The Bulgarian Politician Trying to Rally Europe against Hizballah

While Hizballah has for four decades successfully terrorized civilian populations on at least three continents, European states have proved painfully slow to designate it a terrorist group, let alone impose sanctions and other law-enforcement measures. Both the EU itself and France only applied the designation in 2013, but still hold fast to a fictitious distinction between the group’s terrorist “military wing” and its supposedly legitimate “political wing.” Nonetheless, the continent has begun to acknowledge the dangers of Iran’s Lebanon-based proxy, and last year six Central European states banned Hizballah completely. Much credit, writes Alex Benjamin, is due to Tsvetan Tsvetanov, the former deputy prime minister of Bulgaria:

[I]n 2012 a man boarded a bus full of Israeli tourists near Burgas, Bulgaria and detonated a bomb—killing the Bulgarian bus driver and five Israeli tourists. The blast injured 35 more. Serving as Bulgaria’s interior minister at the time, Tsvetanov was tasked with investigating the attack. Working through Europol, Tsvetanov’s probe quickly revealed that Hizballah, without any shadow of doubt, was behind the bombing. The culprit known, Tsvetanov then led a campaign urging all countries to recognize, without equivocation, that Hizballah murdered those six civilians on European soil.

Some EU member states, perhaps, feared retribution for acknowledging the truth. Others, maybe, feared retaliation from one of Hizballah’s allies, [especially that] perennial thorn in the EU’s side, Russia.

During his time in government, Tsvetanov learned the value of transatlantic partnership and the importance of Israel’s security in a world where so many nefarious forces instead focus on finding creative ways to threaten that country and its citizens.

With the golden opportunity presented by the Biden administration’s stated aim of reengaging with its European allies, now is exactly the right time for Tsvetanov’s seeds, planted back in 2012, to come into full bloom. Brussels, we are waiting.

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Bulgaria, European Union, Hizballah

Reforms to Israel’s Judiciary Must Be Carefully Calibrated

The central topic of debate in Israel now is the new coalition government’s proposed reforms of the nation’s judiciary and unwritten constitution. Peter Berkowitz agrees that reform is necessary, but that “the proper scope and pace of reform, however, are open to debate and must be carefully calibrated.”

In particular, Berkowitz argues,

to preserve political cohesiveness, substantial changes to the structure of the Israeli regime must earn support that extends beyond these partisan divisions.

In a deft analysis of the conservative spirit in Israel, bestselling author Micah Goodman warns in the Hebrew language newspaper Makor Rishon that unintended consequences flowing from the constitutional counterrevolution are likely to intensify political instability. When a center-left coalition returns to power, Goodman points out, it may well repeal through a simple majority vote the major changes Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition seeks to enact. Or it may use the legislature’s expanded powers, say, to ram through laws that impair the religious liberty of the ultra-Orthodox. Either way, in a torn nation, constitutional counterrevolution amplifies division.

Conservatives make a compelling case that balance must be restored to the separation of powers in Israel. A prudent concern for the need to harmonize Israel’s free, democratic, and Jewish character counsels deliberation in the pursuit of necessary constitutional reform.

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Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli Judicial Reform