"U.S. support for demonstrations in Tel Aviv isn't about the future of Israel's judiciary. It's about handcuffing Israel while Iran gets the bomb," writes Lee Smith in Tablet Magazine.
The world has learned a lot watching America's Middle East freedom agenda.... The first of these lessons is that when U.S. policymakers selectively deploy the rhetoric of democracy and human rights against target governments, their words are typically accompanied by practical measures to destabilize those governments, including U.S. allies....
"In reality, the maritime agreement was just the latest in a series of initiatives to realign U.S. interests with those of the terror regime in Tehran while alternately sweet-talking and threatening traditional U.S. allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia to fall into line...
"Netanyahu, however, is a problem for an administration still determined to reenter the nuclear deal from which Donald Trump withdrew... But there's no guarantee the famously cautious Netanyahu wouldn't launch an attack now, especially with a right-wing government at his back and the U.S. seemingly preparing to accept Iran as a member of the nuclear club, so long as the terror regime's capacity is limited to just one bomb, or maybe just a few."
In reality, Iran's mullahs will most likely blackmail the Biden Administration for billions of dollars not to use their new bombs "on my watch", as then President Barack Obama put it in 2015. With a new administration, there can be a new blackmail.
Begin with Friday night, January 27 in Neve Yaakov, a Jewish neighborhood in northern Jerusalem. Jews are at a synagogue to pray. An Arab terrorist starts a murder rampage, shooting seven people dead and seriously wounding three others. Scenes of joy erupt in the Arab towns of the West Bank, ruled by the Palestinian Authority, and in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. Sweets are given out and fireworks are set off to celebrate the murder of Jews.
The next morning, a 13-year-old Arab boy shoots two Jews in Jerusalem near the Old City, seriously wounding them.
On February 10, an Arab terrorist rammed his car into a crowd of Jews at a Jerusalem bus stop, killing three people, including two children. The Neve Yaakov terrorist and the 13-year-old Arab boy were residents of Jerusalem; the bus stop terrorist was an Israeli citizen. Arab children who knew the boy were interviewed on television. They described him as a hero and said that if they had a gun, they would have done the same thing.
The Palestinian Authority's "pay-for-slay" jobs-program, paid for by "over $200 million" fungible U.S. taxpayer dollars in funding reinstated by President Joe Biden, incentivizes and rewards the murder of Jews.
"[I]f we had one single penny left, we would spend it on the families of martyrs and prisoners," Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said.
Many Israelis have no illusions anymore. They see that the Palestinian Authority incites Jew-hate, whips up terrorism and tells Arab children and adults that to be a martyr for Islam allows them direct access not only to paradise, but also to generous funds for the terrorists and their families.
Meanwhile, Europe is involved in efforts to block accountability of how their NGO funds are used. No reports on payments to the families of murderers; no reports on terror tunnels or other military infrastructure being built; no reports on how Europe is funding massive land theft by Palestinians of areas that officially belong to Israel. How convenient.
Israelis can see that a growing number of Muslim Arabs residing in Jerusalem have been incited by hate propaganda by the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad; that the number of deadly terrorist attacks have been on the rise, and that Israel's former Bennett-Lapid government was unable to stand its ground in the face of the Biden Administration.
Israelis can also see that the Biden Administration has continually made decisions hostile to Israel, including once again funding the Palestinian Authority without even requiring that it renounce terrorism. The Administration also brought back the goal of a "two-state solution": if a Palestinian state were to emerge, it could -- and most likely would -- be used as a launching pad from which to attack Israel, as promoted in the Palestinian "Phased Plan": Get whatever land you can, then use that to get the rest.
Mainly, Israelis saw that the Biden administration never gave up trying to enable to enable the mullahs' regime in Iran to have unlimited nuclear weapons -- all while the mullahs have made the genocidal destruction of Israel their overriding goal.
Accordingly, on November 1, 2022, millions of Israelis elected Benjamin Netanyahu as Israel's Prime Minister, heading a broad coalition government. As in any democracy, they stand ready to respond to the expectations of the majority who brought them to power. These expectations include fighting firmly against terrorism and other threats, and, as is the first obligation of any government, ensuring the security of the country. The coalition also pledged to restore the balance between the Knesset and the Supreme Court.
In the United Kingdom, Parliament has the final say -- not the High Court. For the last 30 years, this has not been the situation in Israel.
In the 1990s, Israeli Supreme Court President Aharon Barak, declaring that "everything is justiciable," executed a "judicial revolution," through which the Court has arrogated virtually all political power, including the ability to override laws and even operational decisions by the Ministry of Defense and the IDF.
The government's proposed reforms would simply restore the checks and balances and the separation of powers that Israel had before Barak's "revolution."
Since Barak's tenure, Israel's Supreme Court and the Attorney General have become a self-selecting group, unelected by the public or their representatives. Their decisions, lacking a constitution, were increasingly based not on law but on their invented doctrine of "reasonableness" -- often resulting in "whatever I think is reasonable".
