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To Benjamin Netanyahu: It’s The Doctor, Not the Disease

Even if people agree that there is a problem with the courts in Israel, its your solution to the problem, not the diagnosis that is in question.

Benjamin Netanyahu

Benjamin Netanyahu Press Conference (screenshot from Israel Channel 12)

With all of the continuing turmoil in Israel over the government’s controversial judicial reform plan, there is one person who seems to think there is no problem at all: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He keeps on saying that there is really no big deal here, most recently in an interview with America’s Fox News.

For example, Benjamin Netanyahu has, on multiple occasions, made the claim that unlike any governing coalition before his in all of Israel’s history, Netanyahu agreed to put a halt to the legislative process behind the judicial reforms and entered into talks with the opposition to try and find a compromise solution that would be suitable to all.

But here Netanyahu is being disingenuous, to say the least. He knows the truth: the Prime Minister only agreed to the suspension of the process after months of massive protests against his plan and calls from the President of Israel Isaac Herzog to take a “time out” so that all sides could cool off. The decision also came just a few days after Benjamin Netanyahu “fired” his own defense minister, Yoav Gallant, because Gallant had made public calls for just such a suspension.

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The firing of Gallant, at the time, seemed like one of those “uh oh” moments in history. But Benjamin Netanyahu relented and later agreed not to fire Yoav Gallant.

Benjamin Netanyahu also likes to blame the opposition for the compromise negotiations falling apart. Again, he knows the truth here.

Netanyahu likes to tell the foreign media that he will not move forward with any new laws taking away the power of Israel’s Supreme Court, after passing the new “reasonableness” clause last week. Unfortunately, he has not made that clear to the Israeli public and his coalition partners as well as some in his own party are pledging that the entire plan as originally proposed will go through.

Netanyahu again made such comments – only in English – while a guest on Mark Levin’s show Sunday on Fox News.

And in doing so, Benjamin Netanyahu chose to speak with a controversial right-wing political pundit. Mark Levin is not known for being a “fair and balanced” interviewer. On the contrary, he is a very loud and opinionated person who uses bitter sarcasm and a snarky tone of voice when talking about people and ideas that he does not like. This is the standard method used by loudmouth radio and YouTube personalities when they are unable to articulate an actual political argument of any kind and/or when they know their audience is incapable of understanding one.

Prime Minister Netanyahu knows this and so he chose his words carefully,

So, what did Benjamin Netanyahu say now?

First, he criticized President Biden for criticizing his government’s judicial reform plan. Netanyahu said that in more than 16 years in office he “never commented on the internal debates of other democracies.” This may be true, but then again, what influence does Israel have over such debates?

And Netanyahu was again being disingenuous here. In 2015 he spoke before the U.S. House of Representatives at the invitation of the Republican majority at the time. The invitation was sent out without first asking the White House about it, as is customary when inviting a foreign world leader to address Congress. Netanyahu knew at the time that the invitation was a way for the Republicans to embarrass then President Barack Obama, that he was being used as part of a political maneuver that affected America’s internal political debate, and he did not care.

And yet Netanyahu had the chutzpah to conveniently mention that there is some sort of dispute right now in the U.S. between the President and Supreme Court – it was not clear what dispute he was referring to – while saying he would not comment on it.

Then came Benjamin Netanyahu’s refrain, “What we’re doing is not weakening Israeli democracy, we’re strengthening it. We’re bringing it back in line to where most democracies are, where Israel was in its first five decades, and where it should be now.”

That may be true in some ways. But Israel is the only democracy where there is just the government, which itself is the majority in the Knesset. There is no upper body that reviews laws, nor can its President veto them. And it is the government that appoints all senior government officials, except for justices.

“What is democracy? Democracy balances the will of the majority with individual rights or the rights of the minority,” added Netanyahu without the slightest sense of irony. His government wants to end judicial review of new laws in Israel. So, who then will protect the minority’s rights if the Knesset passes a new law that harms it in some way?

“That balance has been thrown off the rails in Israel by, as I said, the most activist judicial court anywhere on Earth. And so when we try to restore it, that is said to be an affront to democracy,” declared Netanyahu.

Even if all of the above were true, it does not mean that Benjamin Netanyahu’s solution to the problem will make things any better.

Why not establish a Senate or some sort of upper body to review government appointments, including judges? Or maybe give the President the authority to make such appointments that would then need to be ratified by the Knesset? The alternatives to the government’s plan are numerous, but it won’t even consider them. That is the Problem Mr. Prime Minister. It is not a disagreement over the diagnosis, but rather over the course of action to be taken.



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