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American Jews should diffuse the fire, not intervene

“Top Story” with Jonathan Tobin and guest Alayna Meisel, Ep. 102

As the debate over judicial reform in Israel heats up, it’s clear that the Biden administration is seeking to intervene in the domestic politics of the Jewish state, says JNS editor-in-chief Jonathan Tobin. According to Tobin, the warm reception Israeli President Isaac Herzog received in Washington shouldn’t obscure the willingness of Biden to hypocritically embrace the disingenuous arguments of the Israeli opposition that their country’s democratically elected government is trying to destroy the Jewish state’s democracy.

Tobin is joined by Aylana Meisel, the founder of Tikvah Fund Israel’s Law and Liberty Forum, to discuss the question of judicial reform and why the Netanyahu government is seeking to restrain what she terms “one of the most powerful courts in the Western world,” especially when compared to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Meisel explains that while the proposed reforms would enhance the country’s democracy rather than make it an authoritarian system, those protesting seem to define the word differently. They see it as exemplified by the dominance of their particular political and cultural worldview rather than a system where the people’s will is expressed through elections. She points out that the substance of the debate isn’t really about the details of the legislative proposals but the cultural, social and political divisions within Israeli society in which the opposition finds itself representing those who lost the last election.

While she has faith in the “goodness of the Israeli people” to help avoid the civil war that some of the protesters seem to be pointing to, Meisel is concerned by the way that American Jewish leaders are taking sides against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. She believes that they are “effectively dismissing the majority of Israeli voters” by falsely claiming that Israel is on the verge of abandoning democracy and hurting the country’s image. Instead, she says, they should be “reaching out” to help bring people together.

Her opinions are her own and do not represent those of the Tikvah Fund or the Law and Liberty Forum.

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