David Brent

Joining the Protests Against Judicial Overhaul

I am a right-wing religious Zionist. I grew up in the USA. I married and raised my children and built a successful business in the USA. But when my children finished High School and I could manage my business without being there full time, I moved to Israel. I moved to Israel so that I could live with my people in our ancient homeland as commanded by God.

Joining Protests in Haifa

I believe what the great sage Judah HaLevi taught almost 1000 years ago. That there is a spiritual bond between the nation of Israel and the land of Israel. That the nation of Israel cannot thrive outside of the land of Israel. Neither can the land of Israel thrive without the people of Israel. History has proven this to be true. For thousands of years the nation of Israel has wandered from land to land – persecuted everywhere. At the same time, the land of Israel had fallen to waste. But a miracle has occurred, the nation of Israel has returned to its promised land and both are thriving.

But now that we are thriving, now that the external existential threats to the Jewish Nation are withering away, the divisions that exist between us are growing and threatening to destroy us. We are becoming our own worst enemy.

The greatest division is between religious and secular. It is this division that I am fighting against. And an independent supreme court is the strongest balance against this division.

Why is the Israel supreme court under attack?

Israel’s supreme court has held back the religious Zionist movement by ordering Israeli illegal settlements destroyed while preventing illegal Arab settlements from being destroyed.

At the same time, Israel’s supreme court has ruled against the interests of the Ultra-Orthodox leadership by requiring basic studies in their schools, religious pluralism at the Kotel, and limiting avoidance of army service by Yeshiva students.

As a result, the religious Zionists and the Ultra-Orthodox have joined forces to fight against the independence of the Israeli Supreme Court. Netanyahu’s government relies on both of these elements in order to stay in power. And, it is in Netanyahu’s best interest to be able to select the judges that will be ruling on his multiple corruption charges. The new law will negate the power of the courts to overrule laws passed by the majority in the Knesset. This new law will allow Netanyahu’s government to select the new judges to the supreme court.

I believe that reform is needed. But not the reform proposed by the government. The new law will strip the courts of its independence. Israel needs an independent Supreme Court to protect the rights of its minorities.

In this current government, the religious have control. And without an independent court, they can force their will on the secular.

It is my belief that Israelis should be both secular and religious. Secular in the sense that we need to study science. Religious in the sense that we need to study Torah. We cannot neglect either one. A diet of only calories without vitamins is not healthy. We need science to teach us how to survive. We need Torah to teach us why. There are Israelis who only respect science and there are those who only respect Torah. This new legislation forces the majority views over the minorities. Trying to force your values on others only serves to drive them further away.

As the Jewish Nation of Israel continues to struggle to find its soul, we need to ensure that the struggle is done with respect to all sides. Attracting others to our values – not forcing them through legislation. An independent supreme court is needed to maintain that balance.

About the Author
David Brent is a NASA engineer with a master's and bachelor's from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology turned candy entrepreneur. He made aliya in the spring of 2013. David commutes between Israel, where his heart is, and Florida, where his business is.