Friday, March 15, 2019

The Judicial Dictatorship in Israel, is not Democracy

I’ve been speaking out about the need for judicial reform in Israel, for over thirty years. So, when I saw what Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked has been doing in the last couple of years, I was mildly pleased. It didn’t go far enough for my taste, but “Liat Liat,” little by little, is better than nothing at all.
Why does Israel need judicial reform?
With Purim and elections coming up, National Union Chairman MK Bezalel Smotrich has recently unmasked the Judicial Dictators in the Supreme Court for what they are, a largely self-appointed leftist elite, that looks down on the simple Jews of Israel and their well being, more often siding with Arab terrorists and their political supporters, than with their Jewish victims. We can now also clearly see the disdain they hold for the other branch of government, the legislature, the Knesset and Knesset members, who are popularly elected by the public, as should be in a democracy, unlike the self-appointed Judiciary.
On March 6, the Central Elections Committee narrowly rejected the complaints against Otzma Yehudit’s Knesset run by a vote of 16 to 15. Afterword, left-wing and Arab MKs filed an appeal against the candidacies of Dr. Michael Ben-Ari and Adv. Itamar Ben-Gvir of Otzma Yehudit, with the Supreme Court.
During that Supreme Court hearing, a representative from the State Prosecutor’s Office, urged Ben-Ari’s disqualification. Ben-Ari, has faced multiple attempts from the left, to outlaw his candidacy under Article 7A of the “Basic Law: The Knesset,” which lists “incitement to racism” as one of three actions that disqualify a candidate from running for the Knesset. Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit urged the court to bar him, because in his opinion, Ben-Ari has a long history of “severe and extreme” racism.
At the time, when the Elections Committee voted to let them run, Justice Uzi Fogelman criticized Ben-Ari, pointing out a rally he led in the northern town of Afula, against a tender that was open for all its residents, including Israeli Arabs. Ben-Ari claimed during the protest that the tender “has been opened to the enemy as a form of equal rights.” “That sentence is crystal clear,” Fogelman said, implying racist intentions of Ben-Ari.
Other Judges, earlier, in May 2018, cited remarks about Arabs made by Ben-Ari on another occasion. Ben-Ari said, “We need to call it as it is, they are our enemy, they want to annihilate us. Of course there are loyal Arabs, but they can be counted as one percent and less than that. Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of them are full partners to their brothers in Gaza.”
Ben-Ari’s lawyer, Yitzhak Bam, responded that his client had “no problem” with Israeli Arab citizens who are loyal to the State of Israel as the state of the Jewish people, as enshrined in “Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People.” Justice Yitzhak Amit asked Bam if 99% of Israeli Arabs are considered “enemies,” if they don’t identify with that viewpoint. Ben-Ari’s attorney confirmed, “That’s the logic.” Bam added, that it was hard to know the true number today, since “anyone who expresses those views [support for Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People] is ostracized, condemned,” or even attacked.
During that recent Supreme Court hearing, a bitter exchange developed between Chief Justice Esther Hayut and MK Smotrich. After Hayut rebuked MK Smotrich, “Don’t shout here, this isn’t the Knesset.” Smotrich replied.,”Don’t belittle the legislature and don’t disrespect Knesset Members.” Hayut then replied to Smotrich, “This isn’t the Knesset, there are different legal procedures here.” Smotrich replied, “I’m happy for the clarification.” Hayut then commented, “I don't need to clarify anything for you.” Smotrich then responded to her, “Don’t belittle the Knesset and the public.”
Something that happens regularly by Israel’s Supreme Court overlords.
Subsequently, Hayut also chastised MK Stav Shafir of the Labor Party, who tried to speak: “You won’t speak here, this isn’t the Knesset. At this point, Justice Fogelman joined Chief Justice Hayut saying, “This isn’t anarchy here; what you’re doing here is unprecedented, the politicians will not speak here.”
Thus showing their utter disdain for the legislative branch, regardless of party affiliation. And let’s not forget that Fogelman has already publicly voiced his opinions about Ben-Ari. Shouldn’t he have disqualified himself from the hearing?
Later MK Smotrich told the media, “You needed to be here to see the disgusting contempt, and condescending attitude of the judges, towards the Knesset Members present here in the hearing, from both sides of the political fence. They simply despise us and what we represent.”
Representative Democracy or Judicial Tyranny?
