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Israeli newspapers run black front-page ad after judicial reform vote

The Israeli Hi-Tech Protest movement paid for the advertisements.

The front pages of several Israeli newspapers on July 25, 2023, a day after the Knesset passed the "reasonableness bill" into law. Photo by Chaim Goldbeg/Flash90.
The front pages of several Israeli newspapers on July 25, 2023, a day after the Knesset passed the "reasonableness bill" into law. Photo by Chaim Goldbeg/Flash90.

Several leading Israeli newspapers ran entirely black front page advertisements on Tuesday morning, in response to the passing of key judicial reform legislation the day before.

The ads, published by “Israel Hayom,” “Haaretz,” “Yediot Ahronot” and “Calcalist,” were paid for by the Israeli Hi-Tech Protest movement, a group comprising hi-tech employees and business owners.

“A black day for Israeli democracy,” the organization’s ad read, while the word “advertisement” was only printed in small text at the top of the page.

The protest group openly claimed the advertisement on Tuesday morning, writing on Twitter: “They got us! We tried so hard to hide our logo, [it’s on] page 2 of the newspaper.”

Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir responded by saying that “your opinion will not be bought by the hundreds of millions [of shekels spent] by foreign entities that finance the demonstrations, bought all the front pages of the newspapers this morning and are running a campaign to destroy the country.”

A full front-page ad in an Israeli newspaper currently costs around 295,000 shekels (approximately $80,000 dollars), other social media users noted, which would bring the total cost of the initiative to at least $300,000.

Israeli election laws preclude publications from refusing to run certain advertisements with a political message.

On Monday afternoon, all 64 members of Netanyahu’s governing coalition voted into law a bill to restrict judges’ use of the “reasonableness” standard. Opposition lawmakers boycotted the third and final vote.

The amendment to Basic Law: The Judiciary bars “reasonableness” as a justification for judges to reverse decisions made by the Cabinet, ministers and “other elected officials as set by law.”

“Today, we performed a necessary democratic step,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a speech on Monday night, explaining that realizing the will of the voters “is not the end of democracy… it is the essence of democracy.”

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