Israel is teetering on the edge of a societal chasm that could well herald the end of the era of democratic rule in that nation.
The Blatantly Absurd
Recently, the streets of Israel have been inundated with hordes of copiously (and somewhat surreptitiously) funded demonstrators, purportedly opposing a duly elected government initiative for a direly needed legal reform to curb the unbridled power of the judiciary.
Lamentably, if they succeed, democratic rule will have succumbed to — and been superseded by — mob rule, in which a highly motivated and abundantly financed minority can impose its will on the elected majority — compelling it to abandon a policy it pledged to implement.
In this regard, the accumulating signs of the government buckling under the relentless pressure of the raucous and unruly street demonstrations are profoundly perturbing.
There are at least two remarkable aspects of the ongoing protests:
- One is just how manifestly ludicrous their professed motivation is.
- The other is how astonishingly effective their well-oiled campaign has been in hoodwinking well-off, well-educated echelons in Israeli society.
The alleged motivation for the protests was the defense of democracy from descent into dictatorship. Yet, the demonstrators have yet to present a persuasive causal chain linking the proposed changes in the judicial system to the demise of Israeli democracy.
Indeed, it is highly unlikely that they could.
After all, it is plainly absurd to claim that a system, in which a dozen or so unelected officials, with no accountability to the public, have the ultimate authority on matters of vital importance, is more democratic than one, in which that authority is vested in the hands of over five dozens elected parliamentarians, regularly answerable to the public.
"Democracy is Dictatorship": Decent Into Dystopia?
So, are the opponents of judicial reforms claiming that, if the reforms are implemented, Israel will metamorphize into a "dictatorial democracy" . . . or is that "democratic dictatorship"?
Disturbingly, the opposition's calculated abuse of language is strongly reminiscent of the abuse of language chillingly depicted in Orwell's dystopian novel, "1984."
In it, the totalitarian regime — aka "Big Brother, imposed the use of a contrived language, NewSpeak, "designed to diminish the range of thought."
Typical of the elements employed in NewSpeak is the juxtaposition of diametric opposites as in the official motto of the totalitarian regime:
"War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength."
In similar vein, the promoters of the anti-reform protests are in effect asserting that "democracy is dictatorship," when decisions are shifted to accountable democratically elected forums from unaccountable, unelected ones.
Thus, the opponents of the judicial reforms are in the Opposition, their modus operandi imposes a dystopian aura on the dispute over those reforms, in which truth is cast to the wind
Brazen, Blatant Hypocrisy Extant
Of course, the claim that the implementation of the proposed judicial reforms will imperil Israeli democracy is clearly the pinnacle of hypocrisy.
After all, those who today vociferously oppose the reforms, previously endorsed precisely the same measures.
Arguably, the most brazen, blatant display of barefaced double standards behind the anti-reform demonstrators is that of Opposition leader, Yair Lapid. On Feb. 27, 2023, during a plenary debate on judicial reform, Lapid railed, "Stop this insane legislation."
However, in a 2016 address Kohelet to Policy Forum, to the organization that played a pivotal role in the formulation of the proposed judicial reforms, Lapid laid out his views on the legal system, which mirrored almost identical measures to those in reforms put forward by today's coalition:
"It’s not right in my mind that the separation of powers, the sacrosanct foundation of the democratic method, should be breached by one branch of government placing itself above the others."
No Accommodation Is Possible
From the foregoing analysis, one thing should be depressingly clear:
There can be no consensual resolution to the ongoing clash — because the clash itself is not only contrived, but is, in fact, the objective of the demonstrators — rather than a means to achieve an end.
Paradoxically, there can be no consensual resolution to the dispute because there is no real substantive difference on the issues in dispute — as evidenced by the prior support for the reforms by those who now oppose it — see for example here, here, here, here
and again here.
This absence of real substantive differences is underscored by the fact that, although opponents of the reform almost uniformly concede that the judicial system does need some form of overhaul, they assiduously refrain from stipulating what measures they have in mind — thus averting any chance of comparing what the differences are between their proposals and that of the current coalition.
Democratic Rule Replaced Versus Mob Rule
It should thus be clear that the ongoing dispute, allegedly about a substantive difference of opinion, is nothing but a façade, a stage prop in a visceral fight for control of the reins of power, in which there is no place for any rational debate. Nothing will be acceptable other than abject surrender. (For greater detail, please go here)
This is why the government must not, indeed cannot, back away from the reform proposal.
For if does, there will be no point in any elections in the future.
Indeed, every time the elected government decides on something of which the opposition disapproves, they will take to the street until it yields to opposition demands — and democratic rule will have been replaced by mob rule.
(A related story may be found here.)
Dr. Martin Sherman is the founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies. He previously served for seven years in operational capacities in Israel's intelligence community. Dr. Sherman has lectured at Tel Aviv University on sbjects inclusive of: Political Science, International Relations and Strategic Studies. He is the author of two books as well as numerous articles and policy papers on a wide range of issues. Read Martin Sherman's Reports — More Here.
© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.