For the past two years, Israelis have been divided and unable to choose a government. After five general elections, they decided to dismiss the Lapid/Gantz team and put a new coalition around Benjamin Netanyahu in power. However, two months after the formation of the new government, they have changed their minds again. A majority of Israelis already don’t want the people they chose.
Indeed, to everyone’s surprise, Benjamin Netanyahu has formed a coalition with small Jewish supremacist parties. He has promised them to :
• remove from the Basic Law clause 7a prohibiting openly racist parties from running for office.
• amend the anti-discrimination law to allow funding for gender-segregated events or structures and to allow denial of services on the basis of belief.
• compel local governments to fund ultra-Orthodox schools, even if they are not centrally controlled, do not follow the curriculum and refuse to teach basic secular subjects such as Math and English.
• to remove the allocation of food stamps from the Ministry of Social Welfare and entrust it to the Ministry of the Interior. It will apply the criterion of not paying taxes as a criterion for distributing them, knowing that the ultra-Orthodox are exempted regardless of their resources.
However, the Prime Minister was keen to distance himself from his allies. He declared that he would never allow his faith to be used to deny services to an Israeli citizen. “There will be electricity on Shabbat. There will be [mixed] swimming beaches. We will maintain the status quo. There will be no country [governed] by halakha [Jewish law]” “There will be no amendment of the Law of Return” (the Prime Minister’s allies require that any candidate for return prove that he or she has a Jewish parent in the strict sense of the word). He disavowed his son, Yair Netanyahu, for whom the judges who indicted him while he was still Prime Minister are traitors and must be punished as such. Finally, he elected the only openly gay member of parliament, Amir Ohana, president of the Knesset.
As shocking as this program is, it is not important. Benjamin Netanyahu has announced an overhaul of the judicial system that challenges the balance of power on which this unconstitutional country has been based until now, to the point that his opponents are calling it a “coup.
The demonstrations followed one another and grew in number. At first, they were only from the center and the left. Then former allies of Benjamin Netanyahu joined in, and now right-wing groups and, finally, some Arabs.
Drawing a parallel between the current Netanyahu government and the Nazi regime, former Chief of Staff General Moshe Ya’alon said, “The Jewish people paid a heavy price for the fact that in democratic elections in Germany, a government came to power that eliminated democracy, and the first thing it eliminated was the fundamental democratic principle of the independence of the judiciary.
Moshe Ya’alon is a long-time opponent of Benjamin Netanyahu, but in a few weeks, former allies of the Prime Minister have agreed.
Former Likud justice minister and deputy prime minister under Netanyahu, Dan Meridor, spoke at the main demonstration outside the Knesset on February 20. He said, “Who would have thought that we would need to defend democracy in Israel, but it is under attack!”
Former Mossad director Tamir Pardo, chosen by Benjamin Netanyahu at the time, is now one of the coordinators of the protests. In an interview with Kan Public Radio, he accused the Prime Minister of reforming the justice system only to escape it personally. In addition, he accused elements of the government coalition of wanting to build “a racist and violent state that cannot survive.
Former Shin Bet director Yoram Cohen, who was also chosen by Benjamin Netanyahu at the time, told a right-wing rally: “The proposed reform will change the structure of government in Israel, since the executive branch – headed by the Prime Minister – will have unlimited power. The checks and balances necessary for a democratic society will disappear. Every citizen must be concerned about such a situation, regardless of political affiliation. The reform in its current state, [imposed] with brutality and [developed] without dialogue with all components of the nation, could lead to disaster.”
Several petitions from economists and high-tech entrepreneurs have sounded the alarm that the announced reforms will scare off foreign investors. 56 world-renowned economists, including 11 Nobel Prize winners, published an open letter. They wrote: “Israel’s ruling coalition is considering a series of legislative acts that would weaken the independence of the judiciary and its power to compel government action. Many Israeli economists, in an open letter which some of us joined, expressed their concern that such a reform would harm the Israeli economy by weakening the rule of law and thus displacing Israel towards Hungary and Poland.
The justice reform plan will be carried out in four phases, of which, for the moment, only the first phase has been presented to the public.
This phase (phase I) includes
(1) legislating an override provision that would allow the Knesset to pass a second time by a simple majority legislation that was struck down by the Supreme Court;
(2) eliminate the standard of reasonableness for judicial decisions;
(3) strengthen the power of the governing coalition in the Judicial Appointments Committee;
and (4) weaken the status of legal advisors in government ministries.
Phase II will make the Basic Law on Human Dignity and Liberty a mere text with no more value than any other law. It can therefore be easily replaced.
Phase III will limit the right of appeal to the Supreme Court.
Phase IV will divide the current powers of the Attorney General. A second body, a “chief prosecutor”, will be the only authority to bring politicians to justice.
This reform will change the nature of Israel completely. It is openly supported by two think tanks, the Kohelet Policy Forum and the Law and Liberty Forum. The latter is inspired by one of the groups that make up the Federalist Society in the United States; the association that secretly drafted the USA Patriot Act and imposed it on the occasion of the September 11 attacks . The Law and Liberty Forum is funded by the Tikvah Fund, which is chaired by the US-Israeli neo-conservative Elliott Abrams (known for his role in the Iran-Contra affair and in numerous coups in Latin America) .
