In his latest op-ed, David Horovitz, the chief editor of the platform I am writing on now, claims that the Israeli democracy is under assault from illiberal forces, threatening the Supreme Court, minorities and freedom of speech. “There’s a chill in the air”, he claims.
But the truth is that Israel democracy has been under assault for some times now, over 25 years, and by the exact forces he wishes to defend. First let’s remind a basic concept: democracy is the rule of the people, for the people, and by the people. It is not “a system of enlightened values”, it is not identical to “liberal” (meaning progressive) ideology, it is not the government of judges, clerks, and unelected officials.
The Israeli Supreme Court is unique in the world for its activism and disregard for the law. The judges took powers that were never granted to them by the people, the only source of legitimacy, and intervene in domains that no Supreme Court in the Western world would dare to, like security or budgetary issues. And let’s remind that many western countries have no Supreme Court to begin with and are perfectly democratic.
The Attorney General decides which policy is to be implemented according to his whims. Government clerks oppose and stop and policy that they personally do not like. The police is corrupt and open political investigations to destroy people they deem dangerous. The media does not deal with reporting facts but political propaganda and fake news. And I could go on.
The issue is that what we call in Israel “the old elites” have never accepted the legitimacy of the Likud and the right victory. They believe that the country only belongs to them, not to the “primitive” religious or the mizrahi “baboons”. They like democracy only when they win the elections.
So in the last decades, when they understood that the right will stay in power at least from time to time, they decided to change the rules and transfer the real power to the unelected elites that they still control. The elected MKs and ministers have less and less authority and power. They can almost do nothing. And for a long time, they did not react. Maybe they did not understand what was going on, maybe they were afraid.
But not anymore. The Israeli right has decided to bring back democracy and the left is terrified and hysterical because they know that they can’t win elections. “Who cares about Israel if we can’t control it” seems to be their motto. They do not care about facts, they do not care about the havoc they create, they will destroy everything in order to stop the Likud and the right-wing from reestablishing a real democracy in Israel.
Yes, if the Supreme Court dares to cancel a Fundamental Law voted by the absolute majority of the MKs, it will be an earthquake of inimaginable consequences, because it would be a direct attack against the sovereignty of the people and a law supported by the overwhelming majority of Israelis.
Yes, a military high officer who on the Day of the Remembrance of the Holocaust compares his country to Nazi Germany should have been fired on the spot and certainly can’t be selected as Chief of Staff.
Yes every country has the right to control its borders and to expel illegal immigrants, in particular when that is, again, the will of the overwhelming majority of the citizens.
Israeli democracy is under assault – by the very people that David Horovitz is presenting as victims – but the Israeli democracy is strong and will prevail.