Israelis have been fighting each other lately regarding changes to the judicial system. See, for example, “Demonstrations forced Israel’s prime minister to delay a judicial overhaul” (NYT):
Much of life in Israel came to a halt yesterday: Hospitals stopped providing nonemergency care, planes were grounded at the country’s main airport, and malls and banks closed. The disruptions were part of an escalation in protests against the government’s proposed judicial overhaul, which has plunged Israel into one of its gravest political crises ever.
The fight has been described in the same generally hysterical tones that are used for Democrat-Republican disputes in the U.S., i.e., democracy vs. dictatorship/tyranny. (This always prompts me to ask whether Israelis will flee the impending tyranny and seek asylum in Syria or if instead they will choose Lebanon.)
For folks who want to understand what the fight is about, an Israeli friend recommended “‘Why do we need judicial reform?’ An architect behind the proposal explains” (JNS). First, one background item: Israel has no constitution. Its courts, therefore, can’t invalidate a law as being “unconstitutional.” Here are some highlights from the article:
There have been instances where the attorney general has refused to represent the government in a case, while refusing to allow the government the right to hire private counsel, leaving the government without legal representation to defend itself in court. The reform will allow the government to hire its own counsel in such an event, Koppel said.
One addresses the judicial pretext of “reasonability,” whereby judges overturn laws and administrative decisions based on whether they consider them “reasonable” or not. The pretext is vague enough that opponents of reform (at least in its current form) agree that it shouldn’t be allowed.
The fifth and final part of reform addresses the issue of how the Supreme Court can strike down laws. The reform would regulate the court’s ability to do so, requiring for example that all 15 Supreme Court justices sit on a case and that legislation be struck down by a special majority. Before, as few as three justices, selected by the court president, could strike down a law, Koppel said.
Essentially, then, the laws of Israel have been decided on by a triumvirate, in the best classical Mediterranean style! (Three judges pick whichever laws they consider “reasonable” to validate.)
Separately, for Israelis who disagree with any changes to the political system and who don’t want to escape to Syria, the option of Masada is open. My photo from 2016: