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The Boogeyman is coming

Even if you like what the override law means for today, the odds are good that you'll have reason to hate it down the road
A view of the Israeli Supreme Court in Jerusalem. (Flash90)
A view of the Israeli Supreme Court in Jerusalem. (Flash90)

He’s coming, and you should be afraid.  No matter whose eyes you’re looking through.

If you have left-leaning eyes, you might be looking at the proposed Override Law with dread. You see King Bibi, ensconced on his throne, holding power for what seems like forever, at the price of passing laws at the behest of special interest parties that erode civil rights. You see more funds going to prop-up the collapsing Haredi economic system while its sons don’t shoulder the burden of defending our country alongside your own. You see asylum-seekers sent back to their countries of origin to their deaths. You dread the upcoming laws involving religious coercion and violations of civil or human rights — which can be only symbolically struck down by the High Court before getting passed again by the same Knesset majority that instituted them the first time.

There are no checks and balances, no protection of minority or civil rights that can limit the tyranny of the majority.  Whatever the right-wing majority coalition wants, it gets — the cost to civil rights be damned.

The Boogeyman indeed.  But he isn’t who you think he is. He’s not the right-wing, nor is he Haredi.

If you have right-leaning eyes, perhaps you are not so upset right now. Finally, that leftist court that was thwarting the democratic will of the people with its unelected judicial activism has been defanged.  Finally, the elected prime minister can do his job without having to worry about defending himself against frivolous and irrelevant criminal charges that were born out of attacks on him by the leftist police, attorney general, and media. Finally, the infiltrators can be kicked out. Finally, we can annex Judea and Samaria. It is the will of the coalition, the will of the majority without any outside interferences — it sure smells like democracy.

But — regardless of the individual policies of the right or left — the Boogeyman comes to right and left alike. This is because the removal of the Supreme Court’s power of judicial review will make the will of a simple majority in the Knesset supreme not just for this government — but for the next, and the next, and the next, ad infinitum. And no one can see the future.

Maybe it will be a distant (or not so distant?) future where, having annexed all of Judea and Samaria, we will have an Israel where Jews are outnumbered by Arabs (most of whom are generally understood not to be right-wing). Or, perhaps sooner, one where right-wing Jews are outnumbered by the combination of left-wing Jews and Arabs. Or perhaps it will be a future where all of a sudden you find yourself feeling a little centrist, not because you are no longer right-wing, but because even though the right wing is in power, it’s Otzma Yehudit calling the shots.

Who will protect your rights, as a normal, sane right-winger, against the will of the Arab-left majority? Or against the former fringe right which now leaves you on the fringes? Or against whatever other changing winds the future, both near and distant, may hold? It won’t be the Supreme Court, even if the next few governments manage to pack the judiciary with right-leaning judges. Its power will be long gone, and along with it democracy, which balances governance by the majority with protection of everyone’s rights — right and left, Arab and Jew alike.

The Boogeyman is coming, and unlike the Boogeyman of lore, this one is real. It harms the entire spectrum, from left to right.   Its name is the Override Law.

Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Postscript:  Balance goes both ways — the Supreme Court must be able to check the Knesset, but the Knesset must also be able to check the Court.  How else can democracy be protected from an activist Supreme Court?  One way (out of several possibilities) is to enact a law that allows the Knesset to override a Supreme Court decision, but to require a supermajority, such as 2/3 of the Knesset, to do so.

About the Author
Michael Merdinger lives in Israel. Some of his thoughts on Judaism can be found at: http://naviandstuff.blogspot.co.il/
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