In response to a Jewish friend:
The new law passed in the Knesset (parliament) to restrict the Israeli Supreme Court from overturning legislation based on their view of “reasonableness” still has to get the court’s own approval! It’s still not certain whether the court will agree that they consider the new legislation ‘reasonable’. The Israeli Supreme Court’s activism since the ’90’s reminds me of the Warren Court of the 60’s in the US, if you remember. Before commenting further, the current coalition, and their eagerness to bring some reform to the judiciary, are not friends of people who believe like me, and some laws that they want are definitely restrictive of civil liberties which we all currently enjoy.
Constitutionally, Israel has no constitution, just some “Basic Laws”, which have formed a consensual foundation since the establishment of the State back in 1948. The Basic Laws are not as “solid” as a constitution would be, but it has served fairly well all these years. But, it makes it easier for activist justices — whether they would be “right” or “left” — to presume upon themselves to overturn legislation by elected representatives that they “didn’t like”. That sounds “reasonable” if you agree with their reasoning. Otherwise, it is arbitrary, and not based on Law, but on what could be called “situational ethics”, or, maybe, “political correctness”, or, “we know better than you”. Someone who is guilty could be acquitted or given preferential treatment if the court’s justices rendered a “political” judgment, which is natural for people to do. But judges and justices are supposed to be objective according to the Law, and to the spirit/intent of the Law. Being “legalistic” often times can distort or pervert the intent of the legislation. And, legislators can also legalistically, technically, propose laws that can be ambiguous, in order to make it mean whatever they want it to mean, and not be clear about it. Sometimes that is wisdom, since there are circumstances that would benefit for “common sense”, and the “ambiguity” could allow for some discretionary authority and interpretation. But, intent, and “normal” assumptions are important. You may not agree, but a male is a male, and a female is a female; and to try to legally or emotionally get around that turns “natural normalcy” on its head, and nothing makes sense anymore.
So, I am for some judicial reform for accountable government and for democracy — if that is the form of government that a country has. I am for accountable government in any case, whatever the form of government. We have grown up with liberal democracy in a pluralistic society, giving Americans individual freedoms that most other people have not had. And the US has tried to impose that on other nations, even when those cultures and predispositions are not suited to live that way. As long as Americans had a consensus of what is normal and acceptable, versus what is neither, the “American experiment” worked pretty well, and offered unprecedented opportunities for individuals. When they understood that they were also expected and accountable to take the collective community into account — “love your neighbor as yourself”; “do unto others what you would want them to do unto you” — while they pursued their own ambitions, hopes, and dreams, the “experiment” seemed to indicate a positive outcome. But once that consensus began to break down, the society also began to lose its cohesion and common welfare.
Israel has nearly always emulated the US, sometimes to its own detriment. Our history is different; our geopolitical situation is different; God’s unique calling and purpose for His chosen people and nation and land is different than for other nations in other countries. Antisemitism is a constant reminder of that.
I agree with the need for some judicial reform, but not as the Reasonableness Law is formulated — needing only a simple majority in the Knesset to overrule a Supreme Court’s overrule of legislation. That is very fragile, and any new governing coalition can make any legislation arbitrary and political. That’s the way things will go even in America when every discourse has become contentious and divisive from a breakdown of “agreed norms”. If the Knesset required a 3/5 or 2/3 majority to overrule an overrule by the Supreme Court, that would remove nearly all politically self-serving power plays by a political party or faction or Court, yet still hold a check-and-balance on the branches of government.
Another piece of proposed legislation by the current coalition is to make Torah-study for religious Jews an equal Basic Law to the requirement for mandatory military service after high school for the other citizens. I do not agree with that, but would agree to continuing exemptions from active military duty, with mandatory “national service” instead, at least for two years. Some way of serving the nation other than in a military way. Community service of various kinds — and in societal communities not like their own — to strengthen the communal bond and express the truth that we are one nation, and that everyone should contribute to it. Now, many of those who “study Torah” not only do not do any military service (there are also many religious Jews in different “streams” who do serve militarily), but neither do they learn basic subjects in their religious schools (yeshivas) or work in gainful employment. The State heavily subsidizes them due to very strong political lobbying in order to keep a government in power. It’s political extortion, really, which, of course, breeds corruption and distrust of politicians, who are supposed to represent their people and nation — and to be honorable examples.
