In 2007, then-editor of Israel’s far-left Haaretz newspaper David Landau implored then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to “rape” Israel. Landau told Rice that Israel “wants to be raped by the United States” into making territorial concessions to the Palestinians.
Landau’s statement, which was widely reported at the time, was and remains shocking. But over the past quarter-century, it has become common practice for the Israeli Left to turn to foreign governments and other international actors for help subverting democratic processes in Israel.
In 1977, Israel’s Left lost its political majority forever when working-class Israelis abandoned it for the political Right. Over the past 46 years, the Left has held power for a total of just under 13 years.
To compensate for its loss of political power, the Israeli Left expanded the power of Israel’s already powerful bureaucracy, which its members controlled. Over the past 30 years, using its control over the Supreme Court and the attorney general’s office, the Left enacted a judicial revolution that transformed the unelected justices into the most powerful arm of government, with no checks on its power or accountability to the public. Through judicial fiat, the justices and their allies in the attorney general’s office have clipped the wings of Israel’s elected leaders, and made all policies and laws dependent on their prior or retroactive approval.
As the years passed, more and more Israelis fell victim to the legal fraternity, which rules in accordance with its leftist values and political interests. And as more Israelis became aware of the problem, the issue of legal reform became increasingly salient in elections. In last November’s elections, the right-religious bloc won 64 seats to the Left and center-left’s 46. The central campaign issue of both sides was legal reform. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s ruling Likud party, and its three coalition partner parties all ran on platforms that laid out detailed plans for judicial and legal reform.
On the other hand, opposition leader Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party and his partners on the political Left all ran on platforms that rejected judicial and legal reform.
The election results constituted the first real prospect that the legal fraternity’s unlimited powers would be checked, and actual power restored to the government and Knesset. The Left’s response to this turn of events has been unhinged from reality, but disciplined. All elite groups in Israeli society have gathered as one to warn of the impending destruction of democracy, the rise of fascism, the collapse of minority rights, and the destruction of judicial independence. With the lockstep participation of the media, the Left has gathered in mass protests on successive Saturday nights. This week, hi-tech workers blocked traffic and assaulted motorists, and several companies declared a one-hour strike.
Attorney General Gali Baharav Miara is being urged to oust Netanyahu. Although she lacks the legal power to do so, she and her colleagues are reportedly considering the move. And this makes sense since the Supreme Court ruled January 18 that the head of one of the coalition parties, and a senior minister in the Netanyahu government was not allowed to serve as a cabinet minister and ordered Netanyahu to fire him.
The justices insisted it was “extremely unreasonable” for Shas party leader Aryeh Deri to serve as a government minister, because he was convicted of a minor tax violation and accepted a fine and a suspended sentence in his plea deal. Aside from that, they said, that Deri promised the judge at his sentencing that he would leave public life.
The fact that neither of the grounds had anything to do with the law didn’t bother the justices. So there is reason to fear that Miara will similarly ignore the law and declare Netanyahu unfit for office, despite her lack of legal authority. Miara was appointed by the previous government and has made no effort to hide her intention to use her power to block the government from passing its judicial reform package into law.
As Josh Hammer explained last week in Newsweek, there is nothing anti-democratic about the reform package. Most Americans would be stunned to discover that the checks the proposal envisions, such as political control over judicial appointments and limits on the Court’s power to abrogate laws, aren’t in place already.
But this isn’t about democracy. It is about power. And in the game of power, nothing is off limits. So in addition to blocking traffic, organizing big Saturday night rallies, and holding one-hour work stoppages in woke hi-tech firms, the Left is reinstating Landau’s effort to convince the international community to “rape” their own country.
Earlier this week, Landau’s former paper Haaretz published an article titled, “Biden’s Passivity is a Big Problem for Israeli Democracy.” The gist of the article argued that the only democrats in Israel are on the Left. And the Biden administration must put its thumbs on the scale against the government’s judicial reform plans so the public and the government are intimidated into abandoning it. “Things need to be said clearly in order to get people’s attention here,” Haaretz‘s Amir Tibon insisted.
Haaretz is far from alone. Last week, the fully mobilized media approached Maxim Rybnikov, Standard and Poor’s chief analyst responsible for determining Israel’s credit rating. They implored him to say that the planned judicial reforms will undermine Israel’s credit rating. Rybnikov explained that the risks to Israel’s credit emanated from sources that have nothing to do with the proposed judicial reform. They have to do with the global economic downturn and the fact that 60% of Israel’s international trade is with the U.S. and Europe, both of which are headed into economic downturns.
But after four or five follow-up questions pushing him to decry the government’s judicial reform package, Rybnikov finally played some ball:
If, contrary to the previous situation, the institutional system in Israel enters a consistent path of weakening, including damage to the system of checks and balances, and political power is concentrated too much in the hands of one person or one group, the public debate will also be damaged and it will lead to fiscal policy being less responsible —not just for one year, but become a feature of policymaking. All these things could become a real rating risk.
In other words, Rybnikov said, maybe, if a hundred things that aren’t part of the judicial reform proposal happen, Israel’s credit rating might be at risk.
That was enough for the media and its allies. They rushed into action. Two hundred and seventy “leading economists” all said the judicial reforms are liable to harm Israel’s credit ratings and tank the economy.
Wednesday, Netanyahu explained that the Court’s outsize role is one of the major blocks on economic growth in Israel. Netanyahu recalled that the Supreme Court delayed major infrastructure programs that transformed Israel’s economy. It nearly blocked the development of Israel’s natural gas industry that “has made Israel’s electricity prices among the lowest in the world,” and made Israel energy-independent.
Back in 2007, Rice reportedly shrugged off Landau’s request. The Biden administration would do well to follow in her footsteps.
Caroline B. Glick is a Newsweek columnist, the senior contributing editor of Jewish News Syndicate, and the diplomatic commentator for Israel’s Channel 14. She is also the author of The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East, (Crown Forum, 2014). From 1994 to 1996, she served as a core member of Israel’s negotiating team with the Palestine Liberation Organization.
The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own.