In 1948, a handful of Jews performed an act of political resurrection when they re-established a state in the land of Israel. Daniel Gordis asks: Has it fulfilled its founders’ dreams?
Gordis is correct about there being a lot of hatred, though it's hard to know how deep it goes. It's fair to assume that Israel has simply caught whatever America has, as it always does. It used to take 10-20 years, but I guess now with communications being what they are it's almost instantaneous.
I've been telling my friends, some of whom are involved in efforts at rapprochement or the judicial reform, that they should look to the best of what's been written about America, by people like Haidt, to get a leg up on dealing with Israel's problems.
Which brings me back to this interview. Gordis is a good guy, but he has catastrophized the judicial reform. Right now, this very moment, there is no institutional check on the Israeli High Court. It has abandoned the requirement of standing, which means it'll take a case from anyone who cares to complain about a government action (or inaction); it has declared everything justiciable, which means it is willing to overrule absolutely anything the government decides; it has denied the government independent legal counsel; and it has ruled without any reference to the legal code.
Were I of Gordis' cast of mind I would say Israelis are already living under a dictatorship, and besides what I've already described I can easily bring specific cases where the Court has used these powers to demolish people's homes, hold suspects -- even minors -- for long periods without charging them, abrogate property rights and prevent the free exercise of religion. But while all that is true, it isn't enough to describe Israel as a dictatorship or to entertain serious fears of it becoming one any time soon.
The same is true for the proposed judicial reforms, but catastrophizing them justifies any-and-all opposition, from blocking major highways to trashing Israel among the western financial and political communities.
The proof that the panic is ginned up can be seen in the threats that the protest organizers have made against the center-left parties who are trying to hash out a compromise with the government. The organizers don't want to neutralize the danger from the reform, they want to topple the government. This isn't my interpretation, it's what they're saying.
I'm not going to bore the reader (any further) by showing where Gordis is wrong about the history of the reform and Netanyahu's relation to it, or where public opinion stands, or any number of other things. One thing worth mentioning, though, is his focus (and yours, Ms. Weiss) on some unpalatable coalition members. Here, too, we have echoes of our current moment in America. Kevin D. Williamson has written often about the "cooties" mentality, where your association with the wrong people by itself makes you tainted. And many have commented on how each side sees its extremists as aberrations and the other sides extremists as representative (and don't think Gordis' side doesn't have extremists -- people in positions of authority who've called for civil war, bloodshed and political assassination).
Ordinarily, you work against this sort of wild overreaction. It's too bad you didn't do it here too.
Once the people currently collapsing the United States from within ‘finish the job’, Israel will be at the very top of their to-do list.
One thing irritated me about the presentation of the issues:
The protestors frame their crusade as a struggle for "democracy", yet the majority coalition was elected by ... a majority, while the judiciary is unelected and unchecked. As usual, "democracy" is defined as "whatever the left desires".
If you are going to focus on another countries internal struggles it would be better to give a fair hearing to both sides and what their concerns are. This was not a particularly helpful piece in understanding what is transpiring in Israel.
The acreage granted to the Jews who remained after the Holocaust was niggardly and left little room for population expansion. In 2023 AD, or if you insist CE, as in Christian Era, I have no sympathy for the Palestinians. They should apologize for their atrocities and find a new home. Unfortunately, but deservedly, no one wants them.
My best wishes for God’s Chosen People. Shun Leftism. it is intolerant and tyrannical.
This crazy, brilliant and maddening bunch of desert nomads who make us laugh and cry, entertain and teach us, heal us and who bequeathed us the basis of civilization, morality and God. If they didn't exist, we'd have to invent them. Is it their deep sense of justice that leads many to embrace the false lure of socialism and leftist causes? As even the author concedes, until Israel cast off its fascination with the collective, it remained economically weak, with soaring inflation and almost in default. Why then this paean to the protests, which are of the left and seek to maintain the hegemony of an unelected Supreme Court that meddles endlessly in legislative matters and functions like the ancient Sanhedrin? (although, in fairness, the links to more rational views was helpful) Bari? Anyone? This cultural leftism truly baffles me.
