When Israel faces external threats, we often see it as our mission to educate the JCJ community, our partners, and the public at-large about what’s happening. This is typically an incredible responsibility as the nuance of each situation is usually missing from mainstream media coverage.
At this current moment, Israel finds itself at an internal crossroads as hundreds of thousands of Israelis have taken to the streets to protest judicial reforms sponsored by right-wing factions of the current government. These safe and legal protests are the natural result of living in a thriving democratic country.
The Jewish Center for Justice supports the existence of both a Jewish and a democratic state of Israel, without equivocation or hesitation.
Critics of Israel — and Zionism — often argue that it is infeasible for a nation inspired by religious values, ideas, and principles to be truly representative of people from all backgrounds. However, for Jews around the world, this is perhaps our most critical objective.
Israel’s current “Judicial Reform” bill will significantly weaken the system of checks and balances between the judiciary and the parliament by placing unchecked power in the hands of the office of the Prime Minister. We are also dismayed by the fact that while so much attention has been focused on this bill, international media has once again failed to provide adequate coverage of the rise in terror from the West Bank and Gaza, the increasing threat of Iran, and the ongoing efforts in America to limit Israel aid in our budget.
Most asked questions
What happened in 2023?
After yet another election, Benjamin Netenyahu became the Prime Minister again. This time around, he has more seats after forming a coalition that consists of far-right members of the parliament. One bill proposed by this coalition would dismantle a 1992 bill which gave Israel’s Supreme Court and judicial system oversight over the elected government — in a sense, establishing a system of checks and balances.
What are Israelis protesting in the streets?
Israelis who are protesting this proposed bill believe it will significantly alter Israel’s democratic ideals and end the system of checks and balances that is currently in the hands of the judicial branch. They also feel that the speed with which this bill has been pushed limits the time needed for a nuanced and national conversation on the judiciary and the idea of democracy.
What are protestors asking for?
Israelis are asking for a nuanced and national conversation on the role of the judiciary and to slow the advancement of the proposed bill until such conversations have occurred. Israelis are also seeking a sense of calm and unity to focus on debate and national conversation. President Herzog has asked for a compromise bill in order to bring both sides together and heal the national rift that we are witnessing.
What occurred on March 26?
Most recently, Prime Minister Netanyahu announced the firing of Yoav Gallant, Minister of Defence of Israel, after he came out in opposition of the judicial overhaul bill. This action sparked the resignation of the Consul General in New York along with nationwide protests and strikes across Israel that led to delays at airports, the bank closures, and backlash from diplomatic staff at embassies around the world. In response, Netanyahu announced he will delay the judicial overhaul bill to allow for dialogue within the Knesset.
While many Israelis and Jews around the world are fearful that this bill could chip at democratic ideals and principles, we want to highlight that peaceful protests like those we have witnessed over the past three months are signs of a thriving and peaceful democracy. For Jews around the world, it is part of our faith and religious connection to love, support, and associate ourselves with the state, people, and land of Israel. The best way that we can support Israelis right now is to engage in nuanced understanding and learning of the ever-evolving landscape and to do so from a place of unconditional love.
This is a moment for nuance and Israel’s constant critics are using this as a moment to add fuel to the fire of anti-Israel sentiment.
- Firing his defense minister, Netanyahu raises public anger at his rule to new heights
- The deep democratic instinct of patriotic Israelis
- Herzog tells coalition to abandon its ‘oppressive’ overhaul package, seek consensus
- Israel’s judicial overhaul: What is the coalition planning and where does it stand?
- An open letter to Israel’s friends in North America