Smotrich continued, “What’s under discussion here is the very composition of the Knesset in the next term, and involvement of Knesset Members in this debate is the most legitimate thing in the world. It’s also legitimate for the judges to decide not to let MKs talk, so as not to turn the debate into a political election platform, but there’s a way to relate to a Knesset member while they're in the middle of a sentence. They wouldn’t treat someone like that, if they had a modicum of respect. And that’s nothing new."
Then, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked spoke out for the first time, about the attempt to the disqualify Ben-Ari from running for the Knesset. “I hope very much that the Supreme Court will not intervene in Israeli democracy and will uphold the decision of the Elections Committee. Michael Ben-Ari was already a member of the Knesset, and the sky did not fall. Arab MKs who do not believe in the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state are already in office.”
Let’s look at “Basic Law: The Knesset.”
It allows the Elections Committee to bar parties from participating in elections that, 1. Negate the existence of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, 2. Made incitements to racism, or 3. Supported the armed struggle of an enemy state or terrorist organization against the state of Israel.
Many Israeli Arab citizens and their political representatives, the Arab political parties, therefore should be banned from running, under sections 1 and 3. Shouldn’t the law be applied equally in a democracy?
Notice, even Netanyahu knows the truth. In 2018, PM Netanyahu met with South Tel Aviv anti-illegal immigration activists, representing the Jewish population of South Tel Aviv, suffering from the meteoric rise of crime, from illegal African infiltrators living there. Netanyahu questioned one of the activists what caused him to join the campaign to expel the illegal Africans, David said that he began his political activism out of shock at the way the Supreme Court handled the petition against the 2005 Gaza Disengagement Plan. Netanyahu smiled as he said: “You expected justice from the courts? That is the last place to seek justice.”
How are judges picked in Israel? Does the citizenry vote for them as in the US. Few would claim that America is not a democracy.
According to “Basic Law: the Judiciary,” the Judicial Selection Committee has nine members. The committee is made up as follows: Justice Minister – Chairman, another Cabinet Minister, chosen by the Cabinet. Two Knesset Members, chosen by the Knesset. Two members of the Bar Association (Usually selected by the two largest factions in the association).The Chief Justice, and two other justices of the Supreme Court (replaced every three years, the selection is usually by seniority). The committee’s decision to appoint a judge in all lower courts, is passed by a simple majority of members present at the meeting.
Notice the inside deal, three Supreme Court Justices, and two lawyers from the bar (people who probably aspire to be appointed as a judge), who have an automatic majority on the committee.
And who appoints Israeli Supreme Court Justices? In America, the President nominates them, and the citizens' elected representatives, the Senate, vote to confirm them or reject them.
But in Israel, the rules for appointing Supreme Court judges, really aren’t much better than for appointing lower court judges. It requires a majority of 7 of the 9 committee members, or two less than the number present at the meeting (6 of 8, 5 of 7, etc.).
Notice, the elite clique of Supreme Court judges and lawyer wannabes, already make up five votes. As I said, self-appointing elites, who veer to the left and hold everyone else in disdain.
One last example of Judicial Dictatorship, it occurred in 2017, when Supreme Court Chief Justice Miriam Naor bullyed Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked. Naor made a veiled threat in a letter to Shaked, that she would petition the court against Shaked if Shaked delayed convening the Judicial Selection Committee, which was supposed to announce the appointment of Esther Hayut as the next Chief Justice. Naor said, “the minister should use her authority to establish the schedule only in a true and professional manner. Apparently the only reason to delay the meeting of the committee is that we have not succeeded in getting to an agreement regarding the identity of the two Supreme Court judges, to be appointed in place of [retiring justices] Danziger and Shoham.”
This problem wouldn’t exist, if the Chief Justice, or other justices on the Supreme Court, weren't involved with choosing their own colleagues. Judicial Cronyism and with it, Judicial Tyranny in Israel must end. Israel desperately needs reform of the judicial selection process, if it wants to end the Judicial Dictatorship, and have a true democracy.

