How much of Israel’s political turmoil today is about harnessing the power of Israel’s Judiciary? From the right-wing side, it is all about the Judiciary’s unending meddling in every aspect of Israeli society. But for Israel’s left-wing side, it is not merely about defending the power of the Judiciary. It is not even all about trying to bring down Benjamin Netanyahu. It is an attempt to hold on to whatever power the left still has as the State of Israel moves permanently into a more conservative/religious majority.
Ever since Menachem Begin rose to power in 1977, a constant refrain has happened in response to most elections in Israel. A left wing victory leads to an unrealistic hope for peace, while a right-wing victory leads to an unrealistic concern of the right-wing bringing Israel into the dark ages.
If the left wing wins and sets up a government, which has been quite rare, the reports around the world are for a rare window of opportunity for peace in the Middle East. Instead, a left-wing leadership has always led to an explosion of terror across the State of Israel.
When Yitzhak Rabin won the elections in 1992, he along with Shimon Peres presided over the Oslo accords that handed thousands of weapons to Arabs across the State of Israel. Instead of self-policing Arab towns and cities, the Arab policemen turned their guns on Israelis. Basically Israel, with much prodding from the West, funded the Arab terror movement in it’s midst that directly led to thousands of Israelis killed since the arming of Israel’s enemies.
Eight years later, Ehud Barak, another former Chief of Staff of Israel’s Army, won the election and defeated Benjamin Netanyahu. He tried to give away more of the State of Israel’s disputed lands than any other Prime Minister. This also led to an unprecedented wave of terror that Israel is still paying for till today.
But in nearly all of the other elections since 1977, the right wing has won and the anti-Israel and left-wing supporters across the world have gone into a frenzy lamenting Israel’s lurch to the right. Actually, what has happened over the years is nothing more than the natural demographic result of religious and more conservative Jews averaging 6+ children per family while non-religious and less conservative Jews average far less.
The left-wing protesters today are a salad of masses of scared Israelis. They feel that they are losing their country. They are right and wrong. They are right that the State of Israel is becoming more religious and right wing than at any other time in it’s history. For the foreseeable future, there is no reason to think this trend will not continue. But they are wrong in thinking that Israel is becoming less democratic. It is actually becoming more democratic. The problem for the left is that in a democracy, the majority has more power than the minority. Until now, the minority in Israel was able to hold on to as much power as possible due to the interventionist Supreme Court that had no guard rails. Today’s right wing is trying to right this wrong.
The changes in the Judiciary will probably pass, but in a much more gradual way than originally proposed. It will probably be a process that will take years and not months to make the changes necessary. Sometimes the best way to make radical changes is via swift action that may provoke shock and awe and leave one side sorely bruised. But sometimes it is better to use political acumen that utilizes smart timing and an effective marketing campaign to lay the groundwork for popular support of controversial moves.
The best proposal today is probably the idea of a national referendum on changes in the Judiciary. It will bring a meaningful discussion to the fore and allow the losing side to at least feel that they lost in a somewhat fair fight. Today’s politically charged atmosphere is one that is indeed fraught with true danger of a significant minority feeling completely disenfranchised. It would be a mistake to win the battle outright and lose the minds and hearts of 30% of Israel’s population who are losing power every day via unstoppable demographic trends.