From Israel: “A Time of Anguish!!”

Israel will get through this, I hasten to assure my readers. Through this, past it, and I pray, stronger than ever.

Credit: myJewishlearning

But that is hardly to minimize what is happening now.  I would be lying if I denied my heart was aching, even as I am greatly relieved.


Sunday evening, as the first bill of the projected judicial reform was being debated in the Knesset, 200,000 right-wing Israelis gathered in Tel Aviv to voice support for the actions of the government. It was a welcome sight, as focus has been so much on what the left was doing in protest.

Then on Monday afternoon, after all of the tensions and suspense and accusations, that bill – on the Reasonableness Clause – passed its second and third readings in the Knesset by a vote of 64 to 0; the entire coalition voted in favor and the opposition boycotted the vote.  It is now law.

Until the last moment there were rumors of last-minute compromises to soften the bill that might take place.  None did. The version that was passed was the one that had been approved in committee.

An unofficial translation of the Hebrew bill, which is Amendment #4 to the Basic Law: Judiciary:

In the Basic Law: The Judiciary, in Section 15, after subsection (d) shall come:

“(d1) Notwithstanding what is stated in this Basic Law, whoever has judicial authority according to law, including the Supreme Court sitting as the High Court of Justice, shall not rule on the reasonableness of a decision of the Government, of the Prime Minister or any other Minister, and shall not issue an order on such matter. In this section, “decision” –every decision, including matters of appointments or a decision to refrain from the exercise of said judicial authority.”


It was MK Simcha Rothman (RZ), chair of the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, who shepherded this legislation through its long and tortuous process, which included dealing with almost 28,000 reservations (most simply ludicrous and without any serious intent) submitted by the opposition as a stalling tactic.  The man has extraordinary patience, born of his Zionist convictions, and nerves of steel.

MK Rothman made a statement in the Knesset regarding the legal basis for this bill, immediately prior to the vote.  If I can secure an English translation, I will run it.

Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

I see Justice Minister Yariv Levin (Likud) and Itamar Ben Gvir (chair, Otzma Yehudit) as heroes of the day as well because of their staunch determination to see the legislation passed without last-minute caving in the face of threats.

Recognition must go, as well, to Prime Minister Netanyahu, who hesitated, was rumored to be backing off in the face of potential political consequences for the nation, but in the end held fast.  Before the vote, President Herzog went to meet with Netanyahu and we don’t know what transpired in that meeting. It may be that Netanyahu was resolute because of threats by Ben Gvir to quit the coalition, which would have brought the government down.  Or because, in spite of his desire to strike a last-minute compromise, the opposition was totally uncooperative. Whatever the determining factors, Bibi supported the process and comported himself well after the vote (more on this below).

Here you see Ben Gvir to Netanyahu’s right, and Levin to his left.

Credit: Menahem Kahana/AFP


While the voting was proceeding in the Knesset, those in opposition were out there in large numbers, carrying on. As expected, the demonstrations were even more raucous after the bill passed, especially in Tel Aviv.  

The protest has been carried on in a manner that is unacceptable in several regards – in addition to the blocking of roads and the airport and preventing smooth operation of the railroads – and has caused difficulties of varying degrees to the general populace.   

Some of the major malls and retail chains were shut down for a day by their owners, interfering with the ability of ordinary citizens to do shopping.  Most prominent among these was BIG, which runs malls in several locations across the country. This action interfered with the livelihoods of individual store owners; in some instances when shop owners attempted to keep their stores open, electricity was shut off for the entire mall.


There was a medical strike on Tuesday as well, affecting certain clinics and hospitals (not in Jerusalem).  In these cases, only emergency patients were attended to.  I believe that every doctor who participates should hang his head in shame, as this political action is a violation of a basic medical ethic to attend to patients.  

That strike was terminated mid-day yesterday by a Labor Court at the request of the Health Ministry.

It’s important to make it clear here: in both these above instances, with regard to retail stores being closed and medical services being curtailed – not everyone was on board.  That a medical group or hospital made this political decision does not by any means indicate that all or even most doctors were in sympathy with it.  

There are serious questions to be raised here regarding who is in charge and who has authority to impose political decisions that impact the public.


There are threats of fiscal damage to the country but in my take any assessment on this is premature. The value of the shekel can drop, the stock market can go down, credit rating can be reduced, etc., and it may prove to be an immediate response to the turmoil that will self-correct quickly.

Fiscally, Israel is very strong, and keeping her strong means not panicking.  Panicking can generate a self-fulfilling prophecy.


Most concerning is the threat of reserve officers to refuse to serve when called up.  This is a totally unacceptable politicization of the military.  As I have indicated in previous posts, there is reason to believe that the number refusing will be much smaller than we are being led to believe.  I strongly believe harsh penalties should be levied against anyone who refuses to serve.  

Indications are that the military is combat ready and has not been compromised by these threats.


Monday night, following the vote, Prime Minster Netanyahu addressed the nation.  You can see the full text of his comments here:


Major points (emphasis added):

“Today, we carried out a necessary democratic step, one designed to restore a measure of balance between the authorities, what we had here for 50 years. We passed the amendment to the reasonableness standard so that the elected government will be able to lead policy according to the will of the majority of the citizens of the state.