In the end, the Supreme Court decided to disqualify Doctor Michael Ben-Ari of the Otzma Yehudit Party from running in the Knesset. In response, the Knesset Speaker, Yuli Edelstein said, that was “a serious mistake and the entire public will pay dearly for it.” He continued, “[The Arab] Balad party, that denies the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish state, has no place in the Israeli Knesset.” Referring to Hadash [communist] leader Ofer Cassif, he said, “One who legitimizes harm to IDF soldiers doesn’t either. We will continue to struggle against provocative anti-Zionist elements [I might add treasonous] in the 21st Knesset as well.”

Chairman Rafi Peretz of the Union of Right-Winged Parties also criticized the Supreme Court for disqualifying Dr. Michael Ben-Ari’s candidacy for the Knesset race. Rabbi Peretz said, “In the State of Israel there is [only] a democracy in appearance. The judiciary has taken the right to choose for Israeli citizens in an unprecedented manner. [Hostile] Ofer Casif and [Ahmed] Tibi are inside, but Dr. Ben-Ari, a Zionist Jew whose sons serve in the IDF, is outside. We are committed to stopping the violation of democracy by the Supreme Court justices.”
Israeli citizens should demand judicial reform and only vote for parties dedicated to carrying it out!
Ariel Natan Pasko, an independent analyst and consultant, has a Master's Degree specializing in International Relations, Political Economy & Policy Analysis. His articles appear regularly on numerous news/views and think-tank websites and in newspapers. His latest articles can also be read on his archive: The Think Tank by Ariel Natan Pasko.
(c) 2019/5779 Pasko

