Despite Widespread Protest and Controversy, Israeli Democracy Endures

On Monday, the Knesset passed an amendment to Israel’s Basic Law stating that courts cannot countermand a ministerial decision or override a ministerial appointment on grounds of unreasonableness. The measure has set off intense protests in Israel, as well as condemnations and expressions of concern from Democratic politicians in the U.S. The editors of the New York Sun comment:

President Biden’s reaction—to lecture the Israeli leader that a measure of such magnitude shouldn’t be allowed to squeak by—is condescending nonsense, particularly from a president who gained passage of his own economic program by slim votes.

The most impressive thing about the drama unfolding in Israel, though, is Israel’s democracy itself. The protests have gone on, the press is at full tilt, and the scene in the Knesset was as raucous as could be.

In other words, democracy is functioning as it should. No mass arrests. No one is being “disappeared.” Democracy is often messy, and one could say the more turbulent, the more democratic. Yet, save for some isolated incidents, there has been little violence over this in Israel.

The truth is that what we’re seeing in Israel is what one would expect from any healthy democracy or any country of laws. And why not? This is a fight over laws that are being made or reformed. Those refusing to defend the county or those physicians who protest by betraying the Hippocratic oath will, if there are violations for civil disobedience, be held accountable by the laws of the country. They are unlikely to have a major impact on the outcome.

Read more at New York Sun

More about: Israeli democracy, Israeli Judicial Reform, Joe Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship

Why Hizballah Is Threatening Cyprus

In a speech last Wednesday, Hizballah’s secretary general Hassan Nasrallah not only declared that “nowhere will be safe” in Israel in the event of an all-out war, but also that his forces would attack the island nation of Cyprus. Hanin Ghaddar, Farzin Nadimi, and David Schenker observe that this is no idle threat, but one the Iran-backed terrorist group has “a range of options” for carrying out. They explain: 

Nasrallah’s threat to Cyprus was not random—the republic has long maintained close ties with Israel, much to Hizballah’s irritation. In recent years, the island has hosted multiple joint air-defense drills and annual special-forces exercises with Israel focused on potential threats from Hizballah and Iran.

Nasrallah’s threat should also be viewed in the context of wartime statements by Iran and its proxies about disrupting vital shipping lanes to Israel through the East Mediterranean.

This scenario should be particularly troubling to Washington given the large allied military presence in Cyprus, which includes a few thousand British troops, more than a hundred U.S. Air Force personnel, and a detachment of U-2 surveillance aircraft from the 1st Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron.

Yoni Ben Menachem suggests there is an additional aspect to Nasrallah’s designs on Cyprus, involving a plan

to neutralize the Israeli air force through two primary actions: a surprise attack with precision missiles and UAVs on Israeli air-force bases and against radar and air-defense facilities, including paralyzing Ben-Gurion Airport.

Nasrallah’s goal is to ground Israeli aircraft to prevent them from conducting missions in Lebanon against mid- and long-range missile launchers. Nasrallah fears that Israel might preempt his planned attack by deploying its air force to Cypriot bases, a scenario the Israeli air force practiced with Cyprus during military exercises over the past year.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Cyprus, Hizballah, U.S. Security