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Michel M.J. Shore

A letter to a friend outside of Israel – (How I perceive the recent election)

Dear friend,

To answer your short but profound, poignant question in respect to the recent election in Israel:

The current checks and balances in the Israeli government, due to the customary, Basic Laws, stand above ordinary laws (as custom, in law, even if not having been formally constitutionalized in nature). That is in respect to the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative and judicial branches. The Basic Laws are strong enough to keep democracy in check.

In addition, there is a very vocal and large, substantial, minority opposition in the Knesset. Minority oppositions have pulled out members of the ruling party into its ranks, thus changing, the Knesset status quo, equation. That was and remains in the hands of the very influential voting electorate, even between elections, which has had a final say in the very numerous elections of Israel’s past few years; that is due to a Knesset which had become inoperative, when significant controversy, within and without, made it such.

Therefore, even with some of the legislative and executive changes that might be enacted within the existing situation described above, the Judiciary, in Israel, cannot be stifled, as it remains independent with the Basic Laws in place.

The judges, (even if named to the Supreme Court and other Supervisory courts by governments, duly elected, as they are in many western countries, wherein the governments have much greater designating or nominating input than the advisory bodies which propose the names of the qualified candidates for selection, the judges, named,  are nevertheless independent in their judgments).  Even, if in certain areas by enacted legislation,  they are curtailed in their jurisdiction; consequentially, they state their positions in “obiters”, personal opinions. These “obiters”, often more moral than legislatively interpretative, have eventually, as witnessed, in democracies, become the enacted norms with the test of time.

We also know, as specified above, that the voice of the people of Israel cannot be stifled in combination with a free and very diverse press.

In the end, as Churchill, once surmised, in brief, “democracy may the worst of all systems but ” we muddle through in the end”.  I am much more optimistic than that, due to the vigilant institutions in place in Israel.

The industrial- commercial complex, in this very small world, cannot operate in isolation, by itself; this is especially cogent due the non-complacency of the Israeli people; this is addition to the ever-looming threat of Iran, its proxies, which don’t need prodding, Hezbollah and Hamas, nor the passive, even if not active, peace with the countries in Israel’s immediate midst.

If we add to the above mix, the Abraham Accords and their significance, we envisage more clearly, not only to the changing political and economic scene but long-sought historical hopes, which are now opening, strongly; yet, let us realize, their somewhat potential precariousness (if we realistically, recognize the geo-political factors at sway and in flux: allies, quickly changing in a religiously, political environment to which more than lip service has been paid at key times of crisis).

Thus, the doors to new opportunities require a need for a profound awareness and understanding of that which is not, as yet, evident to enthusiasts of these opportunities. That consists of the internal situations of the countries, parties to the Abraham Accords, in addition to a watching and reporting western world and U.S. relationship essentials, with their own set of consequences.

Israel, historically, understands how it has stood and could again stand alone at key, existential crisis junctures. That, is in addition, to a need for unity in Israel, both, for recognized, major existential challenges, and for others, to a degree, still unknown, such as Russia’s relationships in the Middle East ( in addition to its internal situation and its war with Ukraine) the very large current  influx of aliyah and rapidly, changing abrupt variables, looming, due to the world economic downturn.

So far, at the early outset, Israel is fortunate due to its industrial, commercial- military complex, innovation centers, and twinned areas of cooperation, both internationally and internally, with its substantial, internal, private investment, outside of government institutions, that more and more, want a say due to the watching world and thereby, there is also a recognition of potential repercussions on private investments outside of Israel.

In examining both the history of Benjamin Netanyahu from his U.N. Ambassador days to his years as a minister and head of government, his acute realism and awareness of the internal Israeli public and composition of the Knesset (to varying degrees of the need for the understanding of the diaspora, but to a most significant extent the important, significant potential consequences of the international front and the various governments on his political watch)  will bear consequence on his internal  and external deliberations and responses.

Israeli governments have realized, to greater and lesser degrees, as do most influential entities and individuals in Israel, that in moments of challenge, there is a need to view all of the above from the perspective of a wide- angle lens, both in space and time, as to the geo-political situation of the immediate region and the wider concentric circles that play out throughout the world. The ripple effect of major decisions with their consequences cannot be contained.

Yet, this is the last chance of a desired statesmanship on Netanyahu’s part, at a crucial stage in Israel’s history, both internally and externally, with the constant existential threat to its existence. In this, his final act, on the Israeli and world scene, an opportunity is presented with unlikely-matched adherents to a decision-making process for most significant consequences.

The influence that Ben Zion Netanyahu, the father of Benjamin Netanyahu, had on his son is significant, in the mind and very essence of Benjamin Netanyahu. That speaks to the existence and viability of the State of Israel in the long term, and even more so, with the hindsight of having had a history of almost seventy- five years of the modern State of Israel from which to examine all the variables, in order to understand, as much of the future as possible.

Thus, to reiterate to some extent, through current statements made by Benjamin Netanyahu and as read in his autobiography: Benjamin Netanyahu’s understanding, of the need to secure Israel for its future, exists just as much due to the unknowns, as to that which is known of the geo-political reality in which Israel finds itself, That historical reality, with its need for security, looms large, both in hindsight and in attempted foresight, when attempting to witness it from his perspective, of the almost seventy-five years of Israel’s existence

The political comprises that were put in place, also, by Benjamin Netanyahu, such as prisoner swaps, numerous, for one life, demonstrated that reality is very often different than theory, due to the paradoxes of life which infiltrate politics, integrally.

What must also always be had in mind is the spiritual intrinsic heritage, hope and integrated belief, entwined in the historical essence that has come to fruition in Israel.  An essence that made the existence of the modern State of Israel, a reality. It is for that reason that pessimism must not cloud the present political context. Beyond the words of Churchill as stated above, democracy is the watchword and hallmark of the State of Israel. It will see its way through and beyond.

I believe the recent nine essay series, I have written and which appear in the Times of Israel, “Zionism, Its Thinkers and Implementers” attempt to illustrate how even the numerous and various strands of Zionism, by which Israel has lived and does live its history, will by their very moral and evolving, practical, realistic essence bring forward a future light, not only to Israel but also to the world.

Thank you, dear friend for your question, which has given me pause to reflect.

About the Author
Michel M.J. Shore is a retired judge of the Federal Court of Canada and recently made a home in Israel. He is the writer of several published books and poetry collections.