A Ship of Fools

“Israelis turned out in the tens of thousands to rally on Saturday evening against a contentious government plan to overhaul the judiciary. This is the 18th consecutive weekend of such protests.”[I24 News, May 06, 2023 ]

Proponents of the judicial reforms claim they are necessary to rebalance power between the branches of government. Critics say they pose a threat to democracy.

“The proposed overhaul saw Israel plunge into one of the worst domestic crises, ripping open long simmering societal rifts.”The talks underway, meant to forge a path out of the impasse” did not appear to have produced any tangible results.

Enter President Isaac Herzog as a mediator, hardly an unbiased individual for the given task. Way back on February 23, 2016, The American Prospect published, “Isaac Herzog: The Man With Small Answers” by Gershom Gorenberg.

“The leader of Israel’s Labor Party says he has the solution for the deadlock. But he’s really part of the problem.”

Gorenberg is of the opinion that Herzog was chosen as Labor’s leader in one of its periodic self-destructive bouts of returning power to the gray spirited apparatchiks. What should we say for today? The man originated from a respected intellectual background.

His grandfather was Israel’s 2nd Chief Rabbi [Yitzchak haLevi Herzog], during the years 1936-1959. His uncle, Yaakov Herzog was offered the position of Chief Rabbi of the British Commonwealth and at the same time as an Ambassador for the State of Israel, selecting the latter. He is highly regarded for a famous debate with Professor Arnold Toynbee in Montreal on January, 1961.His father, Chaim Herzog, was Israel’s President during the years 1983-1993.

According to Gorenberg, at the time when Isaac Herzog was the nominal and ineffectual leader of the Israeli opposition, he found what he believed to be a platform for challenging Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; despair of reaching a two-state agreement in the foreseeable future.

“The main lesson of this exercise, is that despair is not an inspiring political message. But then, Herzog has never been accused of being an inspiring politician. Despair does not provide a reason to act; it is an excuse for failing to do so.”

Writing in Israel National News of April 30, 2023, Dr.Joseph Frager, MD, categorically states that “Numbers Matter.”In this, he clearly has in mind the medias assessment of public gatherings, specifically those of a political nature.

Accordingly, he informs us that judicial reform in Israel is not an option, but a necessity.”The Left knows [a] Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was the democratically elected leader of the State of Israel and [b], Judicial Reform was primary in his campaign themes.

On the other hand, the Left’s main goal is to bring down Netanyahu and his coalition. Leftism has become a powerful warrior in today’s world. As for the war against Netanyahu by ignoramuses and pervades of hatred, they will find themselves in outfield shortly.

What is not apparent to them is that Israel’s Supreme Court is not at all like America’s Supreme Court. The latter has “significant input from the electorate via elected officials.” Israel has none. “It is an “Old Boys Network”, which is self-appointed.

Speaking of numbers, a million Israelis came out to illustrate and confirm this point on April 27, 2023.

The demographics of Israel are changing and the Leftists cannot get used to the fact. The Right continues to win elections in Israel. The numbers speak volumes.

” The Left needs to come to grips with this reality.”

For the dissenters, they appear to be categorized. Clearly there are those who would like to see Netanyahu step aside and for whom the nature of Israel’s democracy is not consequential. Within this group are sub-groups.  Those who find having a leader whose conduct is legally questionable. And those who feel his treatment towards his peers is unacceptable. The intellectual, Victor Davis Hanson, when discussing Donald Trump, once said that one should not judge him on his rhetoric, but rather on his accomplishments. Obviously the same applies to Netanyahu.

For those who regard national government a serious matter, as a citizen should do, many books are available on the key figure who was engaged in a vital era of modern day Israel. Not least of which was Netanyahu’s, “Bibi, My Story”.

To begin with, Fathom has published a book review on Netanyahu’s autobiography by Yisrael Medad. An interesting insert is his reference to what he terms the most surprising reaction to Netanyahu’s book by Haaretz’s Gideon Levy. Extreme non-Zionist occupationist Levy, writing on December 5,2022, portrayed Netanyahu as Israel’s “last hope”, adding:

“After reading Netanyahu’s articulate and fascinating autobiography, Bibi: My Story, it’s still possible to cling to the vestiges of the belief that perhaps there is another Bibi—-Netanyahu is the last barrier, the last fortress, standing between loathsome, Jewish fundamentalist racism and an ordinary apartheid state. Never before has so much depended on so little, on one person so hated and so loved.”

Medad remarks that an autobiography is supposed to present one’s history and major events. And Netanyahu does it well, very well. He is very well aware that he has been an object of fawning admiration and of hate and derision for over three decades.

“The Prime Minister’s official residence in Jerusalem, as well as those of his neighbors, were literally under weekly siege by movement activists, attacking the ‘Crime Minister’, a reference to Netanyahu’s various trials. And yet, as Levy notes in the given column, Netanyahu isn’t only Satan from the stories, he is also a statesman  on whom we may pin a last, slim, but not impossible hope.”

Anshel Pfeffer, has authored, “The Turbulent Life and Times of Benjamin  Netanyahu.” This 423 page biography was timed to be on sale prior to the given election. Family background and tribal politics are two of the main strands of his story. If there is a master key to cracking the Bibi Code, this insightful and readable book argues, it is his identity as someone who has always stood outside the mainstream.

Netanyahu, in this view, has always seen the Palestinian issue as a diversion—a ‘rabbit hole’ that misinformed Westerners insist on going down. Terrorism and unchanging Arab and Muslim hostility were and remain his preferred emphases. In recent years, his ‘primary obsession’ has been the danger from Iran, whose plans to acquire nuclear weapons [and break Israel’s regional monopoly on them] he says threaten a new Holocaust.

By way of understanding Prime Minister Netanyahu, an introduction by BESA’s Dr Gil Samsonov on August 18, 2019 under the title, “Netanyahu: More a Jabotinsky  than a Begin or a Ben Gurion” is of interest:

“In favoring the political over the military approach, Benjamin Netanyahu is the direct successor of Ze’ev Jabotinsky, who espoused the political Zionism of forging an alliance  with a world power. Netanyahu’s outlook is evident in his conflict management strategy vis-à-vis the PLO, Hamas and Hezbollah, while focusing on fighting Israel’s foremost enemy, Iran.”

Nowadays, Iran’s agent in Gaza is, of course, Islamic Jihad.

For those protestors to gain a comprehension of Israel’s dysfunctional democracy, “Israel’s Imperious Judiciary “published by Mosaic on December4, 2014 and authored by Moshe Koppel, serves the purpose admirably.

About the Author
Alex Rose was born in South Africa in 1935 and lived there until departing for the US in 1977 where he spent 26 years. He is an engineering consultant. For 18 years he was employed by Westinghouse until age 60 whereupon he became self-employed. He was also formerly on the Executive of Americans for a Safe Israel and a founding member of CAMERA, New York (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America and today one of the largest media monitoring organizations concerned with accuracy and balanced reporting on Israel). In 2003 he and his wife made Aliyah to Israel and presently reside in Ashkelon.