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Biden Administration, Israeli Left Undermine Democracy in Israel

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Jerusalem from Mt. Scopus 1

On Monday, State Department spokesman Ned Price as well as Secretary of State Antony Blinken criticized Israel’s plan to build new settlements as undermining Israeli democracy. This follows President Biden’s interview with New York Times, where, he too, decided to meddle in the internal affairs of Israel’s democratic system.

On Israel government’s proposed judicial reform plan, Biden said:

“The genius of American democracy and Israeli democracy is that they are both built on strong institutions, on checks and balances, on an independent judiciary. Building consensus for fundamental changes is really important to ensure that the people buy into them so they can be sustained.”

This statement echoes earlier remarks by Secretary Blinken who stated, “…as democracies, one of the things that we recognize is that building consensus on new proposals is the best way to make sure that not only are they embraced but that they actually endure.”

Moreover, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) also said  that he was “very concerned” that the judicial reform would make Israel “less democratic.”

This Democrat pressure has achieved its desired result on stunting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s push for judicial reform. Even though Bibi has a government and a majority coalition, his government has agreed to negotiate with the opposition on a compromise to the judicial reform without preconditions.

And the leader of the opposition Yair Lapid swiftly rejected the overture, with his partners following suit. Lapid is one of many participating in a hyperbolic, toxic chorus against Bibi’s proposal, stating that the reforms would result in “erasing democracy.” Both the leaders of the opposition Labor and National Unity parties called the judicial reform a “coup d’etat,” with former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon similarly calling the reform “a regime coup.” Former Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit called the proposed reforms “regime change” and “the elimination of the independence of the legal system from end to end.”

These proposed judicial reforms, however, do not upend democracy.

Well-articulated commentary by Ben Shapiro of the Daily Wire, Morton Klein of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), and Prof. Eugene Kontorovich of George Mason University argue that the reform actually does otherwise, and makes Israel’s Supreme Court more democratized and accountable to checks and balances. And according to some accounts, Israel’s public opinion has gone from 80 percent supportive of Israel’s Supreme Court 25 years ago to 75 percent distrustful of the Court only two years ago.

But the rhetoric of some within Israel’s ruling class has become so depraved that it even borders on incitement to violence. Former AG Mandelblit stated that if these reforms move forward, “somebody or some people will pay the price in blood. That’s what will happen.” Evoking Nazi imagery, the leader of the Labor party called the reforms a “legislative blitz of the judicial system,” while former Prime Minister Ehud Barak photoshopped a picture of Israel president Isaac Hertzog to a picture of Neville Chamberlain and called any compromise “peace in our time,” thus comparing the current Israeli government to Nazi Germany. Barak has since deleted that post, but one cannot help draw parallels to caricatures drawn of the late Yitzhak Rabin as Hitler prior to Rabin’s assassination.

And the head pilot of Israel’s 1981 airstrike on Iraq’s nuclear reactor chillingly posted on Facebook, as reported in The Times of Israel:

‘If a prime minister stands up and assumes dictatorial powers for himself, he deserves to die, it’s as simple as that,’ [Zeev Raz] wrote in a Friday Facebook post that did not mention Netanyahu by name. If a leader behaves ‘in a dictatorial way, there’s an obligation to kill them,’ Raz added. Justifying his claim, he appeared to argue that allowing the controversial judicial overhaul to move forward would result in ‘a lot of innocent dead, and it’s better to kill the criminals first.’

If the Biden administration and the opposition in Israel really cared about the future of democracy in Israel, they would allow a vote to move forward in the Knesset on judicial reform. Rather, it is stonewalling that vote that threatens democracy and peace in Israel.

You can follow Steve Postal on Twitter @HebraicMosaic

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EXCLUSIVE: Former Trump appointee explains an ‘America First Strategy’ in the ME

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Photo: Israeli Government

The author interviewed Ellie Cohanim, one of the authors of the new book: “An America First Approach to US National Security.” Ellie is the former U.S. Deputy Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism under the Trump administration. She is currently a Senior Fellow with the Independent Women’s Forum focusing on Iran, Israel, and global antisemitism, and is a national security contributor for the Christian Broadcasting Network. In 2021, Ellie launched and hosted for Jewish News Syndicate 30 plus episodes of the show “Global Perspectives with Ellie Cohanim.” Ellie spent 15 years in media and NGO management before serving in the public sector. How would you define an “America First” strategy in the Middle East?

