By Ron Jager
Leaders of Israel’s progressive left, the heads of the military-industrial/hi-tech complex, the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals, the judicial system, and governmental offices manned by self-appointed guardians of the deep state have all united and banded together for a last stand, as bastions of “white privilege,” rejecting the electoral preferences of the majority of the Israeli voting public. These self-appointed officials in government along with their cohorts in the private sector, ignoring the democratic notion of accepting the will of the people, have declared war, in this case civil war, on the bottom-up demand for judicial reforms proposed by the recently democratically elected government with a clear parliamentary majority, led by Prime Minister Netanyahu.
In a nutshell, the judicial reform will end limitless power for unelected “elites”; the Israeli Supreme Court/Court of Appeals exists and functions outside and beyond the authority of the legislative branch, Israel’s Knesset. 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 recognizes no limits or restrictions to intervene and exercise judicial review by governmental action and/or legislation. The Israeli Supreme Court recognizes legal standing for any person or organization that demands judicial review of any action or legislation decided upon by the Israeli Knesset. The Israeli Supreme Court has given itself more authority, more power than any comparable judiciary in any Democratic nation in the Western world. Israel’s Supreme Court has ultimate exclusive authority and discretion over the appointment of all judges at all levels in Israel’s judicial system, creating a situation in which Israel’s judges lack diversity and are top heavy with progressive judges promoting a world view that is not supported by the majority of Israel’s voting public. Imagine a United States Supreme Court overturning laws passed by Congress based on how “reasonable” the judges believe these laws are irrespective of the legality of the law.
For those of you who remain skeptical after reading recent Israeli headlines in English or hearing the unanimous across-the-board yet misleading condemnations from Jewish American organizational leaders claiming that the judicial reforms are a threat to the very fabric of Israel’s democracy, and I quote: “Endangering the very existence of the State of Israel and the Israeli nation.” I have good news; the reality is the very opposite. The judicial reforms are not out to destroy Israel’s democracy but to save and restore it. Those who are at the head of the opposition to Israel’s judicial reform are nothing more than the last vestiges of the old “elite,” “white privileged” Israelis of European descent who are unable to accept that they no longer have a moral or electoral mandate to decide for the general public. The protest movement against judicial reform has received positive and encouraging support from the media outlets in Israel and from abroad, yet their goal is not to save democracy but to save the power of the ruling progressive elite and the unproportioned power they wield in Israel.
Who are these population groups who dare to question the old order? Who are mad as hell and are unwilling to remain silent any longer. Who are these usurpers who have the gall to no longer put up with the hollowing out of Israel’s democracy and Israel’s Jewish identity, who stop at nothing to impose their own “white privileged” principles, preferences, and values on the Israeli electorate.
As a former Bronx boy who studied in New York City with other Jews who grew up in Manhattan, Riverdale, Yonkers, and so forth, I remember quite distinctly how they referred to those of us who came from poorer and less sophisticated backgrounds as “shvartze chayot.” In today’s Israel, the “shvartze chayot” are also labeled “baboons” and “dispensing machines of poison.” The list goes on and on, representing a number of social ethnic groups in Israel. The dominant and largest group are the secular Sephardic-Mizrachim, and those among them who vote for Shas (the largest religious Sephardic political party), the Haredim irrespective of their ethnic background, and the Dati-Leumi (those who live in central Israel and those who populate the communities beyond the green line in Judea and Samaria). These diverse population groups make up the majority of what has become to be known as the “the second Israel.”
In response, there is a perfect storm of factors that have brought about the judicial reform initiative after the recent elections in Israel. An election that voted for a Likud electoral victory, giving Israel’s newly elected government a clear and uncontested mandate to promote and advance a conservative political agenda including judicial reform. Fixing Israel’s judicial anomaly that has skewed the checks and balances between the branches of government in favor of the judiciary having no comparable judicial system among Western democracies. For this reason alone, the judicial system, and the Supreme Court specifically, have lost the trust and respect of all Israelis. Public support for the judicial system has wavered for a number of years under 10 percent, making the judicial reforms imperative and the expected showdown between Israel’s conservative government and the “elite” of white privilege unavoidable and necessary.
Ron Jager grew up in the South Bronx of New York, making aliyah in 1980. Ron is a 25-year veteran of the Israel Defense Forces, where he served as a field mental-health officer and as commander of the central psychiatric military clinic for reserve soldiers at Tel-Hashomer. Since retiring from active duty, he has been providing consultancy services to NGOs, implementing psychological trauma and psychological education programs to communities in the North and South of Israel. Ron served as a strategic adviser to the chief foreign envoy of Judea and Samaria. To contact him, e-mail email@example.com. Read more of Ron Jager’s articles at 5TJT.com.