More than 80,000 people took to the streets in several Israeli cities to demonstrate against the reform of the judicial system proposed by the new government of Benjamin Netanyahu.
Opponents of this bill are not just ordinary citizens. Among them are the deans of several law schools in Israel and former prosecutors. Everyone fears that the Israeli democratic system will drift towards Hungarian-style militancy or even towards a religious totalitarian system.
Netanyahu is proposing a reform of the judicial system where Knesset lawmakers could, by a simple majority, overturn any Supreme Court decision.
Such a law would indeed be undemocratic, whatever Netanyahu and the gang of religious fanatics he has allied with to seize power think.
In a democracy, the balance of power requires that the judicial system be independent. However, when elected officials can overrule court decisions by a simple vote, the judiciary subordinates to the legislative power.
As if that weren’t enough, Netanyahu is also proposing to make the appointments of Supreme Court judges more political.
The crisis Israel is sinking into stems from three well-known problems.
First, the proportional voting system confers immense power on certain minorities, in this case the ultra-Orthodox minority. Contrary to the theories of the advocates of proportional representation, this minority refuses to compromise.
Second, Netanyahu is threatened with various corruption cases. The judicial reform he is proposing could allow his political coalition to overturn a Supreme Court decision against him.
Third, the ultra-Orthodox Jewish population in Israel is growing rapidly. They are projected to make up 16% of the population in 2030 and around 30% of that after 2060. Currently it is more than 1.2 million, while other Jews number 6.3 million and Arab Israelis 2 million.
Medieval and totalitarian
Ultra-Orthodox Jews generally have very little training in science or social sciences. They are prisoners of a medieval and totalitarian mental universe.
That is why their positions on Arabs, on Iran, on sexual minorities or on religious practices are radical and extreme. And they vote en bloc behind the ultra-Orthodox lawmakers who plan to impose these radical and extreme views on all of Israeli society.
The rise of religious fundamentalists is a well-known problem in the Arab world. It is also visible in the United States or even in Russia, where Vladimir Putin leans on a fundamentalist branch of the Orthodox Church.
The scenario is the same everywhere. Religious fundamentalists use the weaknesses of the political system in which they reside to spread their religious poison. The ultimate goal is always to take power in the name of God.