Cohanim: An America First strategy in the Middle East would seek to advance American national security interests in that region, while maintaining our status as THE global superpower. To do that, the US would ensure that our principal allies in the region, countries like Saudi Arabia and Israel, are economically and militarily strong, and that our adversaries in the region are deterred.

Postal: How has the United States’ standing in the Middle East differed between the Trump and Biden administrations?

Cohanim: Under President Trump, for four years we had peace, stability and prosperity in the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region. Under President Biden, in just three tumultuous years there has been war in the region, which holds the potential for becoming a regional conflict and even a nuclear confrontation. Meanwhile, the US’ status in the region and the world has diminished due to Biden’s disastrous mishandling of the Afghanistan withdrawal, his emboldening of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and his weak response to Iranian attacks on our personnel and assets in the region. 

 

Postal: Do you think the United States and Israel are/were in a stronger position to deter Iran’s nuclear and territorial ambitions in Biden or Trump’s administration?

Cohanim: America’s position of strength has not changed under either administration vis-à-vis the Islamic Republic of Iran. What has changed is our Iran policy. Under President Trump’s administration, the US contained and constrained Tehran. Trump applied a “Maximum Pressure” sanctions campaign which left the Iranian Regime with only $4 billion in accessible foreign currency reserves by the end of his term, giving the Iranians less cash and less ability to fund their terror proxies and their nuclear program, and Trump eliminated Qassem Soleimani. While all President Biden needed to do was to continue implementing such successful policies, his administration instead did the exact opposite.  Under the Biden administration, Israel, our leading ally in the region, was attacked for the first time directly from Iranian soil. This was an unprecedented escalatory attack by the Iranian regime, and could only happen under the Biden administration.

Postal: In your chapter of the book, you discuss the weakening of US relations with Israel and Saudi Arabia under the Biden administration. How has the Biden administration affected the likelihood of future normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and deals between Israel and other Muslim countries (i.e., new Abraham Accords)?

Cohanim: The good news is that the Abraham Accords have withstood the test of multiple Hamas provocations against Israel, and now the current war. Despite numerous claims from the Biden administration regarding “successful” efforts to normalize ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel, I do not think that the Biden administration will be able to clinch such a deal. In the Middle East, people have a long memory. Saudi Arabia’s de-facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) has not forgotten President Biden’s snub when he first came into office, and Biden’s incredibly poorly advised behavior towards the Crown Prince when he made his first visit to the Kingdom as president. The last thing the Crown Prince wants is to hand Biden his first foreign policy success with a Rose Garden peace deal ceremony. So, I do not believe President Biden can broker Saudi/Israeli normalization.

However, I am also convinced that it is a matter of “when” and not “if” such a peace deal will happen between those two countries, as it serves both of their interests to make such a deal. The Saudis understand better than anyone that it is the Islamic Republic of Iran that threatens the Kingdom’s security and stability, not Israel.

Postal: What do you think of the Biden administration’s latest statements withholding arms to Israel?

Cohanim: President Biden will go down in history for his abject moral failure in not standing by Israel while she fights a five-front war. Biden has shown his despicable personality for trying to keep his anti-Israel arms embargo concealed until he could first deliver a speech on the Holocaust. Biden’s behavior is despicable on so many levels.

Ultimately, Biden is betraying the American people. He came into office presenting himself as a “centrist Democrat,” but has proven repeatedly to be beholden to the radical, extremist, pro-Hamas wing of his party.

Postal: How does the Biden administration’s support of a Palestinian state differ from the Trump administration’s support of a Palestinian state under its Peace to Prosperity framework?

Cohanim: The Biden administration stated that they will “unilaterally recognize” a Palestinian state. What the borders of that state are and who would lead it, nobody knows. 

The Trump administration’s “Peace to Prosperity” was a detailed plan that was premised on the realities on the ground in Israel. The plan required that the Palestinians reach benchmarks proving a real desire to live in peace with their Israeli neighbors. It included over $50 billion in investment in the region, which would have been a road to prosperity for all. Perhaps most significantly, the Palestinian state envisioned under the Trump plan would have been demilitarized, the wisdom of which could not be more clear following the October 7 massacre and attack.

The author would like to thank Ellie Cohanim for participating in this interview.

 

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