I also think that Arab Israelis (those with an Israeli passport, meaning that they are citizens of the country) should do national service. I support that they should not be made to serve in the military, and they mostly do not. That would be a security risk, mainly from putting them into the impossible situation of having to fight combatively against their own people and families. But, being citizens, they should be prepared to serve in a community way for the country that protects them and gives them their rights and privileges as citizens.
It has also become clear over the more than 1/2 year of protests that the issue of “judicial reform” is just a pretext of “democracy” to bring down the current government, which is dependent upon those without backgrounds and inclinations of “liberal democracy in a pluralistic society”. Neither side is “righteous”; each has its own slant/bias and prejudice that is used to rationalize their own sense of justice and propriety for the Jewish state for the Jewish people. As I said in the beginning, the current coalition and those who think like them are not friends of us who believe that Jesus is the Messiah and Son of God. But the other side isn’t either: everybody’s serving their own best interests rather than God’s. Each side defines things in a way to apply for themselves — and to expect that others must agree — to do what they want. Democracy carried to its extreme, and religion carried to its, cannot peacefully co-exist when both actually have put the one true God outside of reality. Only He is righteous, and judges righteously, and society is freed to live in peace and harmony.
In principle, this is my present take on the new law and the current unrest in Israel, which is also dividing Jewish people everywhere. Most of the media present only the narrative of those fundamentally against judicial reforms, who also try to mask the real intent to exploit the democratic right of assembly and protest to overthrow the civil order. This is similar to those who only listen to the Palestinian narrative, making Israel guilty of war crimes for any defense of the country and its citizens and its borders, since, to them, Israel should not even exist, despite all of the international laws since WWI which say otherwise. There really is no place for negotiation or compromise when one side insists on the demise of the other in order for there to be “peace”.
I share your pessimism for the US as a nation. I think its days are numbered, just as all other “empires” and “kingdoms” in history had their end. Thankfully, the Kingdom of God will finally replace all of those of “man” when the Messiah returns, and then wars will cease, and righteousness and peace will prevail.
When we were in Hebrew and Jewish history school at Temple Beth-El, we learned that Saul was Israel’s first king, but I don’t remember that we were taught that God was not happy about that, since it meant rejecting Him as the King of Israel. That’s the way it’s been ever since. This current government coalition is a catalyst towards things which must take place, even if they are “bad things”. Preparations for again offering Temple sacrifices are moving along by those who reject the truth and significance of the Messiah’s sacrifice on the cross. Covid, with its world-wide control mechanisms, was a catalyst towards a “one world government” that is in complete opposition to the Kingdom of God, and of Jesus/Yeshua being the King of the Kingdom. “Wokeness” is a symptom of a total break-down of righteous foundations, and good is being called evil, and evil is being called good. Lawlessness is increasing, and people are losing their peace of mind as well as in the communities. Nations speak of peace, but increase their preparations for wars.
The last question that Jesus’/Yeshua’s closest disciples asked Him before He returned to Heaven where He came from was: “Will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” His answer was basically: “Not yet, but meanwhile go to everyone and tell them the good news of salvation, so that they might enter the kingdom when I return.” That day is not really so far off now, given all of the prophesies that are given in both the Tanach (the OT) and in the New Testament that will certainly take place. That is the hope that I have, since that is the promise that is given from the Creator of the heavens and the Earth, and also our Redeemer — for Israel and the Jewish people, and for all the Gentiles. But without believing in the God who chose us to be His people, and believing what He has said (what is written in the Bible), then we will find ourselves outside. And it will be our fault, since He has told us in advance.