It’s an interesting article, but I would hope that an article from the Israeli right gets shared, too. Every Jew should love Israel and I’m afraid, here in America, the Jewish left have left the love fest. Am Yisrael Chai! Long live the state of Israel, regardless of its political and judicial warts.
Bari, as an Israeli living in the US, and who loves your work generally, I'm disappointed in your approach to this subject.
After Matti Friedman's essay, I was hoping that this time around you'll bring someone (for or against, it's your choice) that will go into the details of this incredible constitutional moment that Israel is going through. Typically a nation's constitutional moment is at its time of birth, but not here. Instead, you chose to (again...) bring someone who does not add anything substantial or detailed to the table, but again whines and panics about how bad Bibi and IBG are. How can you "paint in broad strokes" as you put it, a judicial and constitutional crisis that has been 75 years in the making, created by Ben Gurion and weaponized by Aharon Barak?? There are incredibly interesting and fascinating questions to be asked here from the legal and political science standpoint, and all we get (yet again) is a subjective emotional point of view of a single individual? It would've been intriguing to have a discussion similar to the one you had with the Yale constitutional law expert after the Dobbs ruling.
Please keep up the good work! Up and Up
I am attaching a three part series on this topic.
The other side of the debate.
Secular elitism is the destruction of Zionism; Israel must, if it is to survive as a Jewish state, avoid at all costs the malaise of our western liberal post-modern nonsense. Israeli culture must embrace a muscular nationalism based on the Jewish culture and yes identity and thereby exclude, yes exclude, non Jews. It’s a big world, tell them to go elsewhere; the all encompassing nonsense of globalization and cultural annihilation preached from the pulpits of the liberal cathedral cannot be allowed to destroy Israel, and destruction it will surely bring. The religious left will destroy Israel, their nonsense will lead to another catastrophe for Jews, what Alexander Solzhenitsyn called: “the pitiless crowbar of events.”
If any group can escape the nonsense afoot in this world, it must be the people who survived the holocaust; you must defeat the leftists or perish.
Divided societies and civil wars are deeply partisan by nature, and Israel's current struggles are no exception. Our own Supreme Court has passed rulings that are not terribly popular with much of the nation, and I believe that rule by judicial decree is the result of in ineffectual or non-existent legislature. The similarities of Israel's plight and our own seem obvious; the solutions, not so much.
There are several facts that come to mind. When the U..S was celebrating it's 75th fourth of July, Blacks were enslaved, Native Americans were systematically being slaughtered, children were working in mines & sweat shops & women were disenfranchised. So people in glass houses.......! The majority of Israeli Jews were either survivors of the Shoah or forced to flee Muslim countries where they had lived for a mellinium. The majority landed in what is now Israel because there was no where else to go. No one country wanted them. The Shoah along with the universal rejection by every civilized nation is & will always be a stain on humanity. Why should there exist a Jewish state? It's estimated that several hundred thousand Jews were killed by the Romans. Not to be outdone Islam including Mohammad, Saladin & the Ottomen Empire killed several hundred thousand Jews. The Crusaders murdered 1-200,000 while the Inquisition murdered 3-400,000. Pogroms managed to murder 200,000 & we all know the number murdered between 1933-1945. And the beat goes on! Wir sind zuerst Deutche, Keine Juden. Food for thought!
What a remarkable people, and what a powerful story of survival and success. I have no fear that the Israelis will fail in their experiment of independence as a modern democratic state. Mazel tov!
I’m left feeling like I’m missing a big chunk of the story. But to be fair, I can’t be bothered to pay attention to US politics anymore as it makes me too angry so the politics of another country are not on my to-do list.
Well, this is going to be a "messy question" but I am left wondering how the Israelis will answer "the Palestinian question"...
Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see. May God continue to bless the State of Israel.