Thank you. So relieved to see this after Matti Friedman’s piece. I appreciate and agree with how the article describes the current judicial system. The detested override clause is being pushed more by the ultra orthodox parties, which is certainly alarming for all non haredi citizens. I do agree with Koppel but would add that the current coalition is behaving somewhat like a train wreck even without the protests turning up the heat. Taken all together - the judicial reform with the override clause, inflammatory statements by the new police minister, vaguely changing policies in the west bank with upcoming Ramadan, and the very public gutting of government ministries just to appease politicians (resulting in about 10-15 ministers too many) - create unease even among people who support judicial reform.

I also wonder why nothing is being said about how the Supreme Court also acts as Court of Appeals. Why is there no push to separate it?

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The details of the proposed legislation (like the override clause) would be subject to negotiation if the Opposition would show up where discussions are supposed to take place, namely, in the Knesset building. Instead they have chosen to boycott the proceedings, sow hysteria, and take to the streets. The reason for this is that the reforms would correct the most frustrating aspect of Israeli democracy -- that the Right continually wins elections but the Left keeps ruling, via the supreme and constantly exercised authority of the High Court. The Court has been the self-perpetuating "home court" of the Left for decades, where everybody has standing and every Government decision is disputed.

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It is gratifying for this subscriber to see a balanced presentation.

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Mar 10·edited Mar 10

Why do you act like the override provision is a side clause? The main effort of the protests is to stop the override clause because it would essentially end judicial oversight in Israel. Your essay says 1) we need judicial change, 2) these are the proposed changes, and 3) by the way, there’s an override clause that we don’t support. Most Israelis agree with 1 and a majority probably agree with most of the proposed changes. But the override clause is a complete show stopper and this clause alone is what is driving the divide right now between Israelis. To act like the override clause is some innocent side note is disingenuous. Your essay states that there needs to be checks and balances and I fully agree. Due to the override clause, there would be NO checks and balances. And at no point have the coalition leaders Levin and Rothman said they are willing to remove the override clause.

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The key here is that Israel has no formal constitution with checks and balances. Maybe they should concentrate on creating one.

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Thank you so much FREE PRESS for providing us access to all sides of the issue. Barri, after reading your book about antisemitism I now understand how this all works. Once the legacy and mainstream media refers to the legitimately elected government in Israel as "FAR right " or unhinged fascists it provides the conditions for the real antisemites to mainstream their Jew Hate. The rest follow. Jews in the diaspora need to pay very close attention and stop seeing Israel through your limited American lens.

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Mar 15·edited Mar 15

This conflict had to happen. Israel needs more than The Basic Laws; Israel needs a Constitution, with a Bill of Rights that provide better guide rails than what they have now. I look forward to the "constitutional" compromise that is coming out of this conflict. Let's hope it does not look like the 3/5th compromise of our Constitution, which guaranteed the Civil War since it was in direct conflict with the Declaration of Independence. But I have faith in Israel; after all I remain a proud American Zionist.

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Given the high quality of The FP commenters, I do not hesitate to recommend Israeli legal scholar Netta Barak Corren's recently published analysis and recommendations, which is available on her website (luckily translated into English). It's a valuable resource for the educated reader looking to learn more about this unprecedented situation.

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Mar 12·edited Mar 12

"For all its unruliness, no Knesset has ever suggested anything remotely like canceling elections."

There has never been a Knesset as hardline, Orthodox and extreme right-wing as this one, in which the Likud party is the quasi moderating 'adult in the room'. Limiting civil rights of Arabs, LGBTQ individuals or the non-Orthodox is not far-fetched in the least.

When the judiciary is effectively neutered and 61 'you scratch my back I'll scratch yours' potentially corrupt MKs have free rein to legislate away any rights they wish, we should not be surprised if elections are 'tweaked' to allow Netanyahu to stay in power indefinitely.

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Thank you TheFP for publishing this explanation of what is going on in Israel. Also, I'm glad to see that articles are kept in chronological order, rather than putting the ones with the most likes/comments first. I didn't notice this article until today, so I must have missed it when it was on the "front page". I am hopeful others will see it also as I think it presents a sober, fact-based rebuttal to the article by Matti Friedman. I don't understand the hatred against Netanyahu. I don't doubt that he has his personality flaws, especially after having so much power for so long. Yet, I also don't doubt his love for Israel and the Jewish People.

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Kudos to Koppel and Kontorovich for their brief but clear explanation of why judicial reforms are so needed in Israel. One aspect which they allude to but do not explain and develop sufficiently is that Barak's basis for his self-declared juristocracy is a verbal sleight of tongue in which he deftly but deceptively redefines "democracy". The Jeffersonian democracy of government by the consent of the governed or Lincoln's formulation of "government of the people, by the people, and for the people" -- concepts deeply familiar to Americans -- are dismissively disparaged by Barak as "formal democracy".

