The same day that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was released from the hospital after pacemaker surgery, the Knesset passed a key piece of the coalition’s judicial reform legislation on Monday. The law bars judges from using “reasonableness” as the standard with which to reverse laws passed by elected officials.
Sam Markstein, national political director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, told Zenger News that the group joins David Friedman, the former U.S. ambassador to Israel, in “hoping and praying that efforts continue—and succeed—to find a consensus.”
“Like other Jewish Americans, Jewish Republicans have varying views about Israel’s difficult judicial reform debate,” Markstein told Zenger News. “But we’ve been consistent in saying that Americans should respect Israel’s sovereign right to set its own course through its own democratic institutions.”
Prior to the vote, Mort Klein, national president of the Zionist Organization of America, tweeted over the weekend that he “strongly” supports Israeli judicial reform.
“End unelected judges choosing Supreme Court members,” he wrote, adding that elected Israeli officials should select court members, as U.S. officials do.
Klein noted that 14 of the 15 Israeli high court judges are left-wing, reflecting a lack of diversity on the court. “End allowing the judges’ mere opinion to ignore elected Knesset-passed laws,” he wrote.
Many other U.S. Jewish organizations that have criticized judicial reform condemned the new law.
The American Jewish Committee stated its “profound disappointment” with the law, which it stated “was pushed through unilaterally by the governing coalition amid deepening divisions in Israeli society as evidenced by the hundreds of thousands of Israelis who have taken to the streets.”
In June 2022, the AJC used the same phrase, “profound disappointment,” describing the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade. “We must guard against future efforts to undermine other hard-fought civil liberties,” the AJC stated at the time. “The court has sent an ominous signal that we cannot take these freedoms for granted.”
AJC did not respond to Zenger News questions about how its opposition to the U.S. Supreme Court decision took into account the “broadest possible consensus” and how it differed from the kind of action for which it is criticizing the Israeli judiciary.
Hours before the vote, leaders of the Jewish Federations of North America, Jewish Agency for Israel, World Zionist Organization and Keren Hayesod wrote to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Yair Lapid, the opposition leader, “We must make every effort for unity and shalom bayit—peace in our home,” the leaders wrote.
The Anti-Defamation League stated that it is “deeply disappointed that the Israeli government passed the controversial Reasonableness Bill, failing to heed the call of President Herzog and others to reach a compromise rooted in a broad societal consensus.”
It did not state to what extent it stands with the estimated 200,000 Israelis, who reportedly protested in favor of judicial reform, nor did it respond to a Zenger News query.
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