By Patricia Adams and Lawrence Solomon

Israel’s accelerating democracy

Following the greatest repudiation of the left in Israeli history, right-wing lawmakers are aggressively honoring their election promises.

By Patricia Adams and Lawrence Solomon, published by The Epoch Times

With the formation of Israel’s new government last month, an amalgam of Benjamin Netanyahu’s conservative Likud Party and six small religious parties, many fear that the country will become less democratic, even theocratic.

Those fears are misplaced, despite Israel’s proportional representation electoral system, which gives the small parties outsized leverage in determining policies affecting the entire population. The new government is not only unambiguously non-woke and more nationalistic than the previous left-of-center government, but its proposed policies also tend more to free markets, more to classical liberalism, and more to democracy than those of any previous Israeli government.

The continuation of free-market policies is nothing new in Israel, despite its past membership in the Socialist Internationale. Netanyahu began his dismantling of the managerial state’s stranglehold over Israel’s economy in the 1990s, giving rise to entrepreneurship and the country’s reputation as the Start-up Nation.

But now the free-market reforms are also being initiated by the religious parties, rather than just the secular Likud. “I will pursue a broad free-market policy,” Bezalel Smotrich, the Religious Zionism party chairman, wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed on the eve of his appointment as Israel’s new finance minister. “This includes removing the government price controls and import restrictions that have limited competition and kept consumer prices high, as well as regulatory reforms and a loosening of bureaucratic control over small businesses. Inspired by U.S. right-to-work laws, we will pursue similar measures to reduce union control in Israel’s labor force.”

Smotrich’s first act as finance minister was to abolish a punitive tax on disposables, which the previous left-leaning government imposed on climate change and other environmental rationales. Other ministers announced that Israel would be shutting down its public broadcasting news channel and completing plans to privatize its post office.

While the religious parties share Netanyahu’s desire for a free market, they outdo him in making a priority of democratic reforms and the rule of law. Nowhere is this clearer than in the religious parties’ insistence on reform of Israel’s Supreme Court. Unlike the procedure in western countries where the governments of the day decide who will sit on their supreme courts, in Israel the Supreme Court has perpetuated itself and its leftist bent through a process that dismisses the preferences of elected leaders. The court has given itself a veto over the appointment of any new members whose ideology, legal philosophy, or judicial temperament offends it, leading to an autocratic, activist judiciary operating in an echo chamber that has arbitrarily overruled laws on a legal justification it invented called “reasonableness.”

Netanyahu backs curbing the court’s aberrant powers, saying “The truth is that the balance between the branches of government has been violated over the past two decades. This unusual phenomenon does not exist anywhere else in the world—not in the United States, not in Western Europe, and not during Israel’s first 50 years of existence.”

Religious parties are also determined to allow freedom of religion throughout Israel, including at the Temple Mount, consistent with references to the Temple in the Book of Isaiah in the Old Testament and Jesus in the New Testament, which say “my house will be a house of prayer for all nations.” Unlike the practice in western democracies, which forbid discrimination on the basis of religion, in Israel the police bar Jews and Christians, but not Muslims, from praying on the Temple Mount, the holiest site for Jews, the hallowed ground where Christ confronted the money changers, and the third holiest site for Muslims. Under the new government’s proposals, Muslims, Christians, and Jews will all be free to worship where and how they choose.

These reforms and others have led to condemnations around the world. The United Nations Security Council was called into session to condemn an Israeli minister who visited the Temple Mount, in sync with the United States and European countries that declared their opposition to any reforms that would give Jews equal access to the Temple Mount.

The most extreme condemnations have come from the Israeli left. Now that the Israeli government is fulfilling the promises that led to its election victory—the greatest repudiation of the left by the electorate in history—a retired Supreme Court President claimed the reforms were “suffocating Israeli democracy,” likening them to “a revolution of tanks.” The chairman of the Israeli Bar Association claimed “that the State of Israel is on the fast track to becoming a dictatorship.” The outgoing prime minister fumed that “This isn’t judicial reform, this is extreme regime change, this is canceling the Declaration of Independence, this is cutting Israel off from the family of liberal countries.” Rallies organized by the left waved banners charging the new government with having orchestrated “a coup d’etat.”

If the new government has orchestrated a coup, it has been directed against those who managed for decades to usurp power that Israel’s founders never intended, and whose sense of entitlement to power knows no bounds. The “coup” certainly wasn’t directed against the citizenry who expressed their will at the ballot box.

Read the original article in full at the publisher’s website here

Patricia Adams and Lawrence Solomon are directors at the Toronto-based Probe International.


Follow: @LSolomonTweets

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