Looking around, springtime edition: Greta Thunberg gets an honorary doctorate in theology?!; Insty on why it should be safe to be impopular; The lapdogification of the Likud

(a) Whatever doubts anyone would still have that environmentalism is a religion should be dispelled by the fact that the University of Helsinki just awarded an honorary doctorate in theology (!) to… yes, Saint Greta of the Great Mountain of Tuna (as Sarah Hoyt has been calling her).

(b) speaking of religions masquerading as ideologies — and trying to subvert established religions — Insty on his substack has thoughts on wokeism, religion, evolution, and liberty — and why the real litmus test of a free society should be whether it is safe to hold impopular views. Go read it all — selective quotes won’t do it justice.

(c) And what’s the deal with this bizarre idea of arresting Trump?!?

(d) In another article that needs to be read in full, Chaviv Rettig Gur lays out how the once raucous, freewheeling, and (ideologically) diverse Likud[*] has become almost totally transformed into an amen chorus for the man at the top — and indirectly, for the political and diplomatic pyromaniacs inside and outside the party who have the said man by the beitzim. (The lyrics of Metallica’s “Master of Puppets” could have been written about Netanyahu: in the original the master is the chemical drug [**]the man’s addiction makes him a puppet to, in Netanyahu’s case he paradoxically became a puppet because of his addiction to power and its trappings.)

Not for one thing or another, but I can see a degree of US-style “fauxversity” at work here: the Likud makes a big deal about how it is the party that gives “the second Israel” (read: Jews of non-European background) a voice (historically, that was one of the great merits of Begin) — but this phony diversity of ancestry masks a dreary homogeneity of opinions, where even senior people who dissent refrain from breaking ranks until (like David Bitan now, with his own corruption case against him) they have nothing to lose anymore.

(e) And in a related blog post, retired Hebrew U. law professor David Kretzmer lays out why the “constitutional revolution of [Chief Justice] Aharon Barak” (the bug-bear of the judicial reformers) actually began under his predecessor Moshe Landau, whom the reformers are now holding up in positive contrast. https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/the-constitutional-revolution-that-never-was/

Not being a constitutional law scholar myself but a somewhat informed layman, I can only observe that nature abhors a vacuum. Israel had and has no written constitution, and this created a legislative void that the Knesset starting filling only in the early 90s with the Basic Law: Human Rights and Dignity. In the meantime, the Supreme Court started filling the vacuum, and Aharon Barak only (depending on your point of view) said the quiet part out loud, or took things to the next level, when he declared “ha-kol shafit!” (freely: everything is open to judicial review).

[*] The name Likud (freely: bloc) refers to the party’s politically heterogenous origin as a merger, in several stages (at first “Gachal”, Hebrew acronym for Cherut-Liberal bloc) with centrist and independent liberal factions. (In Israel like historically in Europe, “Liberal” parties meant “pro-free market” combined with a respect for individual rights.)

[**] the phrase “chop your breakfast on a mirror” presumably refers to cocaine


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