At present, Israel's Supreme Court, among other freewheeling entitlements, may overrule a quasi-constitutional Basic Law based on 'reasonableness"; accept petitions from anyone regardless of standing (even if the petitioner would not be directly affected by the outcome -- a provision that has resulted in a firehose of lawsuits by "concerned" non-governmental-organizations); and veto political appointments. According to the columnist Ron Jager:
"The Israeli Supreme Court has over the past three decades created in Israel a judicial reality in which there are literally no limits to its authority, and it recognizes no limits or restrictions to intervene and exercise judicial review by governmental action and/or legislation... The judicial reforms are not out to destroy Israel's democracy but to save and restore it."
Former US Attorney General Michael Mukasey pointed out:
"[I]n view of the court's sweeping self-imposed authority, it is difficult at times to describe the current condition as the rule of law..... Real reform would recognize the distinction between legal issues that can be decided in court and policy issues relegated to the political arena. It would also permit cases to be brought only by parties with a direct and personal interest."
The new Netanyahu government immediately faced radical hostility from both from its political opponents and much of the Israeli media, starting even before it was sworn in.
For years, many Israelis had gotten used to turning to the Supreme Court for favorable "final say" decisions that they were not able to obtain through the elected parliament, the Knesset. Overnight, they now find themselves losing their perch.
The new Israeli government has not violated any of the rules of Israeli democracy. In a democratic country that held a free and fair election, the one thing that does not seem democratic is to demand that the decision of the voters be overthrown.
Nevertheless, on December 1, outgoing interim Prime Minister Yair Lapid declared of the oncoming Netanyahu cabinet: "This is the government that was elected democratically, but wants to destroy democracy". Former Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon last month called for a general strike and -- entirely innocent of the of the irony -- alleged that the new Israeli government wanted to make Israel "a fascist, racist, messianic and corrupt state". On January 15, former Prime Minister Ehud Barak said:
"[T]his government is legal but clearly illegitimate because of its plan to crush Israeli democracy... This is an assassination of the Declaration of Independence, and democracy must defend itself..."
On February 13, Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai threatened:
"[I]f a country becomes a dictatorship via the democratic process, it will only be restored as a democracy via bloodshed."
Behind this subversion, it turns out, is none other than the U.S. State Department, which for years has reportedly been channeling funding to a "far left", "anti-Netanyahu" non-profit organization, the Movement for Quality Government (MQG) .
The journalist Caroline Glick notes:
"MQG began its current campaign of delegitimization, subversion and demonization immediately after the Netanyahu government was sworn into office on Dec. 29. The next day, MQG petitioned the Supreme Court to prevent Shas leader Aryeh Deri from serving as a minister in the government.
There was no legal basis for the petition. But that didn't bother the lawyers at MQG....
"Never mind that the justices have a conflict of interest since it is their powers the government's proposed reforms would check. Never mind that in a bid to prevent politicized judges and prosecutors from overturning the will of the voters, the law explicitly permits prime ministers to serve not only while standing trial, but even if convicted. And never mind that the charges against Netanyahu have fallen apart in Jerusalem District Court.
"Justice Minister Yariv Levin described MQG as 'a gang of lawyers who do not respect the outcome of the election, working to carry out a coup and remove the prime minister from office.... This effort to oust the prime minister in contravention of the law, while trampling on the democratic election, is no different from a coup that is carried out with tanks. The goal is the same...'
"Since MQG's primary activity is subverting democracy in Israel by waging lawfare and sowing chaos in a bid to block democratically elected right-wing governments from fulfilling their pledges to voters, it's fairly clear that when MQG refers to 'democracy education,' it doesn't mean majority rule.
Israel's Supreme Court, by excessive overreach, apparently doomed itself.
Ironically, in Washington D.C., a "January 6th Committee", without due process -- no cross examination, no independent selection of members, no right to counsel, no exculpatory evidence -- pretended to "investigate" as criminal the very same activity that the Biden Administration is backing in Israel: trying to change the outcome of a free and fair election.
On January 6, 2021, Americans had the audacity to enter their own government buildings while police held the doors open for them. For these "crimes", the "January 6th Committee" proceeded as a kangaroo court (here, here and here), with a result called "predetermined."
Israel is and will remain a very much a democracy – just as it was before Justice Aharon Barak arrogated virtually unlimited powers to its Supreme Court. Calls for uprisings and civil disobedience, combined with false accusations of "fascism" -- and the whole focus-group supermarket of pejoratives -- appear to be just sore-loser propaganda.
The Israeli government is trying to restore the democratic institutions that it used to have, of which it has been stripped.
The demonstrations -- despite what the Biden Administration might wish -- are just the loud last gasp of upper-class "elites" who have been entrenched in powerful unelected positions for decades.
That all this undemocratic disruption being done in the name of "defending democracy" just makes matters worse. The reality, sadly, is quite the opposite.
The situation has, of course, created an ideal opportunity for Israel's enemies to vilify and demonize the country even further.
