This is a posting that calls for serious attention and broad sharing. It contains both information I have imparted before and information that is new – providing in combination a very important overview.
The Israeli government is under attack from within. At its core, the attack is not about judicial reform. That reform merely serves as a rationale for inciting protest and fomenting an anti-government uprising.
Our government – right-wing, nationalist, and embracing traditional Jewish values – is an anomaly in a progressive Western world. Those on the left here in Israel see it as antithetical to their universalist, primarily secular values. An elite informed by this leftist ideology controls major institutions – including much of the media, the legal system, labor unions, the hi-tech industry, medical establishments, and, yes, the military.
Key members of this elite, feeling threatened by the shift in cultural and political mores, are seeking a government that advances policies supporting their political perspective and their cultural values. Acting against the government in concert with left-wing politicians, their aim is to weaken and ultimately bring it down; many are determined to see Prime Minister Netanyahu gone.
There is power in words when repeated frequently and passionately. The PLO, via incessant repetition, has convinced many people that Israel is an apartheid state. It is ludicrous, but say it often enough and…
The left has adopted the same practice, utilizing buzz words that energize a certain segment of the populace. Primary among these is “democracy”: The government is destroying democracy. Go out to the street, wave your flag, block roads, make loud noises, so that democracy can be saved.
What balderdash! (It requires self-control to refrain from utilizing a stronger term.) But sure enough, there are people who buy into this. Going out on the street for such an ostensibly noble cause allows them to feel virtuous and empowered. They see themselves as part of something important.
And so, I emphasize: Regardless of the claims of those flag-toting demonstrators and their leaders, the issue here is NOT that the current government is destroying democracy! In point of fact, the left is exhibiting behavior that is undemocratic.
There are several factors important to consider:
 The street demonstrations are not spontaneous grass-roots events. They are planned, organized and choreographed, with instructions as to when to show up, where to go and what to do.
Providing the demonstrators with Israeli flags reinforces their sense of being loyal Israelis and conveys to bystanders the message that these demonstrators are truly standing with Israel. I would suggest that, in point of fact, they have illegitimately claimed for themselves the role of agents acting for Israel.
Huge funding is invested in these demonstrations. There is planning, purchase of tens of thousands of flags, PR, buses for bringing demonstrators to various locales. There is also anecdotal evidence that sometimes demonstrators are paid.
Understanding where the money is coming from is key to understanding the underlying purpose of the demonstrations.
Some substantial portion is believed to be from Ehud Barak, possibly channeled via non-profits. Gilead Sher, a long-time associate of Barak’s, has testified to the fact that Barak has been involved in funding of demonstrations.
A portion comes from left-wing organizations here in Israel. I mention specifically the Movement for Quality Government in Israel. According to Caroline Glick, “The Movement for Quality Government has worked for decades to subvert Israeli democracy.” What makes the situation more problematic is that the US State Department provides some funds to MQG.
And a portion of the funding comes from progressive organizations abroad, including, notably, the New Israel Fund. According to David Isaac writing in JNS, “NIF money helped to ignite the protests, funding the first major demonstration on Jan. 7 in Tel Aviv.”
NIF, which claims that it is “pro-democracy,” funds organizations that are working for a non-Jewish “state of all its citizens.”
 There is overt incitement associated with the protests, encouragement to head towards “war.“ I have already written about two of the major inciters. Both former prime ministers, who should hang their heads in shame but most clearly will not: Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert.
See what David Weinberg, a senior fellow at The Institute for National Security & Zionist Strategy, had to say about this on Friday (emphasis added):
“I cannot ignore…the unbridled confrontation, the inflammatory demagoguery, the violent warmongering – that has become standard and acceptable behavior for some of Israel’s once and supposed leaders.
“There are very specific people responsible for this degradation, with Ehud Barak taking first place in the ugly contest for the most hateful, most extreme, most seditious rabble-rouser of all.
“Former prime minister Ehud Barak appears at every anti-government protest rally and in every foreign television studio with preening self-confidence, sky-high arrogance, and the most untamed political language heard in this country in decades. He savages Prime Minister Netanyahu and anybody to the right of him as ‘dark and dangerous ultra-nationalists who are undermining the foundations of Zionism and Israeli democracy.’
“…This year he has escalated his rhetoric to talk about the ‘shattering of Israeli democracy,’ the ‘darkest days Israel has known,’ ‘imminent dictatorship in Israel,’ and ‘silencing’ by the right wing…’
“WORST OF ALL, by far worst of all, is the lead role that Barak has taken in calling for subversion of the IDF through mass refusal-to-serve by Israeli soldiers and reserve duty officers…”
 Plans for an insurrection preceded plans for judicial reform. There is solid evidence that Barak was planning an uprising well before the government began working on judicial reform.
This puts the lie to claims that what is going on is about judicial reform.
 In the name of “saving Israeli democracy,” the left-wing mindfully brings damage to the country.
Weinberg tells us that “Barak began barking about the need to refuse to serve in the IDF ‘under dictatorship’ at a February Haaretz conference. ‘When a black flag of extreme illegality flies over an army order, it is not just the right of a soldier to obey that order, it is his obligation,’ said Barak.” (The “Black Flag” movement is an anti-Bibi protest movement spurred by Barak.)
In July, Nadav Argaman, the former head of the Shabak, declared that the soldier’s oath to obey orders no longer applies because of the judicial reform legislation. A shocker, I think.
The IDF is and must remain sacrosanct! Loyalty to the armed forces that protect Israel transcends political orientation. Soldiers have a moral obligation to serve, lest the country be weakened.
