Anarchy Stirs in Israel
By Hal Lindsey
The president of Israel, Isaac Herzog, recently said, “Israel is in the throes of a profound crisis.” He spoke of “civil war,” and said, “The abyss is within touching distance.”
Civil war? The abyss? Is it really that bad in Israel? It all centers on judicial reform. Extreme leftists protested proposed reforms by rioting in the streets. Others on the left protested peacefully but in large numbers. Like the nation’s president, many speak of civil war and anarchy. Protests occurred in places you would never expect. Elite military officers walked off the job one Sunday in March. Many of Israel’s reservists have refused to report for duty.
Meanwhile, Israel’s enemies watch and feel emboldened. Terrorists rampaged within Israel, and a missile barrage hit from without. The result of all this has been to effectively thrust us forward on God’s end-times timeline.
Benjamin Netanyahu’s government won the majority in the last election partly because they promised the very judicial reforms now being protested. Voters chose the conservative coalition, not despite such reforms, but at least partly because of them. The reforms would allow the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) to overrule Supreme Court decisions. The Knesset would also be given more of a say in who becomes a member of that court.
When Americans hear that a parliamentary body would have the ability to overrule the Supreme Court, they usually think, “That’s unconstitutional!” They forget that Israel has no constitution. And Israel’s present method for choosing members of the Supreme Court mostly leaves out any form of accountability to the people.
Even with its flaws, I prefer our system. When a Court vacancy occurs in the United States, the President nominates a replacement. The Senate can then either confirm the nominee or not. The people elect the President. The people also choose Senators. So, ultimately, members of the US Supreme Court, along with other federal judges, are chosen by elected representatives of the people.
It doesn’t work that way in Israel. There, Supreme Court judges are chosen by something called the “Judicial Selection Committee.” The majority in the Knesset only holds two of the nine positions on the committee. In other words, the people have almost no say in the matter at all.
Without a Constitution, Israel’s courts have no guardrails. They began to realize their overwhelming power during the time of a man named Aharon Barak. He became a member of Israel’s Supreme Court in 1978 and served as the Court’s president from 1995 until 2006. He changed everything. He praised what he called, “judicial legislation.” He called “judicial lawmaking… the task of a supreme court.”
In other words, forget democracy. Forget government of, by, and for the people. Instead, an unelected few “legislate” for everyone else. Barak also eliminated previous constraints on the kind of cases the Court could take up. Presently, Israel is stuck with a court chosen by elites and not the people. That court can take up any issue it wants, overriding the will of the nation’s elected leaders, while passing its own laws.
Does Israel need judicial reform? It absolutely needs it! We often call that nation the only working democracy in the Middle East. But Israel’s Supreme Court presently has the same power as Iran’s mullahs. They can undo anything Israel’s democratically chosen representatives do and replace those laws with laws of the court’s own making. In the absence of a constitution, the answer seems to be to make the judiciary more accountable to the people through their elected representatives in the Knesset.
On March 27th, Prime Minister Netanyahu temporarily withdrew his reform proposals. Maybe during this pause, they can figure out a better approach. But make no mistake. Without reform, the 15 judges of Israel’s Supreme Court hold absolute power. And that is incompatible with the basic premise of democracy.
A final word here. This is not the end of Israel. What Satan means for evil, God will use for good. And He will keep His promises.