The European media, which generally does not hide its antipathy towards Israel, has published virulent diatribes against the new Israeli government. They say that Israel is ruled by an "extreme right", and speak of Israel's decline and fall. They present the recent terrorist attacks as consequences of a "dangerous government" coming to power in Israel. It was, in fact, terrorist attacks that partly led to the "sweeping victory": most Israelis evidently thought that the new government would do a better job of protecting them.
The Guardian in the UK wrote that a "full-blown Palestinian uprising" is to be expected, and presented the recent Palestinian terrorist attacks on civilians as responses to an IDF arrest raid in Jenin in which "nine Palestinians" were killed. The article omitted to say that the Palestinian terrorists whom the IDF came to arrest opened fire on the soldiers and were killed in the exchange of fire.
The American mainstream media have also been taking harsher anti-Israeli positions. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, anti-Israel for years, wrote that "The Israel we know is gone". "[M]any ministers" in the new Israeli government", he threw in, "are hostile to American values".
Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer and former Middle East peace envoy Aaron David Miller published an column in the Washington Post saying that the new Israeli government possesses "anti-democratic values unfriendly to U.S. interests," and recommended that the Biden administration impose a partial arms embargo on Israel and punish Morocco, Bahrain, the UAE and Sudan for signing normalization agreements with Israel.
At a time when terrorism has struck and with a U.S. administration unfriendly to Israel, it is revealing that professed friends of Israel can talk in such an irresponsible way. They speak of a threat to Israeli democracy? They are a threat to Israeli democracy.
The Biden Administration can barely conceal its contempt for the new Israeli government. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in Israel at the time of two of the Jerusalem terror attacks, rather than condemn them clearly and unambiguously, spoke mushily of a "horrifying surge in violence... we will be encouraging the parties to take steps to calm things down", as if Israel had been the one promoting violence.
Blinken insidiously added that the relationship between the United States and Israel is rooted "in shared values that includes our support for core democratic principles and institutions, including respect for human rights, the equal administration of justice for all, the equal rights of minority groups, the rule of law, free press, a robust civil society." He was giving a lesson in democracy to Prime Minister Netanyahu -- not Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who openly calls for Palestinians to murder Israelis. How thoughtful.
"[T]he vibrancy of Israel's civil society has been on full display of late," Blinken concluded -- meaning that calls for revolt and civil disobedience are in his eyes signs of the "vibrancy" of a civil society -- unless perhaps one is referring to January 6, 2021. During Netanyahu's recent visit to Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron delivered a similar homily.
Many left-wing American Jewish organizations have made clear their rejection of Israel's new government. More than 300 American rabbis from the Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist movements signed an open letter saying they would not allow "extreme ministers" from the Israeli government to address their congregations. Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism said, "the current Israeli government is really pushing away the majority of Jews in North America and the diaspora."
On February 1, more than a hundred prominent American Jews, including former leaders of major mainstream Jewish organizations, published a text accusing the Israeli government of "endangering the very existence of the State of Israel and the Israeli nation." They added, "Israel can be likened to a ship sailing the high seas. The current government is taking out the keel, consciously dismantling the state's institutions."
The Israeli government is trying to prevent the murder of innocent Jews and to stop terrorist attacks. Those, however, do not appear to be the goals that everyone has.
What endangers the State of Israel or any nation is not a government dedicated to the safety of its citizens, but people who seem blind to the real dangers: whether from the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Iranian regime, the Chinese Communist Party.
The greatest danger comes from those who cling to the illusion that diplomacy without the credible threat of military consequences will have any effect. These irresponsible individuals seem to prefer avoiding conversation about such dangers, or else try to downplay them. It is much less frightening to talk about gender pronouns than China's preparations for war.
"I call on the leaders of the opposition: stop this," said Netanyahu. "Stop deliberately plunging the country into anarchy. Come to your senses and show responsibility and leadership".
"There is a new reality in Israel," writes Rabbi Joseph Gabbay, "and the left is incapable of coming to terms with this new reality."
"The demography and ideology of the nation has moved to the right, aspiring to a society based on traditional Jewish heritage and moral values. This is an irrefutable reality. The left which has run the country for decades with the help of an autocratic Supreme Court and which believed without an iota of a doubt that the country belonged to them, and only to them, cannot swallow the idea that the party is over... It is time to calm down and respect the voice of the majority."
According to Lee Smith:
"The anti-Bibi coup looks and feels like the anti-Trump operation because it's run by the same people—the Obama operatives who hunted Trump and now run the Biden White House. It was Obama's spy chiefs who fabricated Russiagate, the politically funded smear campaign designed to destabilize the Trump presidency. And it's Obama's State Department that created the machinery to take down Netanyahu nearly a decade ago by funding anti-Bibi election campaigns with U.S. taxpayer dollars."
Iran must not be allowed to get the bomb -- or even "maybe just a few".
Dr. Guy Millière, a professor at the University of Paris, is the author of 27 books on France and Europe.