Anyone who loves the Jewish state should be speaking out against its proposed judicial reform. Matti Friedman writes.
Perhaps I'm being dense, but after reading that piece it is not at all clear to me what exactly he is so upset about in Israeli politics. It's clear he doesn't like Netanyahu, at least this version, but that's as much as I got from this.
So this rant finally gets to a point and that is the judiciary won’t be left(ist) anymore or something? As Israel has no constitution, what acts as a brake on these judges now.
I suppose this author sees no issue with Joey’s whacko appointments and seriously a company would leave Israel for Palo Alto? California??? So we know exactly where he stands.
I do hope Bari prints an essay from the other side because this one is highly biased and doesn’t impart much real
I have a lot of respect for Matti Friedman and have often appreciated his writing, but this piece is misleading.
One needn't defend either the coalition or the specific laws proposed to reform the judicial system to point out that Friedman's characterizations are wrong. He gives half a sentence to how, sure, the legal system could use some reform, claims that the proposed reforms would "neuter" it and goes on to describe the government, with no judicial checks, installing itself forever.
The judicial system, according to many jurists across the Israeli political spectrum and internationally, has arrogated to itself an amount of power that is itself almost dictatorial. It's easier to imagine it invalidating any election result it doesn't like than the government doing away with elections, because it has already used that sort of power. Catastrophizing the 61-vote override by which the government would, according to one of the proposed laws, do away with judicial review ignores both the tremendous difficulty of getting all the coalition partners to vote the same way on anything and the fact that one of the Basic Laws already has a 61-vote override built into it, which has bothered nobody until now. The government isn't going to install itself forever because the people wouldn't stand for it and they know it.
To say that the protests are not about judicial reform is to deny the evidence of one's senses. Friedman has many other problems with the government, and perhaps they are motivating him to protest, but they're not what's bringing all those people into the streets.
The claim about the government receiving under half the votes cast is just silliness. I voted for a party whose main thrust was judicial reform but which didn't pass the cutoff for a seat in the Knesset. Implying that I therefore don't support judicial reform is obviously wrong, and drawing any conclusions at all about what "the people really want" is a fool's game.
His description of the coalition partners and of Netanyahu's moves is misleading as well. The context of putting Ben Gvir in charge of the police is partly, one can assume, because of the regular musical-chairs of coalition formation and partly because, for all his faults, Ben Gvir has made a point of promoting the cause of victims of violence, especially when the police did too little to protect them.
The cherry-picked quotes are also, frankly, beneath Friedman. There are academics, businesspeople and everything else on both sides of this. Smotrich said that in '48 the Israelis should have expelled the Arabs? So did Benny Morris, an Israeli "New Historian" and one-time darling of the left. When Smotrich was Transportation Minister he did, by all accounts, a good job for all of Israel's citizens. You want irresponsible quotes? Look at the list put together in Makor Rishon two weeks ago of former generals -- the people Freidman thinks show the virtue of the protests -- calling for bloodshed.
And implying that the ultra-Orthodox parties are somehow in this government because they're on the "right" is laughable. Everybody, left and right, who needs them to form a coalition has partnered with them and acceded to their demands for the things that interest them.
I myself don't like to characterize what other people are thinking or why, and I'm not particularly gifted, as Friedman is, at weaving facts together into a narrative. Still, if I were to try to make sense of what's going on to an American audience I'd say the following: The founding generation of Israel, mostly Ashkenazi, educated, secular and successful, and its heirs look around and see a country that has grown more religious, more Sephardi and generally more diverse. Until now it has held the "commanding heights" of academia, culture, media and the judiciary (sound familiar?). This is the first time that's being challenged in a serious way, so of course it's "the end of democracy".
As he says, this is a complex situation, so for my own purposes I am going to assume--while recognizing and admitting that is what I am doing--that this is something akin to the fear mongering that took place when Donald Trump won the election in 2016. He was going to turn us into a One Party State. Our democracy was dead. War was inevitable. The economy was going to crash. Etc. Etc.
It was all BS. Trump was an outstanding President then and will make one again. Far from being an enemy of American Democracy, he seems to be our only hope of reclaiming it from the Permanent War State.
Netyanyahu is a smart man. Perhaps he IS also a corrupt, bitter man. But it seems unlikely all this hyperventilating is worth it. Time will tell.
The writer lost me at “The peace process is dead, as it has been for more than 20 years.” Was he asleep during the Abraham Accords and it’s likely progeny, the most consequential Israeli peace successes since Egypt and Jordan? Smells like TDS, Netanyahu-style. Not interested.
What a hysterical ridiculous article... proposed changes are in line with the rest of democratic world... leftist keep loosing power and use court to push back against the will of majority which is opposite what democracy does mean
Stop importing America's culture war and its histeria.
The proposed judicial reform would enable US-style checks and balances between the judiciary and legislative branches... and the override clause exists in other parliamentary democracies like Canada. It is not the end of the world.
Found this to be rather shallow reading. I'll admit I do not follow Israeli news at all. However, I found this article eerily similar to the elite media and government reporting style of "orange man bad" we've had for nearly a decade in the USA. This could have been made into an exposé outlining specific drawbacks of each component of the new Netanyahu coalition, but instead all I know is there are a lot of poo poo heads running Israel and leftists are not happy about it.
