(November 3, 2022 / JNS) I’m not Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu’s biggest fan, but credit where it’s due: Even in a political system where no one seems to ever leave politics permanently, he pulled off yet a third comeback.
The first time around, he seemed to be politically dead in the water after the Rabin assassination was falsely blamed on Israeli conservatives. The second time, after being quickly ousted by Clinton’s operatives and seemingly being consigned to the political wilderness by a new system, he made a comeback and had an enduring tenure.
Now, after repeated elections and massive dysfunction, Bibi’s back, with what looks to be a stronger coalition and a badly battered left.
The good isn’t hard to see—especially after the caretaker government of Yair Lapid cut a deal to hand over a chunk of Israel’s energy industry to Hezbollah. Anything was better than the insane coalition of fake centrists, leftists, Islamists and anti-religious fanatics who governed before.
Netanyahu is better than that. Unfortunately, he also has a long history of talking tough and doing nothing.
As a peacetime prime minister, he’s been a good one. Israel’s economy mostly prospered, until the recent state of disaster. Reporters talked to Arab Muslims who voted for Netanyahu’s Likud Party because they remembered prices being better and the economy looking brighter under him.
And Netanyahu’s ad campaign hammered home economic issues with clever ads that had him chatting with ordinary Israelis one-on-one about their problems. (Looking at Israeli election ads, American ads feel surprisingly lame and badly done.)
The existential stuff that Americans know Netanyahu for is another issue. And when it comes to that, he tends to be mostly talk.
But Israel is a parliamentary democracy. And beyond giving him a governing coalition, this has been a sizable victory for the right and a severe defeat for the left.
As of now, with over 90% of the votes counted, Meretz and Balad aren’t making it into the Knesset. For Meretz, a radical leftist party, not to make it into the Knesset is historic. Labor, the establishment leftist party, took another severe electoral beating. At four seats, it’s one of the smallest parties in the Knesset and barely made it past the electoral threshold.
While a handful of idiots still voted for Shaked’s Bayit Yehudi, a party that started with patriotic promise before betraying its voters and the country, it failed to pass. But in its place, the Religious Zionist Party, has scored a massive victory. And if it can, unlike its predecessors, leverage that to make real changes instead of falling into infighting, that could be truly meaningful.
First up is another effort to roll back the unelected tyranny of the Supreme Court.
Passing legislation enabling the Knesset to override High Court rulings is a top priority for the far-right Religious Zionism Party, two of its incoming MKs said Wednesday.
Amichay Eliyahu, number nine on the Religious Zionism-Otzma Yehudit joint slate, told The Times of Israel that the party was determined to “restore democracy,” which he said had been “seized by a small group of people” in the judicial system.
MK Simcha Rothman said there would be no justification for a right-wing government if it did not succeed in passing such a law.
The Religious Zionism-Otzma Yehudit alliance made passing a High Court override law a central pillar of its manifesto during the campaign. Such a bill would allow the Knesset to re-legislate a law that the High Court strikes down as incommensurate with Israel’s Basic Laws.
Rothman—along with party leaders MK Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir—strongly opposes the principle of judicial review, whereby the High Court can annul legislation passed by a majority in the Knesset.
All true. And vital to restoring some kind of democracy instead of a branja oligarchy.
Remember, this was why Netanyahu was ousted using a phony scandal to begin with.
In a recent op-ed, Caroline Glick discusses the transcript of Israel’s attorney general, Avichai Mandelblit, discussing his decision to indict former prime minister Netanyahu. The tape was either from a private briefing of sympathetic reporters at Ha’aretz or a talk to prosecutors in the State Attorney’s office. But in either case, it is clear that Mandelblit wanted it disseminated.
According to Mandelblit, Netanyahu “constituted a danger to democracy.” The specific threat, as outlined by Mandelblit, was that Netanyahu intended to change the system of judicial appointments and limit the power of the attorney general.
Far from upholding Israeli democracy, it would appear from Mandelblit’s comments that it was he, and not Netanyahu, who threatened Israeli democracy. Philosophical differences over the proper method of appointing justices to the Supreme Court, or on the powers of the attorney general, should not serve as the basis for a criminal indictment. And that is especially so when it is Israel’s current system of judicial appointment and the powers of the attorney-general that are glaring exceptions among the world’s democracies.
Mandelblit firmly placed himself in a long line of attorney generals who have viewed their task as protecting from oversight the legal establishment—Supreme Court justices, the state attorney’s office and the police—popularly known as the branja. The most glaring example of the phenomenon was former Attorney-General Michael Ben-Yair’s decision to prosecute Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman shortly after his appointment.
The founder of Israel’s leading law firms and a prominent law professor, Neeman represented an unprecedented threat to the ruling clique in the State Attorney’s office. He was both one of Israel’s sharpest legal minds and not a member of the branja.
As reported in Yediot Aharonot, shortly after Neeman’s appointment, Ben-Yair convened a meeting of top prosecutors in which he promised to make sure the new “dog” did not leave deep scratches on the furniture. The identity of the “dog” was made clear by Ben-Yair’s reading of a satiric article about the practices of religious Jews. Neeman was an observant Jew.
So a new government would be potentially another round in the struggle by Israelis to reclaim their country from the corrupt mafia that used the likes of Yair Lapid, Israel’s Justin Trudeau, as their front man.
Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical left and Islamic terrorism.
This article was first published by FrontPage Magazine.
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