Hamas War

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Israel's Political System and Judicial Reform-- What's Going On?

I almost titled this post "Israeli Judicial Reform for Dummies," but didn't want to antagonize people. Also the topic is no joke. This is serious stuff, and it's complicated

Oy. Where should I start?

Let's start with the Israeli political system, which may be unique; though others may be similar in some ways. Let the adjectives used here be different or unique. I don't want any judgmental ones like better and worse. It doesn't pay to go there, since there is no country like the State of Israel in size, history, sociology, security needs etc. Being a democracy, Israel has developed into the country we know today, and in most ways it actually works well. 

Israel is a Parliamentary Democracy. Our parliament, called the Knesset, has one hundred and twenty 120 members. There are many political parties represented in the Knesset, and certainly even more that didn't get enough votes to be included. Now a party needs 4.5% of the votes, called the Electoral Threshold, to get any of their list in.

Each political party submits a list to election board by a certain date, and it's according to the order on the list that people become Members of Knesset. After the votes are counted, the failed parties subtracted and the numbers of MKs per party calculated, the President of the State of Israel then calls the leader #1 of the largest party and offers him/her to chance to form a coalition.

OK, I know that some of you are jumping in your seats trying to get my attention and ask why we have so many political parties. I'll start with a joke:

"two Jews five opinions"

OK, some say only three opinions, but Israeli society is too complex --remember that Israeli Arabs also vote and have a few political parties-- for two political parties to suffice. The political/social spectrum isn't a simple right/left. It also includes religious observance and many other factors. 

The Knesset reflects Israeli diversity, and that diversity isn't reflected at all in the High Court. The democratically elected MKs do not have a say in who sits as a justice on that court. The justices vote in their replacements, and they choose very carefully to find people who follow their ideology, which is far to the Left of the Israeli population. In recent years they have been making legal decisions that go against laws voted in by the elected MKs. That's not democracy. 

The justices don't base their decision on laws. They base their decisions on their political ideology, which is what they treasure and want to preserve. They call it "judicial independence." It's davka that "independence" which endangers Israeli democracy. 

Justice Minister Yariv Levin's plan will reduce the power of the High Court in a number of ways. I'm not getting into the details of the laws he proposes. You can click Judicial Reform for the details. I just wanted to show that reform is needed. 

Nobody has the right to play god, not even High Court justices. 

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Rosh Chodesh Shevat ראש חודש שבט תפילת נשים Women's Prayers

Rosh Chodesh Shevat is rapidly approaching. So here's the reminder that we'll have Women's Prayer at Shiloh Hakeduma-- Tel Shiloh
Monday January 23, 2023
1st of Shevat 5783

תפילת נשים בראש חודש שבט
בשילה הקדומה 
יום ב' 23\01\2023
א' שבט תשפ"ג

Shiloh Hakeduma is just off of the Shiloh Junction and can be reached by car or bus. For more information about all of the activities there for people of all ages, contact 025789111, visit@telshilo.org.il or the facebook page.

Monday, January 2, 2023

The Likud's Time Bomb


It's very deja vu hearing all of the complaints frustrations from veteran, loyal Likud MKs once they recognize that yet again there are hardly any senior positions remaining for them. Those who've worked hard and shown their loyalty to Binyamin Bibi Netanyahu and the Likud, some for decades, have had to accept low-ranking or made-up positions, or none at all, as the good stuff has not only gone to coalition partners but also new and relatively inexperienced Likud MKs. At the same time they're not getting any younger. OK, they're not as old as the newly crowned King Charles of England who's barely a year older than Bibi himself.

Charles always knew that as long as he outlived his mother he'd get the crown, but it's not so simple in politics.

Please look at that chart above, which I copied from Wikipedia. Party leadership usually lasts about a decade. OK, yes, I know that Menachem Begin had been a party leader much longer, first Cherut, then GaHa"L and then finally a decade in the Likud. But the Likud party was cobbled together for the 1973/4 elections, and four years later was Begin's first victory and term as Prime Minister. He resigned/retired in 1983 and was replaced by Yitzchak Shamir who was party head for ten years, and then Netanyahu took over. 

Besides the six years of Arik Sharon seriously marred by his notorious Disengagement Plan, for most of that time and until today Binyamin Bibi Netanyahu has been leader of the Likud and Prime Minister of Israel. He was young when he took over the party, all of fourty-four 44 in October of 1993, and now there are many, many talented and aging Likud MKs younger and waiting in the wings for their chance to head the party. It doesn't look like they'll ever get the opportunity. Instead of competing against each other for leadership, there's Bibi holding onto those reins. He first grabbed them when they were still in school.

Anger and frustration are bubbling close to the surface. And it's not healthy for the party to have one leader for thirty years. It reminds me of, if you'll excuse the expression, dictatorships.  OK, I said it. What do you think?