At present Israel is “combat-ready” and I am not suggesting otherwise. But actions that might undermine that combat-readiness are part of the protest movement.
There are threats by persons of note on the left who predict a fiscal decline for Israel. There is no reason why the cancelling of the reasonableness clause would create fiscal problems. But when predictions are made regarding this, and there are calls on the left for the withdrawal of international investment funds from Israeli projects, it generates lack of confidence. And then fiscal decline can ensue.
Similarly, people disgruntled by the current situation are being encouraged to just leave the country. This increases the possibility of a brain-drain/reduction in the number of people who provide important skilled services: if large numbers of hi-tech people or doctors were to leave, this would have the potential to cause a problem for Israel. Again, Israel is not currently dealing with a significant exodus (and I suspect a good deal of this will just be talk), but the protest movement is ready to promote this.
This is in addition to deliberately inconveniencing the public by blocking roads and limiting access to the airport and to trains. The closure of major retail malls (by mall owners who are part of that left-wing elite) prevented people from doing shopping and interfered with the livelihood of store owners.
More serious was the partial strike of doctors. This was an abrogation of the obligation of doctors to tend to their patients – an obligation spelled out in the Israeli Physicians Oath.
Over Tisha B’Av, there were several articles about the expulsion from Gush Katif, which took place immediately after Tisha B’Av in 2005. This was an horrendous government action that required tearing Jews from their homes.
The point was made in many of these articles, that the right-wing, which was adamantly opposed, did not behave as the left-wing is behaving now. There were demonstrations, but they did not bring massive inconvenience to the general public, and the right-wing had no desire to weaken the country.
I recommend an excellent article on this subject by Jerome M. Marcus. He says: “the left and the right don’t play by the same rules.” And indeed, he is correct.
A brief review of the situation with judicial reform:
 It is not true that the government has been implacable regarding judicial reform – that members of the coalition pushed through legislation with undue haste and would consider no compromise.
The final version of the legislation that has just been passed, voiding the right of the Court to invoke the reasonableness clause in specific cases, is not the same as what was first brought forward by the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee. Changes were made to soften the legislation, as the prime minister explained. Those changes were made unilaterally by the coalition, in hope of rendering the legislation more acceptable to the opposition.
When it became clear in late March that the opposition remained strongly opposed, Prime Minister Netanyahu stopped the discussion on the legislation and agreed to negotiations at the President’s house. By July, when there had been no compromise, Netanyahu then declared that legislation would move ahead, as it had been put forward in its last draft. Until the very end, there was talk of modifying the legislation further before a final vote was taken; but the opposition did not cooperate.
There is, then, solid reason to believe that cooperation with the government is not a goal of the opposition. Rather than reaching an amicable compromise, it seeks to continue to be obstructionist.
The Knesset is now in recess. Netanyahu has said there will be no further legislation brought forward until the winter session, giving time for compromises to be negotiated in the interim. If necessary, he said, he would delay legislation until November.
Now Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) has demanded a halt on judicial reform legislation for 18 months as a pre-condition for negotiations. Eighteen months is a joke, and Lapid is a clown.
 Two prominent members of the opposition, MK Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) and MK Gideon Sa’ar (National Unity), were on record as being for a change in the reasonableness clause before the last election. Their positions, which they reversed, were almost identical to the current legislation that just passed. Clear evidence, then, that this is not about judicial reform, but opposition to the government.
 The legislation does not change how the Court has operated since Israel’s founding. This is a falsehood that is being floated. In fact, the judicial reform seeks to restore the situation that existed for 50 years before Court President Aharon Barak unilaterally made radical changes in Court procedures.
 The legislation does not weaken Israel’s democracy, it strengthens it. The government is elected by the people, the Court is self-selected, without input from the electorate. Preventing the Court from excessively over-ruling government decisions on a subjective basis increases democracy.
Israel has the most active Court of any Western democracy. Judicial reform aims at bringing our Court in line with how the Courts of these other democracies operate.
No sooner was the legislation on the reasonableness clause passed on July 24, then several parties – including the Movement for Quality Government – petitioned the Court to overturn the legislation. Justice David Mintz, said to be the most conservative of the justices, declined to invoke an injunction, putting a hold on the legislation until the petitions could be heard.
Now Court President Esther Hayut has announced that Court hearings on the petitions will begin on September 12. In an unprecedented move, she is convening the full Court of 15 justices.
In my last posting I listed several reasons why the Court might not over-turn this legislation, including the fact that it would be a conflict of interest and that Court intervention might call attention to the fact that it intervenes excessively (which is precisely what the judicial reform legislation is addressing).
But there is another reason, which is the most significant of all: The legislation is an amendment to Basic Law. The Count has never intervened in Basic Law, which it considers a quasi-constitution, and has, in fact, suggested in at least one ruling that such intervention might be inappropriate.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has refused to state unequivocally whether he would abide by a Court decision to overturn the Reasonableness law. In an interview with NBC, he said (emphasis added):
“I think we’ll have to follow two rules: One is, Israeli governments abide by the decisions of the Supreme Court. And at the same time, the Supreme Court respects the Basic Laws, which are the closest thing we have to a constitution. I think we should keep both principles, and I hope we do…
“…I hope that they don’t strike down, because I think we should abide by BOTH rules.
“It would be in American terms, as though the Supreme Court that is charged with keeping the constitution would nullify a constitutional amendment as unconstitutional. So it sort of turns on itself and doesn’t make sense. I hope it doesn’t happen.”
Netanyahu also said: “There won’t be civil war, I guarantee you that.” From his mouth directly to Heaven.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.