o summarize: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was re-elected last year, after he was supposed to have disappeared due to several frivolous prosecutions championed by his political opponents. (Sound familiar yet?) When he returned to office, with a bigger majority than had enjoyed before, he vowed to take on the forces that had conspired against him, and his party: namely, Israel’s own “Deep State” in the judiciary and legal hierarchy.
▶️ 2 Minutes 12 Seconds
Judicial reform has long been a simmering issue in Israel. In the 1990s, the liberal Supreme Court began to assert broad powers to overturn legislation and review executive decisions. It did so more and more brazenly.
Over time, the judiciary — which effectively controls the appointment of judges — became a bastion of left-wing power in Israel, holding the line for the secular, urbane elite against the growing religious, nationalist majority.
This “juristocracy” caused many Israelis, particularly on the right, to become frustrated with democracy: what use was there to voting for a government, after all, only to see the courts overturn everything it tried to do?
Those frustrations came to a head in recent years with several high-profile decisions, such as the rejection of a major natural gas deal, and the cancelation of a compromise on religious exemptions from military service.
But the real crisis came with the absurd prosecution of Netanyahu, which showed that democracy in Israel had become subordinate to the courts, the military brass, and the attorney general — Israel’s own “Deep State.”
Netanyahu was elected last year with a mandate to change the system. Instead of debating or negotiating, the Israeli left took to the streets. Some left-wing military reservists began deserting and endangering the country.
The Biden Administration, which likes to tell Republicans to respect the outcome of elections, sent the opposite message to the Israeli opposition, siding with the left against Netanyahu and telling him to “slow down” reform.
On Saturday, Israel’s own defense minister stabbed Netanyahu in the back, giving a speech opposing his own government’s judicial reforms while Netanyahu was abroad in the UK. Netanyahu had no choice but to fire him.
Overnight, Israeli streets exploded into protest. The trade unions are joining the fray; the airport is effectively shut down; the universities are closed; and the country is now a sitting duck for Iranian or Palestinian attacks.
Americans should watch carefully, and take note, for three reasons. First, it is deeply worrying that the Biden Administration seems to be fomenting chaos in Israel. Biden has refused even to meet with Netanyahu since he was elected last year.
Second, the crisis in Israel is a risk to stability in the Middle East. Israelis are openly worrying about their ability to confront a potentially nuclear Iran if they are mired in their own internal political struggles.
Third, and most important: what is happening in Israel is a preview of what may happen in the U.S. after 2024. Already, after 2016, Democrats refused to accept Trump as legitimate, and undermined his administration.
In 2020, they rioted in the streets, telling us that “this is what democracy looks like.” They will do the same if they lose in 2024. Americans need to be prepared — and to condemn political violence now, before it is too late. ✪