In 2007, then-editor of Israel’s
far-left Haaretz newspaper David Landau implored
then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to “rape” Israel. Landau told Rice that Israel “wants to
be raped by the United States” into making territorial concessions to the
Landau’s statement, which was
widely reported at the time, was and remains shocking. But over the past
quarter-century, it has become common practice for the Israeli Left to turn to
foreign governments and other international actors for help subverting
democratic processes in Israel.
In 1977, Israel’s Left lost
its political majority forever when working-class Israelis abandoned it for the
political Right. Over the past 46 years, the Left has held power for a total of
just under 13 years.
To compensate for its loss of
political power, the Israeli Left expanded the power of Israel’s already
powerful bureaucracy, which its members controlled. Over the past 30 years,
using its control over the Supreme Court and
the attorney general’s office, the Left enacted a judicial revolution that
transformed the unelected justices into the most powerful arm of government,
with no checks on its power or accountability to the public. Through judicial
fiat, the justices and their allies in the attorney general’s office have
clipped the wings of Israel’s elected leaders, and made all policies and laws
dependent on their prior or retroactive approval.
As the years passed, more and more Israelis fell victim to the legal fraternity, which rules in accordance with its leftist values and political interests. And as more Israelis became aware of the problem, the issue of legal reform became increasingly salient in elections. In last November’s elections, the right-religious bloc won 64 seats to the Left and center-left’s 46. The central campaign issue of both sides was legal reform. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s ruling Likud party, and its three coalition partner parties all ran on platforms that laid out detailed plans for judicial and legal reform.
On the other hand, opposition
leader Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party and his partners on the political Left all
ran on platforms that rejected judicial and legal reform.
The election results
constituted the first real prospect that the legal fraternity’s unlimited
powers would be checked, and actual power restored to the government and
Knesset. The Left’s response to this turn of events has been unhinged from
reality, but disciplined. All elite groups in Israeli society have gathered as
one to warn of the impending destruction of democracy, the rise of fascism, the
collapse of minority rights, and the destruction of judicial independence. With
the lockstep participation of the media, the Left has gathered in mass protests
on successive Saturday nights. This week, hi-tech workers blocked traffic and
assaulted motorists, and several companies declared a one-hour strike.
Attorney General Gali Baharav
Miara is being urged to oust Netanyahu. Although she lacks the legal power to
do so, she and her colleagues are reportedly considering the move. And this
makes sense since the Supreme Court ruled January 18 that the head of one of
the coalition parties, and a senior minister in the Netanyahu government was
not allowed to serve as a cabinet minister and ordered Netanyahu to fire him.
The justices insisted it was
“extremely unreasonable” for Shas party leader Aryeh Deri to serve as a
government minister, because he was convicted of a minor tax violation and
accepted a fine and a suspended sentence in his plea deal. Aside from that,
they said, that Deri promised the judge at his sentencing that he would leave
The fact that neither of the
grounds had anything to do with the law didn’t bother the justices. So there is
reason to fear that Miara will similarly ignore the law and declare Netanyahu
unfit for office, despite her lack of legal authority. Miara was appointed by
the previous government and has made no effort to hide her intention to use her
power to block the government from passing its judicial reform package into
As Josh Hammer explained last week in Newsweek, there is
nothing anti-democratic about the reform package. Most Americans would be
stunned to discover that the checks the proposal envisions, such as political
control over judicial appointments and limits on the Court’s power to abrogate
laws, aren’t in place already.
But this isn’t about
democracy. It is about power. And in the game of power, nothing is off limits.
So in addition to blocking traffic, organizing big Saturday night rallies, and
holding one-hour work stoppages in woke hi-tech firms, the Left is reinstating
Landau’s effort to convince the international community to “rape” their own
Earlier this week, Landau’s
former paper Haaretz published an article titled, “Biden’s Passivity is a
Big Problem for Israeli Democracy.” The gist of the article argued that the
only democrats in Israel are on the Left. And the Biden administration must put
its thumbs on the scale against the government’s judicial reform plans so the
public and the government are intimidated into abandoning it. “Things need to
be said clearly in order to get people’s attention here,” Haaretz‘s
Amir Tibon insisted.
Haaretz is far
from alone. Last week, the fully mobilized media approached Maxim Rybnikov,
Standard and Poor’s chief analyst responsible for determining Israel’s credit
rating. They implored him to say that the planned judicial reforms will
undermine Israel’s credit rating. Rybnikov explained that the risks to Israel’s
credit emanated from sources that have nothing to do with the proposed judicial
reform. They have to do with the global economic downturn and the fact that 60%
of Israel’s international trade is with the U.S. and Europe, both of which are
headed into economic downturns.
But after four or five
follow-up questions pushing him to decry the government’s judicial reform
package, Rybnikov finally played some ball:
If, contrary to the previous
situation, the institutional system in Israel enters a consistent path of
weakening, including damage to the system of checks and balances, and political
power is concentrated too much in the hands of one person or one group, the
public debate will also be damaged and it will lead to fiscal policy being less
responsible —not just for one year, but become a feature of policymaking. All
these things could become a real rating risk.
In other words, Rybnikov said,
maybe, if a hundred things that aren’t part of the judicial reform proposal
happen, Israel’s credit rating might be at risk.
That was enough for the media
and its allies. They rushed into action. Two hundred and seventy “leading
economists” all said the judicial reforms are liable to harm Israel’s credit
ratings and tank the economy.
Wednesday, Netanyahu explained
that the Court’s outsize role is one of the major blocks on economic growth in
Israel. Netanyahu recalled that the Supreme Court delayed major infrastructure
programs that transformed Israel’s economy. It nearly blocked the development
of Israel’s natural gas industry that “has made Israel’s electricity prices
among the lowest in the world,” and made Israel energy-independent.
Back in 2007, Rice reportedly
shrugged off Landau’s request. The Biden administration would do well to follow
in her footsteps.
Caroline Glick, 27-1-2023