Into the fray: D-Y-S-T-O-P-I-A!!

July 19, 2023 by Martin Sherman
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The opponents of the proposed judicial reform are not defending liberal democracy, but promoting Orwellian dystopia.

Deceivers are the most dangerous members of society. They trifle with the best affections of our nature, and violate the most sacred obligations—George Crabbe, English poet, surgeon & clergyman (1754-1832).

When one with honeyed words but evil mind; Persuades the mob, great woes befall the state― Euripides, Ancient Greek playwright & poet (c. 480 – c. 406 BC).

Martin Sherman

As the Machiavellian demonstrations, malevolently crafted and mendaciously choreographed, rage across the country, one thing is becoming ominously clear. The bellows of “DEMOKRATIA” by the protesters are being increasingly exposed as being just as hollow and hypocritical as they are absurd and artificial.

Indeed, virtually every aspect of their vociferous grievances can be shown to be either entirely false, totally self-contradictory, or an unadulterated non-sequitur—or a combination of any or all of the above.

Enhancing democracy

Take, for example, the claim that, somehow. the reform proposal, according to which judicial appointments should be made by elected politicians rather than appointed jurists imperils Israel’s democracy. The only thing more bewildering than the actual claim itself is that the coalition has not been able to repudiate it forthwith. For, not only have the opponents of the reform never presented a cogent logical chain of cause and effect showing how the proposed measures will advance dictatorship/endanger democracy, but their allegation is patently illogical.

After all, the reform’s proposal that decisions should be transferred from unelected, unaccountable forums to elected, accountable forums is perhaps the epitome of enhanced democracy, making the accusation that the measure is somehow “undemocratic” manifestly ridiculous.

Similarly, the claim that if politicians appoint judges, the judges will be subject to the will of their appointors, withers and shrivels in light of recalcitrant realities. After all, it was two government appointees, Attorney-General Avichai Mendelblit and Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh, who were the leading figures in concocting the contrived indictments against the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu—an inconvenient fact that blatantly contradicts their professed concern…and somehow never emerges in the public debate.

Minority “rights” trump majority decisions?

Indeed, opponents of the reforms have a curiously perverse view of democracy, seemingly believing that because, in democracy, there is place for preserving minority rights, these should take precedence over majority decisions. After all, whatever one’s opinion of the reforms, they are more procedural than substantive in that they do not impinge in any partisan way on the rights of any political or ethnic faction. Any benefits, which they purportedly bestow on the election winners, would accrue to the reform’s opponents—if they could win the elections by persuading voters of the merits of their case. However, apparently, they do not really believe that this is a feasible prospect—and hence their almost apoplectic response.

Accordingly, it is not that the reform proposal infringes substantively on the rights of any minority, as a minority, but merely that the opposition minority disapproves of the measures it comprises. Thus, they cannot legitimately claim that they are defending “minority rights”. To the contrary. They are endeavouring to impose minority preferences on a democratically elected majority and impede the implementation of policy formulated by a majority coalition with which they disagree—something that, in and of itself, is a blatant and brazen contravention of democratic norms.

Selective concern

Moreover, the concern of reform’s opponents for democratic governance seems highly selective—further undermining their waning credibility.

Thus, when the previous Bennett-Lapid coalition was spawned by what is easily the most shameful—and shameless—violation of all the hitherto accepted norms of democratic procedures, nary a peep of protest was sounded by those, who today purport to be the “guardians of democracy”. Somehow, they managed to ignore that this was a coalition headed by a prime minister, who:

– won barely 5% of the overall vote,

  • brazenly betrayed his supporters, breaking his pledge to them on the very eve of the elections,
  • formed a government dependent on the approval of the Islamist Shura Council and the support of Muslim Brotherhood affiliate, Ra’am, which Bennett’s Yamina faction tried to disqualify from taking part in the elections on the grounds that its members supported terror!!!

