David Lehrer

Don’t talk to me like I am an idiot

The members of the coalition government are probably not concerned about insulting me, a leftist who has never voted for any party in the coalition, nor ever will. Perhaps, however, continuing to insult the intelligence of half the population of Israel is not the best way to unite a people torn asunder by the worst political crises in Israel’s history.

I have not stood out on the road every Shabbat afternoon in protest of the judicial reform/overhaul because Ehud Barak or Ehud Olmert told me to do so. Hundreds of my friends are at Kaplan or other protests around the country every week, not at the urging of has been politicians or because the media or Tik Tok has brainwashed them.

We are out there protesting because we are intelligent enough to understand that cancelling the test of reasonableness in judicial review is just the first step in the coalition’s effort to make Israel less democratic. We understand that the weaking of judicial review of government decisions opens the door to corruption and discrimination, but we also understand that the plan is to continue to chip away at Israel’s democratic principles with additional laws which, in accumulation, threaten our civil rights.

Stop speaking to us as if we are idiots. The reservists who declare that they will stop volunteering for reserve duty are not staging a military coup.  A military coup is when a group of generals use military force to oust a legitimately elected government.  Reservists who declare that they will stop volunteering if the judicial reform/upheaval goes through are doing just the opposite. They are practicing a form of non-violent protest (not even civil disobedience since they are breaking no laws) by declaring that they will not voluntarily pick up arms to serve a non-democratic regime.

The coalition government is a legitimately elected government, with a majority in the Knesset and has every right to push forward the agenda on which it was elected.  When we went to vote on November 1, 2022, however, we were not voting on changing the democratic nature of our country.  While Yariv Levin has been vocal about his plans for years, his own party, the Likud, did not promise judicial reform/overhaul in its public campaign.  No one in the opposition, in the Knesset or in the streets, claims that Israel is a perfect democracy or that there is not a need for some judicial reform, but please stop insulting our intelligence with populist slogans.

Cancellation of the test of reasonableness does not turn Israel into a dictatorship. Even if all of Yariv Lavin’s judicial reform/overhaul laws pass the Knesset, Israel will not be a dictatorship. But Israel’s democracy will be diminished. None of us, including coalition members and their supporters, want to live in a dictatorship resembling Russia or North Korea but most Israelis (including members of the Likud) also do not want to live in a weak democracy resembling Hungary, Turkey, or Florida.

We protest in the streets over the reasonableness clause and every other small or large step towards a less democratic Israel not because we are funded by some international conspiracy, but because like Judaism, we know we must erect fences to protect our democracy.

About the Author
Dr. Lehrer holds a PhD from the Geography and Environmental Development Department of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and a joint Masters Degree in Management Science from Boston University and Ben-Gurion University. Dr. Lehrer was the Executive Director of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies from 2001 until August 2021 and has now become Director of the Center for Applied Environmental Diplomacy. Dr. Lehrer has been a member of Kibbutz Ketura since 1981.
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