Netanyahu losing staunch supporters over Supreme Court castr… er, “reform”

Even Trump’s ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, is now breaking ranks with Bibi.

During an on-stage interview at a confab organized by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations last week, Friedman — who is one of Netanyahu’s most ardent backers in the Republican party — took particular issue with the coalition’s legislative effort to allow the Knesset to override decisions made by the Supreme Court. “That to me is offensive to my idea of how courts should work,” he said.

Friedman went even further in his criticism during a private session held at another conference organized by a pair of conservative think tanks last week.

[…] “You compare this to the US, but it doesn’t work like that in our system,” he told [“reform” proponent Simcha] Rothman [MK, chair of the Knesset’s Judicial Committee] to applause from dozens in the room.

Friedman said that in the US, the courts exist to protect minority rights, and an override clause would prevent Israeli courts from doing the same.

A member of the audience told Axios that Rothman looked embarrassed when Friedman finished speaking.

The former ambassador confirmed the Axios report later Wednesday but told The Times of Israel his concerns were made “respectfully” and were part of an “attempt to find common ground.”

“The tone of the conversation was not about slamming or being critical or pointing fingers, rather recognizing that this is a complicated issue,” he said.

Meanwhile, the BS is flying so fast and furious out of Bibi’s mouth, I can’t keep up. The other day, he was claiming that those protesting were the same as the COVID vaccination opponents. By the law of large numbers, there were probably a handful of people who fit the bill, like I can probably find a handful of Bibi supporters who attend wife-swapping parties — the fallacy lies in claiming these cherry-picked subsamples are representative. Most of the demonstrators I know personally were among the first to line up for their shots.

Now he’s claiming moral equivalence between the protests and the extremists going on a rampage in the Arab town of Huwara. Oh puh-leeze.

What mystifies both Times of Israel editor David Horowitz (no relation to his American namesake[*]) and myself is why nobody in the Likud is standing up to Bibi — as he sells out his own party, and the country, to the extremists who have him by the beitzim.

Yesterday night, however, the Jerusalem Post reported about a letter calling for compromise talks to be held at president Herzog’s residence, signed by two Likud MKs — former ambassador to the UN Danny Danon and former Health Minister Yuli Edelstein — and two MKs from Benny Gantz’s National Unity, former IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot [**] and former Culture and Sports minister Yechiel “Chili” Tropper.

An older colleague, like myself somebody who believes some reform is inevitable but that the extremist castr… er, “reform” package being pushed is a cure worse than the disease, actually made an interesting out-of-the-box suggestion: that President Herzog issue a pre-emptive pardon for Netanyahu in his corruption trials, thus vacating them. Distasteful as seeing him go scot-free for what at best looks like sleaze and at worst is outright corruption is to both of us, such a move would make Netanyahu much less beholden to coalition partners ramming through policies that Netanyahu himself historically was opposed to. There is even precedent for a pre-emptive pardon here, as when in the mid-1980s Yitzchak Herzog’s own father — then-president Chaim Herzog — pre-emptively pardoned the then-Shin Bet chief Avraham Shalom for unspecified transgressions in the Bus 300 Affair, in exchange for Shalom’s resignation.[***]

I was witness to more demonstration scenes. This long ago ceased to be a thing of the left: it has become a broad-based protest movement of all except the far right.

ADDENDUM: 120 academics sign a letter in favor of the judicial reform

I know a number of the signatories personally: mostly “the usual suspects” of any far-right initiative. (One conspicuous absence was that of Arabist Dr. Mordechai Kedar, chair of Professors for a Strong Israel and often quoted on these pages.) Those who read Hebrew can see the list here. HOWEVER: even the most high-profile signatory —- Prof. Israel (Robert) Aumann, Nobel Laureate in Economics for his work on game theory —- only supports certain parts of the reform (the judicial appointment committee) while he opposes others (the 61-vote override). He also stated it would be preferable for the reform to be achieved through dialogue and consensus, though he deems it essential enough that it should proceed anyway.

One of my mentors snarked today: “OK, Bibi has his punishment: he’s married to Sara. But what have we done to deserve her running the country by proxy?”

[*] The common Ashkenazi surnames Horowitz, Hurwitz,… and Russified variants such as Gurevich all derive from the town of Horovice in today’s Czech republic.

[**] The weird pseudo-Ashkenazi “Eisenkot”, which would literally mean “iron droppings” in German, is actually a corruption of the Moroccan Berber language Azencot, meaning “deer” (as in the Tribe of Naftali: cf. the Ashkenazi surnames “Hirsch” and “Hersh”).

[***] This incident concerns a 1984 bus hijacking by four Palestinian terrorists. The police and the Shin Bet [our domestic security agency] together freed the passengers, and supposedly the hijackers had been killed in the operation. However, the meanwhile-defunct Israeli newspaper Chadashot [“News”] published a picture of one of them being led off the bus alive and alert — it later emerged that two of the four hijackers had survived, then had been extrajudicially executed — the Shin Bet director allegedly had either ordered this himself or had been complicit in the “let’s give them what they deserve” decision. Israel has no death penalty on the books for any crime other than WW II-era participation in the Shoah, and only one judicial execution (Adolf Eichmann y”sh) has ever been carried out here. (A controversial law proposal to extend the death penalty to terrorists that has been introduced in the Knesset. My gut sympathized with it, my head tells me otherwise.)

One thought on “Netanyahu losing staunch supporters over Supreme Court castr… er, “reform”

  1. Your problems with the Death Penalty in Israeli Law shows wisdom that came late to Canadian Law. I suspect that the harsh reality, the Cognitive Gagging, resulting from the proven wrongful conviction of folks that resulted from Crown Prosecutors NOT doing their sworn duty to see Justice done!
    The mental questions asked: how many wrongful Executions has Canada performed? Quickly became vocalized.

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