The unsung heroes of the Israel Supreme Court controversy

The Supreme Court setting itself up as the sovereign authority in the land impels the government towards "pragmatic" laws that will not fall foul of the Supreme Court, to err on the side of caution. This makes the Israel Supreme Court a politburo, the very negation of democracy.

The unsung heroes of the Israel Supreme Court controversy

First things first. Congratulations to all who have had the vision, the courage and the tenacity to recognise the need to act against a usurping Supreme Court, and to stand fast in the face of nine months of unbelievable assaults, both on their democratic victory and on their persons. 64-0 is not to be sniffed at. Unfortunately, you cannot rest, for already your enemies are hard at work, determined to defeat you by whatever means. May you prevail, and your democracy be safe.

“Journalists attacked at pro-reform protest in Tel Aviv,” screams the Jerusalem Post headline about the rally in support of democratic restoration, aka judicial reform, yesterday, 23 July 2023. Tzvi Joffre's article wastes no time in informing its readers of the multiple horrors that there took place. First line: “signs saying that ‘The High Court of Justice is dripping with Jewish blood’.” Next line: “An N12 journalist and a Channel 13 journalist were attacked by protesters.” In the Post’s own words, the “attack” videos “showed protesters surrounding the journalist and the camera crew and pushing them, with a police officer attempting to intervene,” (the police did intervene, successfully, and the pushing stopped). Either way, "pushing" is not "attacking". The piece continues in that vein.

After so many months and years of wanton Palestinian murder of Jews and the Israeli establishment demonising the Jews of Judea and Samaria, and treating their plight with contempt, the Jerusalem Post is alarmed to hear and see slogans such as “Kahane was right.” The Post reduces hundreds of thousands of demonstrators to “tens of thousands”, and offers its readers a link to a blow-by-blow live feed of the aftermath. The latest entry there at time of writing was of arithmatically-challenged national shapeshifter extraordinaire Benny Gantz informing the 64-mandate majority government that:

A majority of Knesset members do not support passing the reasonableness standard bill without reaching a compromise. (My emphasis)

In the event, the 64 members of the elected government, 53% of the Knesset, voted unanimously to approve the measure. Since the remaining 47%, the opposition, including Gantz, boycotted the vote altogether, the law was passed unanimously, adding a further twist to the already bizarre postmodern definition of "minority" as "the group that does not have power."

Tempestuous theatricals aside, there is a serious principle at stake in Gantz's whinge at being denied a compromise. Right there we have the Talmud’s divided cloth parable in action, instigated by none other than the President of the State of Israel, Isaac Herzog, himself, when he proposed a “compromise” between those who had won and those who had lost. Has that not been the never-ending story of Israel: always snatching defeat from the jaws of victory? It is possible, just possible, that we might be witnessing something different this time. I need to digress a bit here to reach my point.

Many Israeli commentators describe the Supreme Court’s “reasonableness” artifice as “subjective.” To call the “reasonableness” trick subjective is both incorrect and to miss its point. It is not subjective since it is not derived from an individual’s personal perception or fancy. It is objective in that it has an aim independent of whoever is determining “reasonableness.” That aim becomes clear when set alongside its companion provision that has not received that much attention: everyone and anyone may petition the Court on anything. The latter, in my opinion, is the more pernicious of the two, as it sets up an alternative Knesset to the official institution that the “reasonableness” con cancels. These two measures must be seen together, not only because they work in tandem, but because they mutually distract attention from each other. Together, they disempower the government, disenfranchise the citizen and empower whomsoever the Supreme Court chooses to empower. To get hung-up on the police favouring the Left-wing protesters is to miss the point.

Even in this extra-parliamentary bestowing of power, the Court is not subjective. It encourages those petitions that most assuredly undermine the legitimacy of the elected government, while blocking those that do the opposite. One hears the expression “judicial coup” bandied about by the same people who describe the “reasonableness” device as subjective. Coups are not subjective. They are objective actions with objective aims. Judicial coup based on subjectivity is a contradiction in terms and betrays a failure to rise above the messy details, a failure to make aliyah, one might say.