Nor did they express any concern at the fact that in the last days of his incumbency, then-substitute Prime Minister Yair Lapid bypassed Knesset approval and hurriedly pushed through a decision with long-term strategic implications, yielding Israeli claims to potentially rich marine gas fields to Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon. Significantly, the reasons proffered for the unbecoming haste in making the decision was that it would pacify Hezbollah–an argument that was swiftly exposed as false. Indeed, today an increasingly aggressive Hezbollah is, unsurprisingly, spoiling for a fight,  shortly after the ill-considered concessions were made —raising troubling thoughts as to the prudence of  Lapid’s move and his real motivations in making it.

From “poodle” to “rottweiler”

Significantly, the agreement was given the stamp of approval by the Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara, who miraculously metamorphosis from a “docile poodle”, catering to every whim of the previous government, to a ferocious rottweiler opposing virtually every initiative by the current one.

Indeed, perhaps one of the most perverse aspects of the Opposition leader, Yair Lapid’s criticism of the reforms is that they have the support of the Ultra-Orthodox factions, whose members he berates for not serving in the IDF—when Lapid himself has proved incapable of giving a credible account of where he served in the military—which certainly was not in any hazardous combat capacity. Again, this is something rarely raised in the public debate.

But no less devious and deceptive is the terminology adopted. Thus, the reform opponents have rejected the term “reform” and labelled the coalition’s judicial initiative a “revolution”—as if policy adopted by a duly democratically-elected government can be termed a “revolution”, a term usually reserved for a challenge to an incumbent government.

A sense of entitlement, not patriotism

But perhaps the adoption of the word “revolution” is revealing, exposing—inadvertently—the underlying motivation of the leaders of the opposition to the reform initiative. For it seems to indicate—much in line with the self-laudatory laurels with which they continuously anoint themselves—that they believe that they are the truly ordained leaders of the country, and the incumbent government is merely a motley collection of impudent usurpers, swept to unmerited positions of power by unworthy “plebs”. Accordingly, it is more than likely that they see the reform as a move to diminish the stature of their true source of power, the judiciary, that hitherto has offset their failure at the ballot box and allowed their credo to dominate much of the decision-making in the country. Thus, in their eyes, the judicial reform is a challenge to the established order and to the true ruling class—hence a “revolution”.

It is thus a sense of entitlement, not of patriotism that drives the demonstrations. It reflects a selective loyalty to Israel, in which borderline sedition, purposefully undermining the nation’s security, economy and international standing is preferable to accepting the victory of political rivals.

“Dystopia!”: A countervailing battle cry

The opponents of the current coalition have created a dystopian reality in Israel, where, like in the Orwellian Newspeak, language is manipulated and distorted to serve the goals of the leadership. Thus, words take on meaning antithetically opposite to their commonly used sense. In Orwell’s 1984 dystopia, “war” was “peace”; “freedom” was “slavery” and so on.  In the emerging Israeli dystopia, “dictatorship” is “democracy”; “revolution” is “elected government policy”; “entitlement” is “patriotism”; and “sedition” is “loyalty”.

It, thus, should be clear that the opponents of the proposed judicial reform are not defending liberal democracy—but promoting Orwellian dystopia.

Paradoxically, it is this grim reality that provides the coalition and its supporters a tool to counter the misplaced cries of D-E-M-O-K-R-T-I-A. They should respond with a countervailing call: STOP DYSTOPIA!

DrMartin Sherman spent seven years in operational capacities in the Israeli defense establishment. He is the founder of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), a member of the Habithonistim-Israel Defense & Security Forum (IDSF)research team, and a participant in the Israel Victory Project


One Response to “Into the fray: D-Y-S-T-O-P-I-A!!”
  1. Liat Kirby says:

    This does not speak to the issue of how best to protect Israeli citizens against the misuse and abuse of power, which, if the government has its way, will be a very real problem, relying inherently on the integrity of Knesset governing members. That there is no Constitution and no Bill of Rights, nothing that in very specific terms defines a citizen’s status, makes what Netanyahu and his cohorts are trying to do with the judiciary dangerous.
    There is the added problem of a more religious-bound state, with small ultra-orthodox parties having sway, thereby pushing Israel towards theocracy and the likes of Iran, et al, with pluralism and tolerance for difference taking a back seat. Again, very dangerous.

    No amount of dramatic hyperbole, as we see in Dr Martin Sherman’s comments, changes this, and he does us a disservice in presenting this kind of material in all seriousness.

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