The Israeli Right Seems to Be Pointing toward a New Way of Avoiding Constitutional Crisis

In a recent speech, Simcha Rothman—a Religious Zionist-party parliamentarian and one of the major proponents of reforming the Jewish state’s judiciary—posed the question on which the country’s political future now turns. Now that the Knesset has passed a law curbing one of the Supreme Court’s powers, how can the court pass impartial judgment on that law’s constitutionality, a task it has recently taken up? Haviv Rettig Gur analyzes the speech, and observes a new approach emerging in Israel’s public conversation:

The political right no longer thinks it can ram any constitutional change it wants through the Knesset along narrow partisan lines. Or at least a great deal of it has become convinced of that. . . . A negotiated compromise on the overhaul is unlikely. Far-right factions that hold the deciding vote in the coalition can’t concede the minimum that opposition factions would need to sell any agreement to their voters. Nor does Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu command enough basic trust among opposition parties, including rightist ones that hunger for a compromise, to allow the latter to enter into politically risky negotiations.

Rothman’s speech was emphatically the bellicose cry of defiance that everyone heard. But contained within it was also, in the quiet fashion of a political pivot trying to avoid calling attention to itself, an acquiescence to political realities and a tentative signal of a new way forward. The court could not be expected to “join the effort” of the radical overhaul proposed back in January. . . . But it could be called upon to join in a new kind of effort, the kind Rothman and Speaker of the Knesset Amir Ohana, and conservative commentators, seem to be hesitantly circling.

Rothman leveled a good and vital question at Israel’s justices last week. “Can you be the ones who judge on this question, without fear or favor, without being biased by the fact that you’re dealing with your own dignity, your own standing, your own authority? It’s clear to me that you believe you’re acting appropriately, but if you become the final arbiter of this question too, where are the checks? Where are the balances?”

Critics of the overhaul have been leveling that very question at Rothman himself, at the slim Knesset majority that claimed it was restoring checks and balances while concentrating nearly all power in a narrow parliamentary coalition dependent on the most radical fringes of Israeli politics.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Israeli democracy, Israeli Judicial Reform, Israeli politics


Ordinary Gazans Are Turning against Hamas—and Its Western Sympathizers

In the past few days, difficult-to-confirm reports have emerged of unrest in the Gaza Strip, and of civilians throwing stones at Hamas operatives. A recent video from Al Jazeera showed a Gazan declaring that “God will bring Qatar and Turkey to account” for the suffering of Palestinians in the current war. Being an agent of the Qatari government, the journalist turned away, and then pushed the interviewee with his hand to prevent him from getting near the microphone. Yet this brief exchange contributes much to the ongoing debate about Palestinian support for Hamas, and belies the frequent assertion by experts that the Israeli campaign is only “further radicalizing” the population.

For some time, Joseph Braude has worked with a number of journalists and researchers to interview ordinary Gazans under circumstances where they don’t fear reprisals. He notes that the sorts of opinions they share are rarely heard in Western media, let alone on Al Jazeera or Iran-sponsored outlets:

[A] resident of Khan Younis describes how locals in a bakery spontaneously attacked a Hamas member who had come to buy bread. The incident, hardly imaginable before the present war, reflects a widespread feeling of “disgust,” he says, after Gazan aspirations for “a dignified life and to live in peace” were set back by the Hamas atrocities of October 7.

Fears have grown that this misery will needlessly be prolonged by Westerners who strive, in effect, to perpetuate Hamas rule, according to one Gazan woman. Addressing protesters who have taken to the streets to demand a ceasefire on behalf of Palestinians, she calls on them to make a choice: “Either support the Palestinian people or the Hamas regime that oppresses them.” If protesters harbor a humanitarian motive, she asks, “Why don’t we see them demonstrating against Hamas?”

“Hamas is the destruction of the Palestinian people. We’ve had enough. They need to be wiped out—because if they remain, the people will be wiped out.”

You can watch videos of some of the interviews by clicking the link below.

Read more at Free Press

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Palestinian public opinion