How the Israeli Left Has Undermined Faith in the Rule of Law

April 16 2019

In the months leading up to Israel’s recent elections, the country’s attorney general announced that he would seek indictments against Benjamin Netanyahu on multiple charges of corruption. Nonetheless, Netanyahu’s Likud party gained seats in the Knesset, ensuring that he will retain the premiership. Evelyn Gordon points to a survey, conducted in February, that may explain why the corruption charges haven’t damaged Netanyahu at the ballot box:

Fully 65 percent of Likud voters and 75 percent of ḥaredi voters think law-enforcement agencies are simply trying to oust Netanyahu. On one level, this is shocking. But on another, it’s not shocking at all because the Israeli left has spent decades successfully subverting the concept of “the rule of law” for its own political benefit.

For instance, Israel’s Supreme Court repeatedly overturns government policies not because they violate any law but because the justices deem them “unreasonable.” . . . Moreover, in almost every Western democracy, the executive and legislative branches choose Supreme Court justices; only in Israel do sitting justices have veto power over the choice of their successors. Yet the left has branded every attempt to align Israel’s judicial appointments system with this Western norm as “contrary to the rule of law,” and has thereby successfully staved off change. . . .

[In addition], there’s the unequal application of laws, as epitomized by a pre-election [Supreme Court] ruling that disqualified a Jewish Knesset candidate but nixed the disqualification of an Arab party, Balad. . . .

So here’s how your average rightist voter understands the rule of law today: [as] a trick for ensuring that the left can continue imposing its views no matter how many elections it loses. That trick has successfully thwarted all legislative efforts at reform. But the price is that many rightists now distrust and despise “the rule of law” to such an extent that they dismiss pending indictments against a prime minister as just another attempt by the legal establishment to subvert democracy.

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More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli democracy, Israeli Election 2019, Supreme Court of Israel

At the UN, Nikki Haley Told the Truth about Israel—and the World Didn’t Burn Down

April 22 2019

Although Nikki Haley had never been to Israel when she took the position of American ambassador to the UN, and had no prior foreign-policy experience, she distinguished herself as one of the most capable and vigorous defenders of the Jewish state ever to hold the position. Jon Lerner, who served as Haley’s deputy during her ambassadorship, sees the key to her success—regarding both Israel and many other matters—in her refusal to abide by the polite fictions that the institution holds sacred:

Myths are sometimes assets in international relations. The fiction that Taiwan is not an independent country, for example, allows [the U.S.] to sustain [its] relationship with China. In other cases, however, myths can create serious problems. On Israel–Palestinian issues, the Trump administration was determined to test some mythical propositions that many had come to take for granted, and, in some cases, to refute them. Haley’s prominence at the UN arose in large part from a conscious choice to reject myths that had pervaded diplomacy on Israel–Palestinian issues for decades. . . .

[For instance], U.S. presidents were intimidated by the argument that recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would trigger violent explosions throughout the Muslim world. President Trump and key colleagues doubted this, and they turned out to be right. Violent reaction in the Palestinian territories was limited, and there was virtually none elsewhere in Arab and Islamic countries. . . .

It turns out that the United States can support Israel strongly and still work closely with Arab states to promote common interests like opposing Iranian threats. The Arab street is not narrowly Israel-minded and is not as volatile as long believed. The sky won’t fall if the U.S. stops funding UN sacred cows like the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine (UNRWA). Even if future U.S. administrations revert to the policies of the past, these old assumptions will remain disproved. That is a valuable accomplishment that will last long after Nikki Haley’s UN tenure.

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More about: Donald Trump, Nikki Haley, United Nations, US-Israel relations