The battle rages in Israel between the left that lost the elections and the new right-wing government. Thousands of Israelis took to the streets last Saturday evening to protest plans by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new government whose opponents say threaten democracy and freedoms.
The protesters gathered in the central city of Tel Aviv days after the right-wing and religiously conservative government was sworn in.
“The settler government is against me,” read one placard. Another banner read, “Housing, Livelihood, Hope.” Some protesters carried rainbow flags.
The protest was led by left-wing and Arab members of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset. They contend that proposed plans by the new Cabinet will hinder the judicial system and widen societal gaps.
The left-wing protesters slammed Justice Minister Yariv Levin, who recently unveiled the government’s long-promised overhaul of the judicial system that aims to weaken the country’s Supreme Court.
Critics accused the government of declaring war on the legal system, saying the plan will up-end Israel’s system of checks and balances and undermine its democratic institutions by giving absolute power to the new governing coalition.
Yair Lapid, the former prime minister and head of the opposition, said he would fight the changes “in every possible way” and vowed to cancel them if he returns to power. “Those who carry out a unilateral coup in Israel need to know that we are not obligated to it in any way whatsoever,” he said.
What has triggered this battle is the left’s objections to what they claim is a combination of the government’s proposed laws against LGBTQ rights, its plan to overhaul the law enforcement and education systems, and, most prominently, its proposals for “reform” of the judiciary.
However, democracy is not threatened if an elected body sets the rules to void a law that a majority of judges believe offends a Basic Law. Should a mere 8 or 11 Supreme Court judges invalidate a Knesset law? This is what the government wants to refute since these laws are legislative judgments and not judicial prerogatives.
Newly-appointed Justice Minister Levin’s proposed law would make several other reasonable changes affecting the membership and power of Israel’s judiciary, but not removing their power completely.
Levin and the Knesset’s Chair Rothman have stated they intend to make reforms in the Israeli judicial system, mainly in the authority of the Supreme Court. Read more about the suggested reforms here – Click. The left and Arab parties are protesting against the new government every Saturday in Tel Aviv.
These protests are organized and financed by left-wing organizations such as Standing Together, the New Fund for Israel, and Breaking the Silence all of which oppose Israel being God’s Land and a Jewish State. They claim that Israel should be the state of ALL its citizens, not just Jews and that this government is promoting “racist” and “dictatorial policies.” The left is declaring a “struggle for democracy.”
The Saturday protests also include a smaller, more radical group of Israeli anti-Zionists and pro-Palestinians who hold banners and signs against Israeli ‘apartheid’ and ‘colonialism,’ as well as Palestinian flags.
Last week National Security Minister Ben Gvir instructed the police commissioner to ban the Palestinian flag in public and called for more drastic measures against future demonstrations. Gvir’s measures have incited more people, even leaders from nearly every political party in the opposition, to commit to a similar demonstration expected shortly.
We are thankful to the Lord that there was not one incident of violence in these protests. Please pray that peaceful protests will continue to be peaceful.