There are certainly issues in which I am willing to concede that others have greater expertise than I. But regarding the political philosophies of Ze’ev Jabotinsky and Menachem Begin, in a word, of Betar, I am not ready to bow to the expertise of anyone, certainly not left wing journalists and politicians. I think I have the same Betar DNA as Jabotinsky, Begin and Yitzhak Shamir.
Recently, representatives of left-wing groups, which condemned Jabotinsky and Begin as fascists during their lifetimes (they even went as far as “Vladimir Hitler”), are yearning for them as two liberal democrats. This turn-about happened for a reason. It is all about trying to enlist their reputations in the “no-holds barred” battle against legislation introduced in the Knesset by Likud MK’s and others. This legislation is intended to redress the balance, after the pendulum was pushed so far to the left that a corrective reaction was inevitable. It is now being labeled as "Fascist" by the left wingers, who say that Begin and Jabotinsky would never have permitted it.
Many of the left wingers are aghast that the Knesset, Israel's legislature, should presume to legislate at all, especially when the left is in the minority. They remind me of the lawyer in court who called out, "I object!" When asked for his reason, he replied "Because it is harmful to my case." But, let's move beyond this to examine the issues.
I. The Israel Supreme Court
Brilliant people with the best intentions can produce horrible results. Just look at Aharon Barak, the retired president of the Israel Supreme Court. When he attained that office he decided to overturn two legal principles which had always protected the courts of democratic nations. He decided that everything (!) is justiciable and everyone has standing to bring a suit about anything. By virtue of his brilliance he was able to carry along the majority of the Supreme Court justices, and thus destroyed (yes destroyed) the Israel Supreme Court. They now spend most of their time meddling in matters they should never touch: telling the government how to govern and the army how to conduct war. Thus they don’t have time to do their real work, civil and criminal appeals and equitable relief as a High Court of Justice. I have been saying this for many years, but now more and more people are realizing it.
Since they have their own political agenda, which is far left of left, they have lost the confidence of the majority of the Israel public, who once trusted the courts more than any other branch of government. This is what a brilliant man with the best of intentions accomplished.
II. The President of the Supreme Court
The Chief Justice of the Israel Supreme Court is called the President of the court. Succession to the presidency is by length of time as a justice. When the President retires mandatorily at age 70, the longest serving Justice inherits his or her job and serves until he or she reaches 70. There is one exception:
To avoid very short terms in office, there has for many years, been a provision that the new President must be able to serve at least two years before mandatory retirement. When Daniel Friedman was Minister of Justice he supported an amendment to increase the two years to three years. At that time no one claimed the amendment was an illegitimate exercise of the Knesset’s legislative power or “Fascist”.
Now the Knesset has voted by 57-37 to restore the traditional 2 year period. This would enable Justice Gronis, who is the longest serving Justice, but who has just under 3 years left until 70, to become President of the Supreme Court. Certain left wingers don’t like this and have led the media in claiming that this housekeeping provision is illegitimate and part of the Knesset effort to dominate the court. Give me a break!
III. Appointing New Justices
All Israeli judges, including Supreme Court Justices, are chosen by an Appointment Committee of nine members. Three of the nine are Supreme Court Justices, including the President of the Court; Two are Ministers in the Government including the Minister of Justice; Two are Members of Knesset, traditionally one from the coalition and one from the opposition; and two are elected by the Bar Association, also traditionally one from the coalition and one from the opposition.
Recently there were elections in the Bar Association and a new President from the opposition was elected. The National Council, still dominated by the party which lost the Bar elections, rushed to elect two left wingers, before it could be replaced, instead of the usual one from each stream.
The Knesset is now in the process of voiding that election and having a new one to restore the choice of one from each stream. The left wing minority is calling this every name in the book; “Fascist” is one of the lesser accusations. One left wing MK said, “The majority is pissing on the Knesset from the diving board.”
Most of the media have become hysterical about these issues and without explaining any of the details to their audience, are badmouthing the Knesset for legislating by majority vote against the will of the left-wing minority.