He writes of government attacking it’s own citizens...hmm, sounds like today’s America! Our government ignores the illegal alien invasion, targets and spies o. conservative parents, enables rampant crime, sends all our tax dollars to Ukraine, and tells about hoards of supposed white supremacists hiding behind every tree. Interesting that liberals see it in another country but not their own.
I am very disappointed in Matti Friedman’s latest writings, which up until now I have typically enjoyed.
At least he concedes that the judicial system in Israel requires reform - and I agree that a chunk of the reforms and certainly the way they are being pushed through go too far, not mention useles because what is also necessary is reform between legislative and executive branches.
There are plenty of soldiers and officers, or hi tech workers, who support the government and/or reform who don’t write open letters.
Unfortunately, the very right wing parties did not get a smattering of 5 mandates (like Bennet’s party - the previous prime minister!!!), but 14 seats in government. The ultra orthodox parties together have even more. It has always been more acceptable among the left and center to denigrate religious or settler Jews over the other sizeable sector of Israeli Arabs. Yes, this is the most extreme right wing government in Israel’s history. But why does he not discuss the extremist (yes - extremist) response of left wing and opposition leaders like Ehud Barak and Ron Huldai? In any other country, left wing people would be freaked out by ex generals or defense ministers practically calling for mutiny against security forces and to disobey the ELECTED government, or for left wing veterans to steal an old tank and try to bring it to a protest, or to speak of spilling blood. Let’s be honest - everyone here is a veteran, whether they are protesting or not.
Economically there is major concern Typically people dislike it when the owners and leaders of capital and finances use their influence to affect political discourse - but in Israel because it’s the sexy hi tech sector somehow its fine. We need an independent judiciary and financial institutions, but the same hi tech people making panicky public statement really have no problem leaving the state - it’s the rest of us who will really suffer. The economic question is partially based in reality and partially a wag the dog situation.
If the government cant start really governing and taking control of themselves, then they don't deserve to be a government and they will fall apart. At this point in time I hope so. But to recall, Bibi's opposition was a thorn in the side of Bennet/Lapid constantly, just within the halls of parliament. The current opposition isn’t interested in politics - rather in activism.
Friedman’s analysis is really frustrating and disappointing, because I know he loves Israel but he right now isn’t communicating the level of nuance or complexity that this situation deserves.
In how many other Middle East countries could the author publicly march in opposition to the government and not be teargassed, or beaten, or jailed, or permanently disappeared? My generation fought in the Vietnam War. When our soldiers were lucky enough to return home they had the ability, the right, to protest its idiocy and waste of human life, and vociferously oppose the U.S. government that supported it, within the borders of the nation's capital. That was democracy in practice.
Israel is a beautiful, though imperfect, parliamentary democracy...as are all functioning democracies. If you don't like Israel's current government, then vote it out...it's one of the easiest political systems in the world to do so...it's set up with the voting population in mind, allowing it to remove its ruling party(ies) when confidence in the ruling government is lost by the majority of the electorate.
Maybe the writer needs to leave Israel and come to America Amir Canada and see the anti Israel fervor from a distance. Maybe he is to close and blinded by his ideology. It sounds a lot like the way someone would describe Trump or Desantis here in America from the left. He call Bennett a far right zealot. This is like an NBC hiring member of the Lincoln project or the National Review and calling them conservatives.
Sorry, Israel and America are both I trouble, along with most of the west. But it isn’t because of this authors fears. It is because of the weakness and self hatred of the leftist elites in all our countries. He even seems upset that after Israelis are murdered that the response was swift and overwhelming. Well it should be. It should be worse.
Thanks for your opinion but we will have to agree to disagree. I’m sure the fascism in Canada under Pierre would be more to your likening. Give it a shot.
Very simple Matti. The far left loonies have dragged the responsible left into extinction. Look at the labor party's swan song: Meirav Michaeli and her four seats, projected to disappear in the next elections. That is the tragedy here. The best the opposition can offer is Yair Lapid? With Ehud Barak yelping like a mad man from the bleachers? Continue to protest, you and all the other "good Israelis." The rest of us, well, we just don't care about hollow people who threaten to leave Israel, to pull their money and genius out of the country, or who threaten to refuse orders when in military service, if showing up at all for it. The judicial reform--as long as it stays exactly how it is and is not watered-down by any compromise, will be the most significant improvement in Israel in recent years. For all of us. We've seen the parade of good Israelis' leaders shouting gevalt, and we've seen the clips of those same leaders from less than two years ago saying exactly the opposite--supporting judicial reform with as much fervor as today's Likud. Disappointing. I look forward to the day when we will have a responsible Zionist left-of-center party to challenge us on the right, with original and rigorous Jewish and Zionist and Israeli ideas, and not the warmed-over claptrap spouted by our own version of useful idiots.
It is fascinating to me that this type of division and one half of the country going after the other half is happening in many places all over the world. There is clearly something going on here, and trying to get to the bottom of it is essential.
I agree with the two above. The writer’s fear of their future in power and dislike of Netanyahu and Likud is clear. The objective, policy driven, facts on the ground why is not.
He writes about lies but presents none. Some have fiery rhetoric, even a tragic response to a tragic terror attack - that seems like the cost of living in so close to G-d the last 80 years.
I’m grateful for the list of other readings. That is what will set set The Free Press apart from the rest.
By the time Friedman got to the point (paragraph 15? 16?) I had lost interest. What a badly written column!