nation.”

The Mobileye CEO prefaces his position with:

I am not a political person. Since the government declared its intention to promote judicial reform, I believed with all my heart that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whom I deeply respect, would ultimately do the right thing. This belief was also based on meetings and lengthy discussions with various relevant parties. However, unfortunately, I am no longer convinced of that.”

What Shashua is convinced of is that:

In order to make significant changes in the fundamental principles of our legal system, we must act with a broad consensus that does not differentiate between right-wing and left-wing stances. Such essential changes, like interfering with the independence of the judiciary and its involvement in governmental decisions, concern all of us, regardless of our political positions. We should not approach such legislation with a one-sided and biased approach.”

Warning it is essential to remember “that today the public officials in power represent the right bloc; tomorrow, they may be representatives of the left,” hence “We must seek consensus. If reaching an agreement is not possible, the process should be stopped. It must be stopped.”

Reminding that in the business entrepreneurship world “a CEO of a company that destroys its values is held responsible, regardless of who or what caused the destruction of value,” Shashua sadly laments that  this clearly is not the case in Israeli politics.  Despite the immense damage to Israel’s “security, economy, foreign relations and social cohesion,” the Netanyahu coalition is not deterred displaying recklessness at the erosion of cherished values.

Shashua concludes “all that remains between us and this dangerous change with unclear implications is the citizens of Israel themselves.”

Hence the protests and why they will continue and intensify.

A kindred spirit is Tel Aviv-Yafo mayor Ron Huldai who renamed on Monday 17 July the city’s famed Kaplan intersection  – the epicentre of the anti-judicial overhaul protest movement  – “Democracy Square”.

Israel at a Crossroad. The mayor of Tel Aviv-Yafo, Ron Huldai renames Kaplan intersection in Tel Aviv “Democracy Square” as a tribute to the unwavering spirit of the hundreds of thousands of protestors who have gathered there for 28 consecutive weeks, championing the democratic values that sit at the heart of the State of Israel. (Photo credit Kfir Sivan)

There are two reasons why we decided to rename this intersection ‘Democracy Square,” explains Huldai in a press release. “First, in the State of Israel’s 75th year, it has become abundantly clear that democracy is not to be taken for granted. We want to remind ourselves of that. Second, we want to acknowledge the tireless resolve of those who have gathered here for 28 consecutive weeks in the spirit of democracy. What is more beautiful than coming together in pursuit of common, unifying values? We hope that in the future, years after this threat to our democracy has dissipated, this will serve as a tangible reminder of a period in our nation’s history when thousands of people came together with determination and perseverance to fight for the values outlined in our Declaration of Independence — the values that comprise the foundation of the society we want to live in and want our children to thrive in.”

The resounding message to the prime minister and his coalition is:

STOP! Stop this frenzied assault on democracy before it is too late.

Will future generations lament this chapter in our history or rejoice like in the story of Purim of how we averted a catastrophe of our people. This choice is in your hands, Mr. Prime Minister.

It is time for you to resume running instead of ruining the country.

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).

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.