For the 30 or so years that I wanted to make Aliyah and didn't, I often said that, when history is written a thousand or two years from now, this period will still be viewed as the re-birth of the Israeli nation. I wanted to experience that and, if I could, play some small role in it.
My wife and I did make Aliyah about 12 years ago. And, in the last month, we did play a very small role in an historic moment, the effort to defend Israel's independent judiciary and democracy from a legislative "reform" package that is in no way a reform, but a decimation of Israel's independent judiciary.
It was the fulfillment of an aspiration that I would have been very happy doing without.
The last three months have been among the most consequential months in Israel’s history. None of it was necessary.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has burnt so many bridges and has alienated so many potential partners, that he is left with a Likud Party that, in the words of Menachem Begin’s son Benny, is not his father’s party, and with coalition partners who are extremist, racist ideologues. One proudly describes himself as a “fascistic homophobe.” Netanyahu has given them some of the most sensitive positions with extraordinary power.
Whether one agreed with his politics or not, there was a time when Netanyahu was a responsible leader. He defended Israel’s robust and world-respected judicial system, and he used restraint in the use of military power. Now defending himself from criminal charges, his only objective appears to be to hold onto power and to stay out of prison.
If Netanyahu was not the leader of the Likud Party and Prime Minister, Likud could easily abandon the extremists and form a coalition with the center and center-right parties that will not join in a coalition with him.
It is with this background that Netanyahu’s coalition tried to jam through legislation that would definitively change the nature of Israel’s democracy and society. Virtually eliminating the power of the judiciary to strike down legislation and empowering the Knesset to overturn judicial decisions by a simple 61-vote majority would be devastating to Israel’s democracy.
Israel has only one house in its parliament, the Knesset. It does not have an independent executive branch; like other parliamentary systems, its prime minister is the leader of the legislative branch. It does not have a constitution or a Bill of Rights.