Bart Eckott is the lead commentator.
A wonderful scene is unfolding in Israel. For weeks, demonstrations with hundreds of thousands of participants have been taking place across the country. The protest does not subside, on the contrary. The unions called for a general strike, which almost paralyzed public life. Extraordinary voices also join the resistance, such as businessmen, military reservists, and even the already deposed Minister of Defense. Like a frightened old patriarch from a Jewish narrative, the instigator of the protest, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, must go into hiding. He is caught between conflicting pressures from too much of his own people and from his extremist coalition partners.
The use of force measurement is not small. It is nothing less than the continued existence of Israel as a democratic state under the rule of law. This sounds bloated, but for once big words are appropriate. To return to power, Netanyahu struck a diabolical pact with some extremist and far-right parties. They vow to take over the entire West Bank, cutting off LGTBQ people’s rights and equal opportunities for women and ethnic minorities. But it is the plan to limit the role of the Supreme Court that essentially breaks down the rule of law. Reform is now on hold, but if the Netanyahu government succeeds in this, there will no longer be a judiciary to balance the government’s power.
This is more than just a theoretical discussion. The reason for Netanyahu and his extremist followers targeting the Supreme Court is twofold, one interpretation more problematic than the other. The prime minister himself wants to avoid prosecution in ongoing corruption cases through constitutional reform. His associates want the court to stop thwarting their racist and violent colonial policies. The court plays an important moderating role in the country, among other things to keep policy towards the Palestinian population consistent. If this protection is lost, the Israeli-Palestinian powder chamber threatens to explode again.
This important issue is also relevant to the prevailing political debate in our country. Here, too, dubious concepts like “the sovereign will of the people” emerge and there are, admittedly, limited ideas (with the N-VA) of giving the House of Representatives the right to overturn Constitutional Court rulings by means. From “People’s Appeal”. Israel is now clearly showing that there is no such thing as a unified will of the people. Because who actually explains that popular will? Hundreds of thousands take to the streets every day, or the parliamentary majority backed by extremists?
Those who invoke the “popular will” actually want to give the majority unfettered and arbitrary power to decide on rights that protect the minority. Israel is showing how dangerous this can be, just as countries like Russia, Turkey or Hungary did before. Here the discussion remains for the time being only theoretical and principled. Let’s stay that way.
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