In the early days of March, a small crowd of leftists gathered outside the U.S. consulate in Tel Aviv holding up signs reading, "Biden help!" and "Biden, Blinken, Our democracy is sinking."
A speaker at the rally appealed to Biden to "save us from ourselves."
The consulate rally was held under the banner of "Defend Israeli Democracy," which had organized international protests against democratic judicial reform that would have restored checks and balances. International rallies, including one in Berlin which featured women dressed as the "handmaids" from the TV show and signs accusing Israel of "fascism" and being an "apartheid state," were not speaking to Israelis, but to the international anti-Israel left.
Clips from the Tel Aviv rally were remixed by another of the interchangeable anti-democracy groups, Yalla Tikva, urging Biden to save Israeli democracy. The operation was as slick, with professional videography, editing and branding, as it was lacking a clear, transparent structure.
Protests like these were not so much appealing to Biden as coordinating with the administration.
The anti-democracy rallies by organizations claiming to be fighting for democracy paralleled an unprecedented degree of interference from Washington.
"We don't want to interfere," Biden told reporters after Israel had surrendered on reforming the judiciary. "Anyway, we're not interfering."
"They cannot continue down this road," he warned.
On Monday morning, Biden's ambassador delivered an ultimatum to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, ordering him to stop the reforms. Later that day, Netanyahu officially announced a pause on judicial reform.
This followed public statements from every Biden administration official, including Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, warning Israel not to proceed and urging the democratically elected government to turn over the process to its political opponent: leftist figurehead Isaac Herzog, who had served as Marc Rich's lawyer when negotiating a pardon with the Clinton administration.
Why was the Biden administration so obsessed with internal questions such as who picked Israeli Supreme Court justices and whether they could ever be overruled by the legislature?
While the leftist rioters in the streets clamored that they were fighting for democracy, Israel's Supreme Court is its least democratic institution — and the mobs were demanding that it stay that way. None of the American media outlets or politicians accusing the Israeli government of threatening democracy ever got around to explaining why elected officials selecting Supreme Court justices is a good thing in America and a bad thing in Israel. As Ruth Wisse, the greatest living Jewish academic, pointed out in The Wall Street Journal, some of the same advocates of weakening the United States Supreme Court violently denounced efforts to check the power of Israel's court.
The Israeli Supreme Court is mostly immune to democratic influences like elections, and is not governed by a constitution, but derives its power from claiming unlimited standing to take on any cases it likes. But to trigger this superpower, it needs nonprofit groups to bring cases to it. These nonprofits are primarily funded by foreign interests, from George Soros, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Tides Center to foreign governments in the European Union and America.
How it works is simple enough. A leftist nonprofit funded by a foreign government sets out to stop a policy of a democratically elected government. Even though it is in no way affected by said policy, it sues anyway. And even though it lacks any standing, Israel's Supreme Court takes the case anyway.
The actual case, however, was really brought by Soros or the European Union or Washington, D.C. The Israeli Supreme Court acts as a rubber stamp for rule by foreign governments through leftist groups.
While a lot of the online protest groups conducting anti-democracy rallies were unknown, the larger Israeli rallies were led by the Movement for Quality Government. MQG is a serial plaintiff which repeatedly brings cases to the Supreme Court. In 2020, MQG hired a D.C. law firm to investigate Netanyahu. That same year, MQG began getting money from the State Department.
State Department deputy spokesman Vedant Patel claimed that this was false because MQG "received a modest grant from the State Department that was initiated during the previous administration" meant to promote civics in schools.
"Any notion that we are propping up or supporting these protests or the initiators of them is completely and demonstrably false," Patel fumed.
But money is fungible and the State Department was well aware that MQG's primary field of activity was lawfare. The plague of leftist nonprofits funded by foreign governments is an old problem that predates this administration. And touching it is the real red line.
In 2016, there was outrage when the Israeli legislature passed a law requiring nonprofits to disclose foreign funding. Even though the government bureaucracy refused to enforce the law, it nonetheless resulted in MGQ disclosing its State Department funding.
The State Department had claimed then that asking nonprofits to reveal foreign funding would "have a chilling effect on the activities that these worthwhile organizations are trying to do."
Examples of such worthwhile activities included the State Department funding a previous protest campaign against Netanyahu in 2015 using a "peacebuilding" nonprofit named One Voice.
In 2021, Israel cracked down on six nonprofits tied to terrorist organizations. The State Department warned:
"We will be engaging our Israeli partners for more information regarding the basis for the designation. We believe respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and a strong civil society are critically important to responsible and responsive governance."
The pattern is not difficult to spot.
The Biden administration, the European Union and other leftist foreign governments use nonprofits and the legal system to control Israeli policy. When those tools of control are threatened, they step in.
The Obama and Biden administrations fumed when Israel began forcing nonprofits to follow the law, but judicial reform was a line in the sand. Had the judicial reform legislation passed, democracy would have come to Israel. And a bunch of leftist governments would have lost their ability to use their puppets to overrule the will of the people. That was why they did everything they could to stop it.
What the media portrayed as organic protests were nothing of the kind. They were often backed and organized by tech companies. Some of those same companies, to protest judicial reform, announced that they were pulling their money out of Israel and sending it to Silicon Valley Bank. The collapse of the bank, closely associated with leftist interests in the United States, was only a brief inconvenience, since the Biden administration rushed to bail out its depositors.
Israeli startups draw on investments from American companies and investors, many of them close to the Biden administration. The SVB connection, a clearinghouse for woke capital, just spelled out the obvious. The coup against democracy was backed by foreign interests and implemented by the billionaires, who control much of the Israeli media, and leftist activists who are employed by nonprofits funded by foreign governments and foundations.
Political consultants rushed to brand the coup a "democracy" movement, even though there's nothing less democratic than protecting an undemocratic institution from democratic change.
The Biden administration, which had been in on it all along, pushed for a "compromise" from Marc Rich's former lawyer that would keep the left in power even while denying what it was doing.
Prime Minister Netanyahu backed down, as he often has, but the confrontation was revealing because the puppet masters were forced to show their hand. American Jews were largely fooled by the media's propaganda campaign, but Israelis saw all too clearly who the activists and, more importantly, the Supreme Court really work for.
The Israeli left has consistently lost elections while clinging to power through undemocratic institutions like the Supreme Court and fake third parties. It's fighting a war on democracy that it's bound to lose. The "handmaids" marching in Berlin and the radicals holding up posters accusing Israel of fascism in Hitler's city have shown Israelis what they really are.
The greatest threat to democracy in Israel has always come from the left. What was once a domestic oligarchy has evolved into a puppet regime. And the Israeli Zionists have learned that they can expose the puppet masters by pulling on the puppets and seeing who comes for them.
Daniel Greenfield is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. This article previously appeared at the Center's Front Page Magazine.