Netanyahu truly aims to be ‘King Bibi’ now. We must use all legal means to thwart him

For decades, his supporters have hailed Benjamin Netanyahu, the country’s prime minister for a fifth of his life, as “Bibi, King of Israel”.

The title has never been more appropriate than today. Back on the national political throne after a brief hiatus, Netanyahu wields extraordinary power as the head of a largely like-minded far-right coalition, and he seeks to strengthen his position by advancing the only defense against the excesses of his or any government. Intent on widening the hold further. , High Court of Justice. If he proves capable of usurping the independence and capabilities of the court, Israel will de facto be his state.

As with kings throughout the millennium, however, the accumulation of absolute power has coincided with our ruler’s inability to separate his personal interests from those of the kingdom, a growing certainty that he and only he can effectively lead Israel. eradicating dissenting voices, cultivating a chorus of “yes” men (and very few women) around him, and the resulting conviction that any and all means are valid and necessary to maintain his rule.

The tragedy for the kingdom is that Netanyahu has put it on a path of destruction. To quote reluctantly from Tuesday Yoga By our commonly understood president, Isaac Herzog, the judicial revolution Netanyahu intends to threaten to “consume us all” through parliament.

Why would “King Bibi” be acting in such an obviously dangerous way – not only subverting the judiciary, but also empowering criminals and homosexuals and messianists and theologians, on her cabinet table?

In large part because core self-interest required that he recuse himself from his trial, and in doing so defeat the leftist Ashkenazi elite – the police, state prosecutors, the media, and politics – that had sought to investigate him. He combined his energies to be indicted and put on the dock for crimes he is adamant he did not commit and the actions he insists were not criminal.

The way he sees it, the heirs of the same elites who conspired against his father in the academic realm, they have staged a political coup. In short, they also succeeded. But now he is back in power, intent on having the last word, and has persuaded himself – with no input from his close family – that his success will be Israel’s success.

a staged plan

His initial enforcer is the scornful obsessive he sidelined for years, now revealed to be his Minister of Justice, Yariv Levin. Now six daysAfter the coalition took over, Levin was sent out Present His long-drawn, ridiculously inaccurate “reform” proposal – a four-point plan to ensure that our judges cannot protect Israelis from abuse by the governing coalition. Far from being a well-intentioned, legitimate attempt to carefully and consensually adjust the sensitive balance between the executive and the judiciary, this constitutes an imposed, swiftly enacted revolution in the way Israel is governed, to the political majority. Gives almost unlimited power.

As Levin noted, however, those proposals are only the “first phase” of rebuilding Israel’s regime. In later stages, it is readily accepted, this will involve the splitting of the two roles of the Attorney General of Israel – as chief adviser to the government and as head of state prosecutors.

Justice Minister Yariv Levin held a press conference on January 4, 2023, in the Knesset, revealing his plans for radical changes to Israel’s judicial system. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

While Levin’s first phase of the overhaul is disastrous in its consequences for Israeli democracy, the idea of ​​splitting the attorney general’s responsibilities between two officials is not without merit. But for Netanyahu, who was determined to avoid his trial, it provides the perfect exit route. The carefully chosen chief prosecutor would have the authority to re-examine the charges against the prime minister and his appointees would be expected to credibly conclude that Netanyahu has no reasonable case to answer. An independent, competent High Court may have other views as well; But Levin’s “first step,” if implemented, would ensure that there is no independent, competent high court.

Young, Energetic, Insidious Colleague

Likud’s allies in government have a vested interest in helping Netanyahu — because he empowers them, because he serves their interests and because they have their own beefs with interventionists. The court would not allow the Ultra-Orthodox parties to fully codify their discriminatory broad exemption from military service into law; It would not allow settlements on private Palestinian land in the far-right to be legal; It protects against anti-Arab racism and anti-LGBTQ discrimination; It bans misdemeanor criminals from ministerial office.