The Federalist Society and the Law and Liberty Forum’s strategy is to change jurisprudence by changing judges . Over a period of 30 years, the Federalist Society has succeeded in legally justifying neo-liberalism, limiting the possibilities of recourse against big business, deconstructing the way in which the Democratic Party had imagined the fight against discrimination and for the right to abortion, preventing the USA from joining a number of international treaties and, finally, transforming the balance of power in the USA so that the president can wage whatever wars he wants and practice torture.
The originality of the Federalist Society’s approach was to reinterpret the principles of Anglo-Saxon law. Drawing on the writings of the philosopher Leo Strauss, it substituted “natural law” for “positive law. For example, during the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan wanted to deregulate the economy, but he was constrained by law and could not. A Federalist Society theorist, Professor Richard Epstein, argued that property was not a matter of positive law, i.e., conventions drawn up by legislators, but of natural law, i.e., that it was instituted by God. Now, any regulation of an economic activity consists in limiting the way in which certain owners behave. Therefore, any regulation is an expropriation that requires compensation.
Thus, if a law, in the interest of the community, requires industrialists to produce only products of a certain quality, it limits their property rights, and they must therefore be compensated. This interpretation of the law allowed President Ronald Reagan to deconstruct all pre-existing economic regulations.
Most of the Federalist Society’s adherents are just conservative or libertarian lawyers. They were only concerned with family law and economic law. However, within the Society, a small group became involved in international politics. It is this group that influences Israel today. In the United States, it first succeeded in making “American exceptionalism” triumph .
This school of thought refuses to apply international treaties in domestic law; judges the behaviour of others harshly, but absolves Americans who do the same on principle; and refuses to allow any international jurisdiction to take an interest in its internal affairs. In short, it believes that, for religious reasons, the United States is not comparable to other states and should not be subject to any international law. This US ideology is perfectly compatible with the political interpretation of the theological theory of the “chosen people”. If from a religious point of view this means that men who turn to God have been chosen by him, understood literally, it means that men are unequal, with the Jews being above the gentiles (in Hebrew, the “goyim”).
The other major struggle of this Federalist Society group was to overturn the “non-delegation doctrine. American jurists believed that the separation of constitutional powers did not allow the executive to encroach on the privileges of the legislature and to define the criteria for the application of a law. Now, the opposite is true: the separation of powers prohibits the Legislative branch from interfering with the activities of the Executive branch. The Congress thus loses its power to control the White House. It is on the basis of this sleight of hand that President George W. Bush was able to launch a series of wars and to generalize torture.
The links between this Federalist Society group and the Israeli Likud are not new. In 2003, Elliott Abrams organized the Jerusalem Summit with the participation of almost all Israeli political groups. He said that there would be no peace in the world until Israel crushes the Palestinians’ demands .
Following this logic, once the Netanyahu government was formed, General Avi Bluth, commander of Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank, distributed a book to his officers: Ours in Tabu: The Secrets of Land Redeemers From Our Father Abraham to the Young Settlements. It presents as divine will the Jewish occupation of Palestine, whether by land purchase or violence, from Abraham to the illegal settlements.
The first visible consequence of this shift and propaganda occurred in the West Bank when 400 settlers from Har Bracha attacked the town of Huwara. They intended to take revenge for the murder of two of their number, allegedly by Palestinians from that town. For five hours, they pelted the inhabitants, burned several hundred cars and 36 houses. Under the eyes of the Israeli army, which sealed off the village to prevent its inhabitants from fleeing, they attacked them, injuring more than 400 people and killing one. Far from condemning the violence, the Minister of Finance, Bezalel Smotrich, regretted that private individuals had done what he said was the responsibility of the state: to “annihilate” the village.
In the statements of its leaders, the ruling coalition, already complicit in these abuses, announces that it will use the means of the state to extend them to the entire Arab population, not only Palestinians, but also Israeli Arabs.
Mass demonstrations follow one another in Israel, while foreign politicians sympathetic to Israel multiply their warnings. But nothing happens. The process is underway. Bezalel Smotrich sees the Arabs as wild animals that must be tamed by force. But the Minister of National Security, Itamar Ben-Gvir, approaches the issue from a different point of view. For him, God gave the land to the Jews who must expel the Arab squatters from it. Regardless of the points of view, all members of the coalition agree on one thing: the government is sovereign and should not be restricted by laws. This suits Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is under judicial investigation.
What is going on in Israel is not just about Israelis and Palestinians. Elliott Abrams is a historic Straussian, even more so than the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, and his deputy, Victoria Nuland. It is therefore foreseeable that if the “reform” of the Israeli justice system continues, the new regime will be fully aligned with the positions of the Straussians. For the time being, Israel refuses to send arms to Ukraine according to the principle of General Benny Gantz: “No Israeli arms should reach the mass murderers of Jews”. The risk of an alliance between Ukrainian “integral nationalists”, American “Straussians” and Israeli “revisionist Zionists” has never been greater . The United States has just banned the Minister of Finance, Bezalel Smotrich, from visiting its territory. They still sanction his racist remarks, but for how long?
Source: Voltaire Network