Identity politics and Israel's judicial reforms
Vivian Bercovici argues that Israel’s political crisis devolves from misdirected anger over its culture and identity wars, not well-formulated ideas about justice and democracy.
Claire—Vivian Bercovici, the former Canadian ambassador to Israel, remained in Israel after her term in office and became an Israeli citizen. She writes about Israel at State of Tel Aviv. I asked her if we could republish it this essay. I’m grateful to her for agreeing.
PART I. GETTING EVEN
1. The Million Man March in Jerusalem
It was billed as the “Million Man March.”
Organizers had worked for weeks to attract one million Israelis to demonstrate in Jerusalem in support of the coalition government’s judicial reform legislation.
In the end somewhere between 100,000-200,000 supporters of the reform made their way to Jerusalem last Thursday evening to show that they, too, have game and can fill the streets.
The crowd was overwhelmingly Religious Zionist.1 Secular Likudniks were scarce, likely because recent polls confirm that 70 percent of Likud voters are opposed to the legislative changes and the manner in which they’ve been undertaken. Few, if any, ultra-orthodox haredim attended, in keeping with the directives issued by their political leaders and rabbis. Their avoidance has everything to do with opportunism and fear and nothing to do with principle. The haredim are walking a tightrope these days, afraid of the government collapsing, which would be calamitous for them. All they care about is having the state budget pass in May, which will ensure that they receive huge increases in funding for their schools and kollels.
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