Letters to the Editor March 22, 2023: Internal affairs

Readers of The Jerusalem Post have their say.

 Letters (photo credit: PIXABAY)
(photo credit: PIXABAY)

Internal affairs

I am incensed by “Biden urges PM to compromise on judicial changes” (March 21). This time I am not even referring to the interference by a foreign leader in the internal affairs of another state. After all, did Israel condemn the US police when one of their number knelt on the neck of a citizen until he died? No. Perhaps it should have done, except that it’s an internal US matter.

What enrages me is that those very principles which form the basis of the proposed judicial reform, to which Mr. Biden is objecting, are the very same principles which the US itself is already implementing within its own Constitution.

A brief look at how the US relates to the four main items of legal reforms emphasizes the sheer hypocrisy of the criticisms in The Jerusalem Post report:

1. The proposal by our new government to cancel the “reasonableness test” initiated by former Supreme Court justice Aharon Barak. The original reasonableness test was abandoned in the US in the early ’twenties of the last century, as it turned out to be far too compromised to be of any use. Since then the test has been generally restricted to matters of taxation, regulation of labor relations and protection, and antitrust law.

2. The new proposals include altering the composition of the Judicial Appointments Committee and giving it a more political emphasis. In the US, appointments to the Supreme Court, the 13 appellate courts and the 94 district courts are political appointments made by the president with the consent of the Senate. The president may be a Democrat or a Republican and his appointments will reflect that.

3. The judicial proposals also include the ability of ministers to appoint their own legal advisers. The situation in the US is exactly that. From 1931 until today, and with only one exception (in 1989 when Bush came in place of Reagan) all legal advisers of the US presidents were changed by the next president when he entered office.

4. The proposal to remove from the Supreme Court its power to throw out a law of the Knesset (except by a unanimous decision): Although the stated role of the Supreme Court in the US is to strike down laws which violate the Constitution – Congress is indeed able to pass a new law that in effect would overturn a prior Supreme Court decision.

Enough of hypocrisy, enough of interference.



Smotrich, PLO agree

In denying the existence of a Palestinian people, Bezalel Smotrich is simply agreeing with a member of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (“Smotrich sparks crisis with Jordan over ‘Greater Israel,’” March 21).

In 1977, in an interview with the Dutch newspaper Trouw, Zuheir Mohsen, a member of the executive committee of the PLO, declared the Palestinian people to be a propaganda invention:

“The Palestinian people do not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the State of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. 

“Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct ‘Palestinian people’ to oppose Zionism.

“Yes, the existence of a separate Palestinian identity exists only for tactical reasons. Jordan, which is a sovereign state with defined borders, cannot raise claims to Haifa and Jaffa, while as a Palestinian, I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa, Beersheba and Jerusalem. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan.”

When a member of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization and Bezalel Smotrich agree, attention must be paid.


Margate, Florida

Let me preface my remarks by saying that I really dislike minister Smotrich and most of his politics. The US National Security Council spokesperson was correct in calling the remarks about Palestinians “unhelpful.” The EU was correct in calling them “disrespectful” and “dangerous.” The Egyptians were correct in saying they will cause anger among Palestinians. 

Nonetheless – they were historically correct.


Tel Aviv

Major omission

As an American-Israeli, having just plowed through the 831-page masterful biography of Hamilton by Ron Chernow, I eagerly read Prof. Shlomo Slonim’s article “Judicial review: The Brutus-Hamilton debate” (March 20) in which Slonim broadly favors Levin-Rothman judicial reform, which has caused such a deep schism in Israeli society. 

A major omission in Prof. Slonim’s article is the fact that laws in the United States are enacted and carried out with the involvement of three separate entities: The president (executive), Congress (legislative) and the Supreme Court (judicial).  By contrast Israel only has the legislative and the judicial, with a president having symbolic powers only.

Essentially, the proposed judicial reform would enable the one body (legislative/Knesset ) to enact laws by itself, perhaps indefinitely. That is not what we understand as democracy.



It was refreshing to read Slonim’s explanation of the necessity for judicial reform to protect Israeli democracy from the current dictatorship of the judiciary. No one with a functioning brain could fail to see this point. However, the extremists on the Right, by pushing for too much, have alienated a large proportion of Israeli society.

They can, and possibly will, force their agenda through the current Knesset. If so, they will win the battle but probably lose the war. The Israeli population leans Right, but includes many moderates like me who are right wing but abhor the extremists on both sides.

Many of us, if all of the proposed changes are implemented, come the next election, will feel unable to vote for a right wing party and will sit it out. The Left will then not only undo all the reforms but will probably go even further in ensuring a permanent judicial dictatorship.

To avoid this outcome, it is essential for moderate pragmatists on the Right to take charge to slow the process down and initiate a reasonable debate on the necessary reforms to ensure the development of a proper balance between the different branches of government. We need checks and balances on the executive, but we need them also on the judiciary.