Netanyahu is no military adventurer. He is not a theist. He recognizes the importance of close ties with the United States, and that they depend on the intimacy that only two democracies can share. He served for years in the IDF within a clear chain of command and knows the life and death importance of that clarity. He does not subscribe to a Suprematist Judaism. A secular Jew, he does not disdain non-Orthodox Judaism and does not seek to unnecessarily alienate the diaspora. They have taken immense and justifiable pride in the fact that Israel has been able to serve as a trustworthy refuge for all those persecuted as Jews, regardless of whether they fulfill the halachaic designation of Judaism. He nurtured Israel’s astonishing tech sector and understands better than almost anyone how important it is to the economy, and by extension Israel’s ability to defend itself from its enemies. And he appreciates the value of an independent High Court – for protecting rights within Israel, and against powerful outside critics of Israel, particularly with regard to Israel’s policies on the Palestinians.

One way or another, to some extent, his various coalition partners take completely different positions on one or more of these issues. They are not at all tolerant in their Judaism. They certainly aren’t all Democrats. Not all of them are Zionists.

But he must bypass the judicial system, “rebalance” the branches of government in his favor, and end his trial.

and ultimately – even as he funds the ultra-Orthodox school and yeshiva networks that undermine the workforce; Even as pro-religious rulings and bills proliferate, from limiting critical infrastructure work on Shabbat to gender-segregated public events to banning ha’metz (leavened items) from hospitals on Passover. until; Even though his coalition deals provide for anti-Arab and anti-LGBTQ discrimination – he claims he can curb their more outrageous tendencies. After all she is King Bibi.

And yet you can be sure that Arie Deris, Bezel Smotrich and Itamar Ben Gvirs – energetic, tireless, young – believe, even as they slyly kiss her metaphorical ring, their Pass will have the last word.

MK Bezalel Smotrich (right), head of the Religious Zionism party, with MK Itamar Ben Gvir, head of the Otzma Yehudit party, in the Knesset on December 28, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi / Flash90)

A less complacent, arrogant and ineffective opposition could block the November 1 election result that gave Netanyahu and these allies such a decisive majority when the popular vote was split close to 50-50.

An earlier iteration of his own Likud would have resented a betrayal of the liberal, democratic principles espoused by the leader who first brought the party to power, Menachem Begin. But Biggins, father and son, are gone, and Meridors and even Steinitz are gone, leaving only Dichters and Barkats, who should have known better, and a collection of new ambitious faces often right ahead of their colleagues. and is indistinguishable, any internal dissent is easily pacified by the promise of a meaningless ministry or the chairmanship of a fringe committee.

What to do

And so it falls upon the majority of the Israeli public – who voted against these coalition parties, and who support them but have come to oppose key aspects of their agenda – to try to thwart the monarchy, any more. This unfolding tragedy to use all legal means. To the defense of the High Court, which so far shows no sign of wanting to pack up and go home. To perform not in the thousands, but in the hundreds.

In Tel Aviv on January 21, 2023, a crowd estimated at over 100,000 gathers at a protest against the government’s proposed sweeping changes to the judicial system. (Flash 90)

The effort is already in full swing. Lawyers are sending their warning letters, as are university heads and bankers and economists. Techies are protesting, warning of brain drain.

Diaspora Jewish leaders, often understandably reluctant to intervene in Israel’s affairs, must intrinsically recognize that the destiny of our remarkable country, the homeland of the global Jewish people, to quote Herzog again, is at stake. is on And they should use such leverage as they can muster to effectively voice their concerns.

And so, too, must our international allies, led by the United States, whose core values ​​are no longer shared, demonstrate their friendship and defend their interests by highlighting the consequences of our intimate mutual alliance. .

Israeli President Isaac Herzog speaks at the Ashmoret conference in Tel Aviv on January 24, 2023.

“Israel’s democratic foundations, including the justice system, and human rights and freedoms, are sacred, and we must protect them and the values ​​expressed in the Declaration of Independence,” urged our president, who will be elected in 2021 by an unprecedented consensus. 87 of the 120 Knesset members were elected, exactly the kind of consensus that should guide any responsible effort to truly “reform” the core components of our democracy.

“I fear we are on the verge of an internal conflict that could consume us all,” Herzog warned on Tuesday. “The absence of communication is tearing us apart from within, and I’m telling you loud and clear: This powder keg is about to explode. This is an emergency.”

Herzog continued, “During the reign of the House of David and the Hasmoneans,” the Jewish kingdom was established in the Land of Israel, and fell twice before it reached its 80th anniversary.

This should not be allowed to happen in Bibi’s era.