Monday, March 11, 2019

Needed: a Jewish Honor Guard on US Campuses

The Rabbis ask, “Who is wise?” and they answer, “One who sees the future.” It’s no big deal to see “today.” A Jewish leader has to see tomorrow. Look at what just happened in Congress, after Rep. Ilhan Omar’s blatantly anti-Semitic and anti-Israel comments. The Democrat party couldn’t pass a resolution condemning her and her vile words, instead they condemned hatred, in all forms, downplaying the Judeopathy and not mentioning her by name. So benign was the wording, that even Rep. Omar voted for it.
Sometimes, its downright easy to see the future. The writing is all over the walls, in between the swastikas.
There’s been a meteoric rise in anti-Semitic incidents across the United States in recent years. The Anti-Defamation League reported a 58 percent increase in such incidents, between 2016 and 2017, many of them in schools or on college campuses. In France, incidents are up 74 percent from 2017 to 2018.
Whether, its the known neo-Nazi types, radical blacks, far Left, BDS, or Islamists, matters not; the solution for Jewish communities in the US, and more generally around the world, is Jewish active self-defense organizations.
On US college campuses (formerly bastions of “freedom of speech” in past generations), verbal and increasingly real violence, has started to become the norm. Conservatives generally and Pro-Israel activists in particular are regularly shouted down, and sometimes physically attacked. Jewish students on campus run scared, regularly under threat.
Anti-Israelism has become the preferred form of Judeopathy today, in many circles.
Yaakov Hagoel, deputy and interim chairman of the World Zionist Organization (WZO) and head of the struggle against anti-Semitism, said recently, “The time has come to raise the issue of anti-Semitism to the top of priorities.”
The WZO recently helped to organize more than 60 rallies around the world, to raise the issue of anti-Semitism to the top of national priorities. The main event took take place in Jerusalem. Similar events were held around the world: in Brazil, South Africa, Australia, Romania, Germany, England, France, USA, Hungary, Italy, Georgia, Turkey, Poland, Argentina, Uruguay, Spain, Bolivia, Mexico, and more. In some countries, rallies were held in multiple locations.
Hagoel said, “We stand here today and in different locations around the world to say ‘This is the limit.’ We are in a difficult and painful period that has deteriorated rapidly from the scrawling of caricatures and anti-Semitic graffiti, to the destruction of graves, to the severe physical harm to Jews in a number of countries. We do not have the right or ability to click our tongues and continue on with our lives in parallel. We stand here, specifically in the middle of the day, to say that we will not be silent and won’t continue business as usual. Recent events are no longer merely a warning, but rather a wake-up call for the rest of the world, Jews and non-Jews. I call upon all the leaders of the countries to put the struggle against anti-Semitism at the top of the list of priorities, and to eliminate anti-Semitism from their countries.”
That’s wonderful, Jews should work with friendly non-Jewish allies and the authorities in various countries, BUT, Jews shouldn’t put all their trust in them, to protect them. If we learned nothing from the 1930s and 1940s, at least Jews should have learned the importance of active self-defense, as permitted to the full extent of the law wherever they reside.
Even if national leaders talk out against anti-Semitism, as Trump just did, policing in America is usually local. When an incident occurs, will it be investigated thoroughly? Will campus cops protect the Jewish students properly? Some law enforcement officers themselves, might be anti-Semites.
Campus Hillels, Chabad centers, Jewish fraternities and all the other Jewish groups, aren’t prepared to defend Jewish students on the campuses of today. A new type of organization needs to be created.
A “Jewish Honor Guard,” that guards and protects the honor of Jews and Israel.
Jewish Pride Education:
Would include teaching the love of and defense of fellow Jews. Knowledge about Jewish tradition, culture, and the central importance of the land of Israel, must also be taught. Instruction in Jewish and Israeli history, to prepare Jewish students with the information and mindset, to do verbal battle with the haters, and when necessary, properly defend themselves against actual physical violence. That needs to become commonplace on campus.
Jewish Active Self-Defense:
Means, offering self-defense classes, gun training, encouraging the purchase of pepper spray, tasers, etc. and training in their proper use. The training and use of guard dogs, to protect Jewish organizations on campus. Its time to give Chizuk (strength) to Jewish college students and help them navigate the combative campuses of today.

Its well known that a shooting or stabbing attack is shortened, and casualties minimized, with the introduction of a second weapon. Israel has seen that often, armed Jewish civilians have also stopped Arab shooters, stabbers, and attempted car rammings.

Jewish Knowledge means Jewish Pride, Jewish Self-Defense means Jewish Security!
Headlines like this scream out, “Hillel International tells Jewish college students to ‘lay low’ during anti-Israel week”. But this mustn’t be allowed to continue.
A student activist at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC, Phillip Yurchenko responded, “I am most disgusted with the suggestion to stay low-key.” He continued, “Many Jewish students are worried about anti-Semitism coming to campus, and our support system is advising us not bring more attention to this event.”
In an exchange between Yurchenko and Hillel International campus support director Rebecca Simons, Simons asked,What she could do to be supportive of Jewish students. I said it would be great to see a statement from Hillel International condemning the anti-Semitism on [the] Wake Forest campus. She told me that is complicated because she does not speak for all of Hillel International and because of free speech.”
Can you imagine that, free speech? Someone from Hillel is worried about protecting Jew haters' free speech?
Then, I almost fell off my chair, when I read a recent interview with Michael Siegal, the Jewish Agency’s Chairman of the Board, who emphasized that the Jewish Agency does not believe in encouraging people to make aliyah (immigration to Israel). “I don't think it’s for us to tell anybody where they [should] live, that they ought to make aliyah,” he said. And regarding anti-Semitism, Siegal said, “its not really our agenda,” but that its “really high on everybody’s agenda.”
Decrepit organizations on life-support, like the JA and Hillel, can’t be counted on to help the Jews in this new environment of anti-Israelism and Jew hatred, not in self-defense, not in encouraging aliyah, and not on college campuses.
New types of organizations must arise, groups that re-instill Jewish Pride and specifically teach self-defense, and help provide, and organize that defense for Jewish students on campus, a basically hostile environment now.
A “Jewish Honor Guard” must be created, to equip Jewish students with the tools to thrive on college campuses today.
Ariel Natan Pasko, an independent analyst and consultant, has a Master's Degree specializing in International Relations, Political Economy & Policy Analysis. His articles appear regularly on numerous news/views and think-tank websites and in newspapers. His latest articles can also be read on his archive: The Think Tank by Ariel Natan Pasko.
(c) 2019/5779 Pasko