In its stead he posits "substantive democracy" by which he means rule by the judicial system, as headed by the Supreme Court, unfettered by the presence or absence or plain meaning of laws passed by the legislature or policies favored by an elected government. Rather the views and values of the "enlightened" and "progressive", i.e., the elite slivers of society are to guide the promulgations and pronouncements of the court. And who better than to posit what the are these views and values than the justices of the court who, under the Israeli system, effectively propagate themselves by blocking the appointment of any contrary judicial philosophies.

Some additional reading to understand Barak's distortion of democracy:

Shortly after he reached the mandatory retirement age (70) Barak published a book, "The Judge in a Democracy" in which he explained his anti-democratic judicial philosophy. Two reviews:

Richard Posner, a distinguished US jurist, judge and law school professor, reviewed the book and the title of the review says it all: "The Enlightened Despot"


And if his name does not cause you paroxysms, the late Robert Bork also reviewed the book: https://azure.org.il/download/magazine/1119AZ_27_bork_review.pdf

Posner's review cites Bork's several times.

In addition, two articles by one of Barak's long time critics, Jonathan (Yonasan) Rosenblum, and whose own legal knowledge would really irritate Barak especially since Rosenblum is ultra-orthodox (Rosenblum is a graduate of University of Chicago and Yale Law school, long before the latter wokified into ridiculousness).



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While the election was democratic, Bibi Netanyahu deliberately selected coalition partners from the ideologically dangerous far-right segment of the political spectrum plus added, for good measure, the even more outrageous religious-theocratic-far-right who wasn’t even needed to have a majority because he knew they would be perfect MK ‘lawmakers’ to bring about the most oppressive policies and legislation, leading to autocratic governance in the long run, possibly for 4 years or more. Israel’s majority citizens, believing deeply in democracy – given our past tragic history - inflicted on us by the very same ideologies 75 years ago, are ought to demonstrate not to repeat a grave historical event ending up with a dictatorship.

The Kohelet’s esteemed Think-Tank experts have not looked at the lawmakers who will carry out those laws they are proposing thus would have been far more to the point by strongly advising for a brand new, broadly-agreed-upon constitution if they honestly advocating for a democratic future in the only Jewish state and not an illiberal, frighteningly, far-right one.

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Really grateful for a piece that actually explains the judicial / legislative tension and what the reforms would actually do. Most US media coverage conveys a lot of alarm but little substance when it comes to Israel's past three months. Thank you for publishing something informative! And happy to hear informative counter-opinions, as well. I hope Bibi carries on with the reforms eventually.

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I knew there had to be more to this than what I was reading everywhere - thank you Free Press!! This article makes me grateful we have a Constitution in the US that spells out our checks and balances, despite imperfect execution. Both Congress and our Supreme Court have certainly made some terrible decisions in accordance with the times yet it seems we are always able to course correct. At the end of the day only Congress can make the laws while the Court determines Constitutionality. Court appointments are ultimately in the hands of the People through the elected Executive Branch with the political pendulum tempered by lifetime appointment. The journey is messy and slow but the road map is clear, and I pray Israel will find a solution to uphold their democracy. Onward Freedom Fighters!

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Mar 27·edited Mar 27

It seems that people are protesting the override aspect of these reforms more specifically, but there is a clear push to make this appear as a more obtuse critique of the entire reform; so as to obfuscate the actual specific issues people are upset about. A fairly classic political tactic we see everywhere... This article simultaneously does a great job explaining the very legitimate reasoning for the reforms, but also seems to be a bit guilty of the same obfuscation of the singular issue being protested (the override) without really addressing how clearly problematic it is.

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Elites in Israel rely on the high court to impose their vision on the rest of the country.

Elites in the US rely on elites in Israel to get Israel to fall in line with their foreign policy designs.

A challenge to the power of Israel's high court, then, is a challenge to the authority of the transnational partnership of elites, in which Israeli elites are the junior partner.

The thing is, the elites really do see that authority as rightfully theirs. That's why we've seen the apoplexy from such august institutions as The New York Times. For example, Thomas Friedman recently likened Netanyahu's judicial reforms to Putin's invasion of Ukraine!

I think Friedman had things backwards when he ominously warned that Israel might not survive such a mistake. Just look at how dangerously out of touch the ruling elites in the US have drifted, from urban crime to the Iran deal to the DEI industry and the war on merit.

Being under their thumb is terrible for America. For Israel, it could be fatal.

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