The view from my veranda

Reasonableness Standard – Mid-week update

25th July, 2023

Mid-week update

It’s been a long time since I wrote a mid-week update but since one should never rely upon the international media for reports on what is happening here in Israel, since they always have an ulterior motive, in fact I don’t rely upon any media reports except the ones with reporters on the spot. Actually even that isn’t always accurate because in one “on the spot reports” from the demonstrations, as the reporter came on camera I heard a “Now” in the background and everyone started with noisemakers and flag waving……….. so, let me try to be rational, fair and true to myself and explain the last months, weeks and last night in as few words as possible. If emotions run into the explanation I will not apologise because, I am in a state of confused emotions.

Let me start with something most people do not know, about a wise lady called Dorothy de Rothschild, whose family donated the money to build both the Jerusalem Knesset and later the exquisite Supreme Court building. She made only one deeply symbolic demand…..that the Supreme Court building be slightly higher than the Knesset, because the law must always supersede the vagaries of politics. The planned, new, Prime Minister’s Office will also be, symbolically, lower than the Supreme Court building

Today is the morning after the vote in the Knesset. I can’t pretend that I am not terribly disappointed in members of a party that once upon a time was great, a party founded on the principles that built this great democracy. However, this is still a thriving democracy with elements of which we should be very proud. I am concerned that the shekel nose-dived against the dollar but equally know that despite the protests of even the most senior IDF soldiers, should the call come they will fight to protect us.

The demonstrations which began with a relatively small number of concerned people and grew and grew into a nationwide movement as people joined in, like the walk from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem which began with a few hundred and grew along the way to many thousands. In 99% of cases the demonstrations are quiet, civil and orderly but of course the young get very emotional and sometimes angry and on occasion do things that are best left undone.

One of the saddest sights last night was watching former Chief of the Israeli Navy, Yoav Gallant, currently Minister of Defence, going to each of the major players of this contentious law, trying to persuade them to hold back, present the law another day in a different form, but without success. Despite his efforts he still voted with the government as did all of the Likud party.

That over, what is the Reasonableness Standard and what are its implications. I think we all understand the basics, by dint of its very name, the Reasonableness Standard, and I knew that it would seriously cut the ability of the Supreme Court to censure the Knesset, that’s very clear, but I looked for a simple explanation and found it, strangely enough in an article from 2019, during Mr. Netanyahu’s last term of office. I had no idea it was on the cards so long ago. This is from the Israel Democracy Institute.  

The demonstrations will continue and my heart goes out to the young policemen and women who no matter what they feel, whatever their political alliances, have to keep the rule of law, keep the traffic moving and control the demonstrations – unfortunately receiving little financial compensation.

There are several claims lodged to the Supreme Court declaring the new law illegal, the first from the Movement for Quality of Government led by Eliad Shrager…. watch this space.

I’m sitting having my breakfast outside on the veranda looking around me enjoying the few minutes before the heat falls upon us. Like Israelis, reading the newspaper filled me with trepidation, concerned for the frightening split in society.. And then it happened.

About six little tiny birds, their black feathers iridescent in the sun, came to visit. They aren’t hummingbirds, despite their ability to hover, their wings flapping at a phenomenal rate, they’re called Sunbirds and they drink nectar from the base of flowers rather than long tongues as the hummingbird. They are quite spectacular and have a wonderful little chirp. As they went from hibiscus to hibiscus from tree to tree the happy song ringing out in the morning, I began to realise that there’s so much hope in the world!  Perhaps we should learn from them that there is another way, one doesn’t have to drink from the top of the flower but rather from the base.

Last night while having dinner I discovered that an old friend was related to David Ben-Gurion! Ben Gurion’s name original name was Grin before it was Hebraicised. Adv. Yair Green is a direct relative of the great man whose strength and determination are legendary. David Ben Gurion, a true leader, went against the Knesset majority, understood his place in history and declared the State of Israel!

Yes, it is the day after the night before and yes, I’m very disappointed but I still have hope that this amazing country will come out of it changed and maybe better, for the fact that we’re together. So many people came together, including young people who care so deeply for this country that they are willing to give up on nights on the town to join nights on the street in what became a fight for our legal system.

I wish you a good day. I promise you that no matter what , we still live in the most amazing little country in the world.