Pushing through nation-divisive bills, Netanyahu is gambling away his people’s future for his own
By David E. Kaplan
In 1993, when he was Israel’s charismatic standout spokesman and still three years shy from being his country’s prime minister for the first time, he published his impressive work on Israel’s rightful place in the world:
Now 30 years on in 2023, it is Benjamin Netanyahu’s “PLACE” as prime minister that is being called into question. The man who has served as Israel’s longest serving premier, has in only seven months transformed from being praised as one of Israel’s greatest leaders – for good reason – to being reviled as its worst – also for good reason. Having taken the country to great heights, he is now driving it to unforeseen lows!
Writing in the right-leaning The Jerusalem Post, Amotz Asa-El refers to the final reading of the law abolishing the protective reasonable standard by 64-0 with the opposition boycotted the vote as “Benjamin Netanyahu’s day of infamy” – a poignant reference to Japan’s surprise attack on Pearle Harbor in 1941. It is also the title of Asa-El’s article with the subhead reading “Netanyahu earned his place in history as the man who tore Israeli society and led it to civil war.”
It may well not come to that but Netanyahu seems reckless as to whether his actions are leading in that direction. For Netanyahu, those opposing him – whom he disdainfully characterizes as either misinformed or misdirected – simply don’t seem to understand him when he says, “ I am actually strengthening democracy.” Securing a platform for his Orwellian-speak with Fox News’ Life Liberty & Levin, Netanyahu took a swipe at President Biden when he told the conservative talk show host Mark Levin that “Everybody has an opinion on Israel,” but that he “doesn’t comment on internal debates in other democracies.” In other words he, Bibi, is always reticent in the affairs of it friends, and that he Biden, should keep his opinions to himself. Netanyahu conveniently forgets or ignores how in In 2012, he all but campaigned for Mitt Romney against Barack Obama. Inter alia, Netanyahu’s backer, the late Sheldon Adelson, held a high-profile fundraiser for Romney in Jerusalem in what Joe Klein in Time magazine called an “unprecedented” interference by a foreign leader in a U.S. election. Klein described Netanyahu’s behavior at the time as an “unprecedented attempt by a putative American ally to influence a US presidential campaign.”
There are those in the coalition arrogantly playing down the significance of the striking down of the reasonable bill like Likud MK Boaz Bismuth, who thought he was being highly entertaining by dismissively remarking on i24NEWS before the predictable outcome of the vote that “tomorrow the falafel in Israel will still be democratic.” Jokingly presenting Israel’s democracy as a falafel to a TV audience, Bismuth knows the reality – that the impact will prove monumental and the opening salvo on weakening Israel’s judiciary.
Why all of a sudden is it so important for this extreme right-wing governing coalition to remove the reasonable protection provision from Israeli statutory law?
For starters, the elimination of the reasonable doctrine obstructs the Supreme Cout from cancelling executive decisions that are extremely unreasonable. Looking back historically, the Supreme Court has rarely intervened using this provision and has never blocked any national programme whether economic, social, economic or defence related. The obvious inference is that you only want the ‘Reasonable’ provision cancelled unless you want to implement something “unreasonable”.
This begs the question of what “unreasonable” does Bibi, Boaz and their cohorts in the coalition want furiously carried out before there is another election or before Bibi becomes mired in his criminal proceedings?
- Will he use this power to make unreasonable appointments like a convicted felon Arye Deri as his finance minister?
- Will he fire the politically independent Attorney General which he has threatened to do?
- Once Netanyahu has his ‘yes men’ in position, will he then proceed to wiggle his way out of his bribery, fraud and breach of trust charges by engineering a more pliable new Attorney General to drop all the charges?
- And then for the Holy Grail of this coalition’s wish list, will he annex the West Bank and expand settlements.
Did not Justice Minister Yariv Levin , the architect of Netanyahu’s judicial overhaul today, say back in 2017 when as Minister of Tourism that:
“We are not seeking ‘creeping annexation’; we are looking for justice for the residents… and if there are those saying that through legislation we are advancing ‘creeping annexation’ — we won’t argue.”
They won’t argue!
There you have it in the words of those not running but ruining this country. This judicial overhaul that will according to Bibi “strengthen democracy”, will instead liquidate any chance of salvaging the ‘Two State Solution’ and resolving the Israeli-Palestine conflict that has persisted for over a century.
Interestingly, what was Likud MK Boaz Bismuth’s reaction when it was announced that the scrapping of the reasonable bill is being seriously challenged and for the first time in history, the Supreme Court with an extended bench of 15 justices will consider petitions on 12 September? Without any derogatory felafel references this time, he tweeted:
“15 people wearing judges robes replacing 120 representatives of the people….this is the end of democracy.”
A befuddled Bismuth omits to mention that those “15 people wearing judges robes” in Israel’s absence of a protective second house of parliament or a constitution, offers the only protection against the “unreasonable” conduct of a wayward government.
Boaz was quickly supported by the irascible Likud MK Tally Gotliv, who similarly tweeted that “I will not respect a High Court ruling to strike down the reasonableness bill.”
The battle lines are drawn.
While Netanyahu concludes on the last page of his A PLACE AMONG THE NATIONS that “If the central aim of the Jewish people during its exile was to retrieve what had been lost,”and that “the purpose now is to secure what has been retrieved,” he may sadly end up the ‘author’ of his own misfortune and possibly that of his country by sabotaging its future.
If this prime minster continues unimpeded on his present path, the architecturally beautiful Supreme Court building in Jerusalem – the focus of Israel’s present plight – will remain just that – a beautiful building, an edifice to what was rather than what we are and what we could be.
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