There is a further serious point to all this sorry business. The disenfranchisement of the citizen is achieved on a more fundamental level than the mere cancelling of his or her vote. The ultimate aim of these judges atop twin towers is to make it impossible for the citizen to tell the difference between legal and illegal, and that is the point. The law becomes arbitrary, and to avoid the risk of falling foul of it, the citizen would rather err on the side of caution and not act when he otherwise might have. The same aim applies in respect of the elected lawmakers. The Supreme Court successfully setting itself up as the sovereign authority in the land impels the government towards "pragmatic" laws that will not fall foul of the Supreme Court, in other words, to err on the side of caution. This makes the Israel Supreme Court a politburo, the very negation of democracy.

The Supreme Court’s “reasonableness” - “universal petitions” conceit achieves the same societal outcome as do “hate speech” and “Islamophobia.” They all aim to resign the citizens to arbitrary rule and the government to arbitrary oversight, politically paralysing them and laying the basis for rubber-stamp government and totalitarianism. Arbitrary rule is the basis of Islamic rule, Communist rule, Nazi rule, in fact, all fascist rule — and the best way to hide that objective is to claim that you are “defending democracy against dictatorship.”

The positive side to this whole affair is just how strong Israeli democracy remains. Nowhere where “Islamophobia” and “hate speech” artifices are being imposed, are there mainstream politicians, not to mention whole political parties, let alone entire sections of the population large enough to actually win elections, who oppose it. The “tens of thousands” of people out on the streets of Tel Aviv on Sunday night encouraging their government to push ahead and complete the democratic restoration they specifically elected them to bring about, together with their patient and long-suffering communities in Judea and Samaria, are the people who should have been on the front pages and television screens over the past nine months, the nation’s finest, exemplars to us all. Instead, we were treated to a continuous barrage of their embarrassing counterpoints throwing tantrums, blocking traffic, disrupting the Knesset and petitioning foreign companies and governments to destroy their own hard-won state.

The story and struggle of the Jews of Judea and Samaria, modest accomplishment upon modest accomplishment, is not only an allegory of the Zionist pioneers, their Hadar and their resilience, but a continuation of it, fighting hard to keep what is left of the cloth safe from judges Hellbent on taking it all away from them, half after half after half… These people are the heroes, and it is in their all-too-rare, and lawful, demonstration that the Jerusalem Post sets out to find mayhem, death and destruction.

And as they all make their way back to their homes in their unsafe heartland, dodging Palestinian stones along the highways, perhaps someone would be kind enough to remind the President of what elections are and what 64 - 0 means. Meanwhile, in the wake of their second stunning defeat in a row, the hardcore leadership of the past nine months' chaos, in a move reminiscent of "All power to the Soviets!" are urging Israelis, "We must create drama! Public. Enough talk! Actions!!” and by the time it was all over, Benny Gantz had shape-shifted yet again, this time into a latter-day prophet, intoning, "Everything approved here will be canceled and erased from the book of laws, sooner or later." Do prophets have tired, defeated eyes? I don't know. I've never seen one.

Picture credits:

Screenshot from unpublished Professors for a Strong Israel video, 23 July 2023

Screenshot from "Protests in Tel Aviv after parliament ratifies contested law," Reuters, YouTube, 24 July 2023

Yonatan Sindel / Flash 90

The quotation in the collage is the statement by the proud Mayor of Tel Aviv, on the occasion of his shotgun inauguration of "Democracy Square" traffic junction. According to David Israel, reporting in The Jewish Press:

On Monday morning, Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai ...renamed Azrieli junctions, the site of months of anti-judicial reform rallies at the corner of Kaplan Street and Ayalon Highway, “Democracy Square.” Except that Huldai approved the move through an expedited procedure in a municipal committee, without consulting with or even informing the members of the municipal council.

What's "Newspeak" in Hebrew?