Black Monday: Anyone Who Cares About Israel Must Strike Today

Haaretz Editorial

Feb 13, 2023 12:03 am IST

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Justice Minister Yariv Levin, earlier this year.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Justice Minister Yariv Levin, earlier this year.Credit: Emil Salman

The Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee will begin a legislative blitz on Monday whose goal is to overturn Israel’s system of government. Committee chairman Simcha Rothman will try to secure passage of bills that would bar the Supreme Court from overturning unconstitutional Basic Laws and change the Judicial Appointments Committee’s composition so that representatives of the governing coalition can select the judges. 

Later this week, it will vote on bills that would allow 61 of the Knesset’s 120 members to reenact legislation overturned by the court, and bar the court from overturning government decisions on the grounds that they are unreasonable. 

In a special address to the nation Sunday evening, President Isaac Herzog urged the coalition not to bring the legislative changes up for their first Knesset vote and suggested a compromise. The fact that the number of people issuing warnings about this coup against our system of government is rising every day doesn’t bother Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition of madness. 

Eighteen former Supreme Court justices, including former court presidents, published an open letter saying that the plan “severely threatens the essence of our system of government and our way of life in Israel.” Twelve former national security advisers warned that the plan has sparked a severe social crisis that endangers national resilience. Former Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit said, “This isn’t a reform, but a complete change in the DNA on which we were raised.” 

They have been joined by Deputy Attorney General Gilad Noam, who said that many of the proposals may harm Israel overseas. And indeed, over the weekend, U.S. President Joe Biden echoed the criticism voiced by French President Emmanuel Macron, saying that “building consensus for fundamental changes is really important to ensure that the people buy into them.”

As Israel is marching toward the abyss, Justice Minister Yariv Levin has accused Supreme Court President Esther Hayut and Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miaraof perpetrating a coup, while MK Tali Gotliv (Likud) has blamed Hayut for last Friday’s terror attack in Jerusalem, which killed three people.

The goal of the coup against our system of government isn’t just to bolster Netanyahu’s government, but also to destroy the democratic side of the state’s identity. That’s why the government is also moving ahead with ultranationalistic legislation that undermines fundamental rights, like a bill to allow Arab terrorists to be stripped of their citizenship and deported, and an amendment to the Disengagement Law that would repeal the sections barring Israelis from entering or residing in territory evacuated in 2005.

Protest organizations have called for a national strike on Monday and a demonstration outside the Knesset. The government is doing everything it can to sabotage these protests. The Finance Ministry’s director of salary and employment agreements said there is no authorization to pay public-sector workers who skip work. Education Minister Yoav Kisch announced that absent teachers won’t be paid and absent students will be deemed truants.

Despite the problems and pitfalls, only large-scale public participation in both the demonstration and the strike can alter the path of destruction down which the government is marching. Only by standing strong in the state’s defense can we save democracy from the people seeking to destroy it. Anyone who cares about Israel must strike in protest on Monday.