The only person with the gravitas to achieve this result is Benjamin Netanyahu, and he is presently shackled by his ongoing trials, which are going nowhere, but are limiting his influence. If the legal establishment is seriously interested in fostering compromise, a first step should be to wind up these trials immediately. It’s a disgrace that they have been prolonged so long.

Hopefully there are still some adults around on both sides who recognize that constitution-building cannot be imposed by a slim majority, but requires a broad consensus if it is to last. We certainly need to avoid the catastrophic split that persists today.


Ma’aleh Adumim 

Differences in ideology

Regarding “High Court: Deep implications for Israeli-Arab ties” (March 16): It would be wonderful if judicial reform brought about certain changes in the functioning of the Israeli Supreme Court. Perhaps cases would not drag on interminably and the court would require proof of Palestinian ownership of lands before Jewish communities were uprooted based on unsubstantiated claims.

And, of course, any court should be basing its decisions on evidence and not on differences in ideology between the justices and members of the Knesset.

Unfortunately, Jamal Amiar’s article brings little light on the current issues surrounding the proposed judicial reforms. He feels free to libel “right-wing” MKs, accusing them of trying to strip Israeli Arabs of their rights, conveniently neglecting that proposed legislation called for the expulsion only of Arabs who’d attacked Israelis and accepted payment from Palestinian leaders for having done so.

Amiar also criticizes Israelis living in communities on land that is of historic and religious importance to Jews, land which was liberated from illegal (and harsh) Jordanian occupation, land that is located in Area C, which Oslo placed under full Israeli control and which will remain under full Israeli control until Palestinian leaders negotiate on setting recognized and secure borders, as specified in the accords.

Nor does he make any mention of the PA’s failure to develop the economy in Areas A and B, which Oslo put under their (full or partial) control.

What is raising tensions between Israel and the Palestinians is what has always been the problem. Palestinian leaders do not seek a state coexisting with the nation-state of the Jews; they seek a Muslim state replacing the Jewish state.

Contrary to Amiar’s assertion, Palestinian leaders did not accept the vision of a demilitarized Palestinian state neighboring Israel outlined by Prime Minister Netanyahu at Bar-Ilan in 2009; they never approached him to discuss the details of the plan.

Hamas continued firing missiles at Israeli population centers and the Palestinian Authority continued inciting violence against the hated Jews, stating that payments to the “Martyrs Fund” was the PA’s top financial obligation.



Parallels and contradictions

Yaakov Katz (“Israel has lost the story,” March 17) says that some people feel that “Israel has taken on the role of president Trump,” i.e., Israel is “constantly on the move in an exaggerated and extreme way.” Katz fails to recognize that the US and Israel have more serious parallels and contradictions under President Biden.

There are those who claim that the recent terrorist event in Israel’s North shows that our enemies sense that our country is vulnerable. So too, there is a direct line between Biden’s feckless Afghanistan surrender and Russia’s recent downing of a US drone over the Black Sea, not to mention a Chinese spy balloon traversing the US. 

The turmoil Israel is experiencing because of the proposed judicial reform has sad echoes in the US where a two-tiered system of justice has emerged. Politically motivated prosecutions have become de rigueur. BLM/Antifa rioters who caused scores of deaths and billions of dollars in damage walk free while those who entered the Capitol on January 6 – many of them peacefully – receive multi-year sentences for misdemeanors and languish in solitary confinement. 

Israel’s prime minister is being prosecuted for possible corruption, and a twice convicted felon may be allowed to return to his ministerial position. Recently revealed documents show that the Biden family received substantial payments from Russia and China for reasons unknown.

President Biden’s initial denial of any knowledge of his son’s business dealings is untenable. The question now is whether he benefited from these payments, thereby compromising him on foreign affairs decisions.

Katz criticizes Bezalel Smotrich for his disastrous attempt to speak English while in the US: “Words are swallowed and sentences are garbled.” The US is afflicted with a president who often misrepresents basic facts, makes up fictitious childhood events, rambles aimlessly and loses his train of thought in mid-sentence. 

Israel worries about cross-border infiltration. On the other hand, Biden seems unconcerned about millions of illegal immigrants crossing America’s non-existent southern border (including many on the terror watch list), as well as huge amounts of deadly fentanyl.  

Netanyahu has ceded power to the extreme wing of his coalition who are acting on the assumption that the Center-Left will never return to power. Similarly, Biden blithely facilitates all the extreme Left’s demands. Those in power seem to be misreading trends in their respective populations. 

They do not realize that political power runs in cycles, and that their present overreach hastens the day when a disaffected electorate will seek to restore balance and good government by bringing the current opposition party to power. The critical question is whether this will happen in time to prevent permanent damage to their countries.


Zichron Ya’acov