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Pekudei, Counting, and Israeli Election Polls

This week’s Torah Reading, Pekudei, describes a very Jewish character trait, meticulous accounting, whether in business, government, or the social sector. After Moses’ earlier call for donations (Exodus 35), the parsha opens with an accounting of the Jewish people’s precious metal gifts, to build the desert Tabernacle.
These amounts of materials were used for the Tabernacle of Testimony, which were recorded at Moses’ command. The total amount of gold used for all the work on the Tabernacle, was 29 talents and 730 shekels, according to the sacred shekel. A talent was 3,000 shekels, and a shekel was about 9.5-11 grams, according to various archaeological finds.
The silver obtained from the community, who were counted in the census was 100 talents, and 1,775 shekels, according to the sacred shekel. One beka per person, that is, half a shekel, according to the sacred shekel, from everyone who passed the census takers, twenty years old or more, a total of 603,550 men.
One hundred talents of silver were used to cast the sockets for the Tabernacle, and for the partition, 100 bases from the 100 talents, one talent for each base. They used the 1,775 shekels to make the hooks for the pillars, to overlay the tops of the pillars, and to make their bands. The copper from the wave offering was 70 talents and 2,400 shekels (Exodus 36:21-29).
So, I thought that since the Torah reading deals with counting, it might be interesting to look at some numbers, relating to election polls for the upcoming Israeli elections.
A new poll published by Walla! conducted by “Panels Politics,” has the Sephardic-Haredi Shas party just passing the electoral threshold with 4 seats. Both Moshe Feiglin’s Zehut party and former Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beitenu party, failed to pass the electoral threshold of 3.25%, a minimum of 4 seats.
And, another recent poll carried out by “Panels Politics” for Channel 13’s “Hadashot Haboker” also gives Shas 4 seats. Yisrael Beitenu and Zehut don’t cross the threshold again. In Fact, Zehut has only crossed the threshold once, achieving 5 seats in a poll on February 14, since holding their primary on January 29. Yisrael Beitenu has only crossed the threshold twice in the last eight polls, for the last two weeks.
At the end of December, when Naftali Bennett, Ayelet Shaked and Shuli Muelum announced that they were leaving Jewish Home to form their new party, the New Right, they immediately reached a high of 14 seats in one poll, and have precipitously dropped since then, to average 6.688 seats, in 16 polls.
Jewish Home, before Bennett, Shaked and Muelum left, had 8 seats in the outgoing Knesset, and then dropped to 5, after their departure.
Since the Jewish Home-National Union-Otzma Yehudit joint list was announced on February 20 (now called the Union of Right-Wing Parties – URWP), it’s reached a high of 9 seats, and has averaged 6.375 seats, in the same 16 polls.
More recently, the United Right Wing Party has beaten the New Right in 6 out of the last 10 polls. And, combined, URWP and NR have been hovering around 13-14 seats.
Since December 26, 2018, when the government was dissolved, Shas has peaked at 7 seats twice in 62 polls and hasn’t crossed the threshold twice, it’s been averaging 4.871 seats.
When looking at potential coalition configurations, polls sometimes put the center-left-Arab parties ahead of the center-right-religious parties, but, you need to remember what Benny Gantz, Yair Lapid and Yael German have recently said about not sitting with the Arab parties.
Benny Gantz said, “he will call for a unity government with all parties, including with Likud, which will join us, and anyone else who is Zionist and sane.” That would apparently exclude Odeh, Tibi, and the Arab Parties.
So too, Yair Lapid, who has said that his party would not form a government coalition with the Arab parties, insisting on a coalition of Zionist parties; as has Yael German promised, another Yesh Atid leader.
