The interventions in Israel’s bitter debate over judicial reform by both the Biden administration and many segments of the American Jewish community are striking—and need explaining.
In an article entitled “Israeli Sovereignty and American Intervention” in the Jerusalem Strategic Tribune, I began my explanation this way:
The streets are seething. Police have clashed with demonstrators and there have been not only arrests but some violence. Hundreds of thousands and likely millions have protested proposed government actions. Unions have called for nationwide strikes. Government reactions have elicited even more fierce opposition.
Israel? No, France. Most recently, protests have intensified when the government completely bypassed the parliament to push through by decree a broadly unpopular provision raising the retirement age. In response, President Biden has said exactly nothing, and other figures in his administration–the U.S. Ambassador to France, the Secretary of State, the Vice President—have been equally quiet.
I offer four explanations, dealing with religion and the Left, American politics, Prime Minister Netanyahu, and the meaning of the Supreme Court to Americans.
The decision of those who oppose reform to invite, indeed to plead for, American intervention in this complex and fateful internal contest damages Israeli sovereignty and self-government. One can only hope that when the dust has settled, Israelis will—whatever their views on the supreme court—come to agree that the appeal to foreign intervention over the Jewish State’s internal political structures was a damaging mistake and a dangerous precedent.
The book’s conclusions are positive: Gordis writes that "In almost every way imaginable, Zionism has beaten the odds."
In fact, Israel has not only survived and thrived, but is now the world’s largest Jewish community. And with its high birth rate, Gordis notes, "by the time of its centennial in 2048, most of the world’s Jews … will live in Israel." It’s a book worth reading.