In no way is carrying out the will of the voter ‘the end of democracy.’ It is the essence of democracy. Due to the importance of the issue, the coalition worked throughout to reach consensus with the opposition. This was not a given

“…we agreed to halt the legislation; we stopped it for three continuous months. We agreed to significant changes to the original policy.

“I say with regret: None of our compromise proposals were accepted, not one. Even in the plenum today, as the voting was underway, until the last moment, we tried to reach agreement, but the other side consistently refused. I remind you that until recently, senior opposition figures supported changing the reasonableness standard. Others even agreed to cancel it altogether.

“But even if there was no agreement on the measured amendment that was submitted, in no way did this justify disrupting the lives of – and causing suffering to – millions of citizens who were unable to get to work, the hospital or the airport due to blocked highways, delayed ambulances, fires, and blocking Ben-Gurion International Airport.

“And despite everything my friends, we continued to strive for dialogue and to reach agreement. We are not giving up on the chance of reaching broad agreement

“Already in the coming days, the coalition will turn to the opposition in order to advance a dialogue between us. We are prepared to discuss everything, immediately, and do so in the round of talks during the Knesset recess and reach a comprehensive agreement on everything and we will add more time should it be needed, until the end of November. That is more than enough time to reach agreement on everything.”

GPO/YouTube Screenshot

Yariv Levin has already said he wants to address legislation to change the makeup of the committee to select justices next – a matter of much importance.  This, I guarantee, will be even more contentious than the reasonableness legislation.

Levin, as Justice Minister, has the legal authority to convene that committee, which he has declined to do with its current configuration.  Yair Lapid is demanding he do so.


The prime minister must reach for conciliation. It is the proper stance.  But I have slight to no expectation that the opposition will meet with the coalition during the recess to reach agreements.  They have already demonstrated their reluctance. And the statements of opposition leaders are not conciliatory.   Lapid claims there is “no one to talk to,” which simply is not so.


As I write, at least three petitions have been submitted to the High Court asking that it invalidate the reasonableness legislation.  I will not here belabor the various legal premises on which these petitions have been based.  If anything comes of this (hopefully not!!), there is time examine the legalities.

While no one is certain what the Court will decide, there is a body of opinion that the Court will decide not to intervene.  There are several reasons:

[] It is a conflict of interest for the Court to rule on legislation that affects the Court.

[] Court intervention here would call attention to the fact that it intervenes excessively and inappropriately and thus requires legal restrictions on its ability to be involved.

[] There are other ways in which the Court is able to rule on administrative decisions without drawing on the reasonableness clause, and the Court may opt to just let this past.

We shall see…


It is exceedingly important to note that the legislation does not affect those who are striking in a significant way.  Read the law above and ask yourself whether this would have sufficient import on the lives of the populace to justify the sort of carrying-on and the threats that have taken place.

I have written about this before and will continue to do so, as I consider it of utmost importance that this be understood.

I said from early on that reform was being used by the left to incite portions of the population so as to weaken and ultimately take down the government.  They put out a call to save democracy, even as they were undermining it.

What I, and many others, wrote about this before the vote yesterday, is crystal clear now, after the vote.


See this video of an interview given by Ehud Olmert yesterday to a British TV station (emphasis added):

“There is a threat. It is a serious threat…It’s never happened before, and we are going into a civil war now.”  

He speaks of “a government which is perceived by a large part of the population to be illegitimate… Government has decided to threaten the foundations of Israeli democracy, and this is not something that we can accept or that we can tolerate.”


Credit: Marc Israel Sellem/Jpost

He doesn’t say the government made a serious mistake; he calls the government illegitimate – which provides the grounds for a civil war.  Illegitimate?  The Israeli electorate, in a perfectly legitimate election, awarded this government 64 mandates.

To bolster the incitement even further, he says the government has threatened the foundations of democracy.  Sure, send them out to the street screaming “democracy.”

This is NOT about the legislation that was approved yesterday.  


Similarly, we have unmistakable evidence of the desire by Ehud Barak to take down the government.

“Transportation Minister Miri Regev (Likud) has sent a letter to Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara, demanding that an investigation be opened against former Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Forum 555, on suspicion of “’criminal gathering, civil disobedience, and an attempted coup d’état.’

Credit: Israel Hayom

Regev refers to a video clip filmed three years ago.  In that clip, “former Prime Minister Ehud Barak was recorded detailing his plan in a Zoom conversation with a group of protest activists.” The plan included “inciting civil disobedience in an intentional fashion, falsely presenting a danger to democracy with funding and investments totaling millions of shekels, leading to the point of no return – a civil war – as he begs them to create clashes with the police, saying, ‘The more clashes there are with the police, the more it will grow stronger.'”


These two former prime ministers are beyond vile and should face stringent legal repercussions.  

It is important to broadly expose what they are about.

This context helps us understand why the opposition rejects compromise and how great is the significance of the vote on Monday as a stand against this and for rule of law.


I leave this discussion now – to be continued – as we head into Tisha B’Av.  May all have an easy and MEANINGFUL fast.

For heartfelt prayers for better days for Israel and unity of the people.


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.