After an election, the President of Israel, following consultations with the elected party leaders, chooses the Knesset member most likely to have the ability to form a viable (coalition) government. While this typically is the leader of the party receiving the most seats, it is not required to be so. In the event a party wins 61 or more seats in an election, it can form a viable government without having to form a coalition. However, no party has ever won more than 56 seats in an election; thus, a coalition has always been required. That party leader, then has up to 45 days to negotiate with the different parties, and then present his or her government to the Knesset for a vote of confidence. If the Knesset approves the proposed government (by a vote of at least 61 members), he or she becomes Prime Minister.
It will be impossible for the center-left to form a government, even if the Lapid-Gantz, Blue and White party gets the most seats, assuming they keep their word about not sitting with the Arab parties. Netanyahu and Likud only need to hang tough, and refuse to join them.
In 10 opinion polls since February 1, questioning voters which party leader they would prefer as Prime Minister, PM Netanyahu or Benny Gantz, Netanyahu has peaked at 48% twice, versus Gantz’s high of 41%. Netanyahu has averaged 45.2% against Gantz’s 36.7%. The polls show Netanyahu hasn’t yet been substantially hurt by the Attorney General’s announcement of intent to indict him on corruption charges.
Although Israel doesn’t have direct election of the prime minister, I believe that one most take into consideration voter’s preferences as to who should be the next prime minister, besides looking at party list polls, because many might change their vote in the last moments, and so far it looks to be in Netanyahu’s favor.
Even Gideon Levy, an extreme leftist journalist for Haaretz, appearing on the Erel Segal and Chaim Levinson talk show, on 103FM radio, at the end of December has said, “I’m not joking when I say if I have to choose between Gantz, Lapid, or Netanyahu today, I choose Netanyahu without hesitation,” Levy said. He continued, “I never thought to cross the lines and never thought to leave, but the reality changed. I believed in the reality of two states for two peoples. You [the right] have removed this possibility from the chapter and this train has already left the station.”
Meaning, because of Palestinian intransigence and the numbers of Jews in Judea and Samaria, Levy’s given up hope for the two-state solution. Is he becoming a born-again rightist, voting for Netanyahu?
I firmly believe that Feiglin and Liberman should encourage their parties to drop out of the race, and call on their voting public to back either Likud, NR, or URWP, so that no seats are lost to the center-left.
While dreaming, if Shas would only merge after this election with United Torah Judaism (the Ashkenazi Haredi party), to form a united Haredi party; with the demise of Liberman’s primarily Russian-backed party; we could put an end to pernicious ethnic politics, which is so destructive to Israeli society, forever.
There really shouldn’t be Jewish ethnic-based political parties in Israel. Politics should be a competition of ideas and policies, not a competition based on national origins from the Galut (exile).
That, would strengthen social cohesion, and Achdut Yisrael (national unity in Israel), which is a sacred Torah value.
A lesson we can learn from this week's Torah reading itself, where everyone donated to the Tabernacle, and had a hand in building the national sanctuary.
Ariel Natan Pasko, an independent analyst and consultant, has a Master's Degree specializing in International Relations, Political Economy & Policy Analysis. His articles appear regularly on numerous news/views and think-tank websites and in newspapers. His latest articles can also be read on his archive: The Think Tank by Ariel Natan Pasko.
(c) 2019/5779 Pasko