Notes on Judicial Changes in Israel

The Economist Podcast “The Intelligence.”

  • Netanyahu’s judicial take-over
  • These are the most serious protests in the history of Israel.
  • Half a million people were in the streets on Saturday.
  • There are warnings of a civil war.
  • He has a tiny majority with far right and ultra-orthodox factions.
  • The protests have been going on for ten weeks.
  • The protests are increasing in ferocity and number.
  • January – New government, a “legal reform” was introduced.  Taking away most of the checks and balances of democracy.
  • Ultra-orthodox groups see the Supreme Court as having imposed its own values on the rest of society.
  • Half the population sees it important to preserve an independent judiciary.
  • It’s about a secular and liberal segment of the population in the economy and in the military.  What’s worried about are the other policies that will follow this change.
  • Two critical communities have mobilized, the tech sector which is threatening to leave the country.  The other group is officers in the reserve units of the military.  They are threatening to refuse to serve what they see as a dictatorship.
  • Netanyahu has been surprised by the reaction.  The involvement of these two sectors – tech and the military – makes it harder for him to portray the protesters as unpatriotic anarchists.
  • He has tried to placate the reserve forces, a climb down for him.
  • The protesters have not focused on the Palestinian citizens.  (This has been a criticism).
  • Western allies have been “surprisingly vocal” on this issue.  Biden and other senior administration officials have said that there is a need for independent judicial institutions.  The western Jewish community has also expressed discomfort with the changes. 
  • Netanyahu senior officials shunned by groups in the US.
  • Netanyahu is trapped.  Other parties will not join his government because he has been indicted.  The factions supporting Netanyahu are determined to take down the Supreme Court.
  • The next two weeks are crucial. 

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