Australia reacts

Reflections on passing of reasonableness law

'Israel will become a poor, religious, messianic and extremist state'

Coalition lawmakers crowd around Justice Minister Yariv Levin to take a celebratory selfie in the Knesset, as they pass the first of the coalition's judicial overhaul laws, July 24, 2023. Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
Coalition lawmakers crowd around Justice Minister Yariv Levin to take a celebratory selfie in the Knesset, as they pass the first of the coalition's judicial overhaul laws, July 24, 2023. Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Executive Council of Australian Jewry president Jillian Segal

REGARDLESS of one’s views about the merits or otherwise of the various components of the “judicial overhaul”, the manner in which the removal of the Supreme Court’s ability to apply a “reasonableness test” has been steamrolled into law is shredding Israel’s social consensus and adversely impacting on Israel’s international reputation.

The situation demands a compromise, as called for by Israel’s President. It is a supreme irony that as we approach Tisha b’Av, the hard lessons of Jewish history about the dangers of internal disunity seem to have been forgotten.

It is well past time for the Israeli government to call a halt to the judicial overhaul and to search in earnest for a consensus, as President Herzog has called for.

Zionist Federation of Australia president Jeremy Leibler

While there is clearly a legitimate case for judicial reform and a substantial number of Israelis

believe in the need for certain modifications in Israel’s judiciary, alterations to the fundamental structures at the heart of Israel’s system of government should be embraced based on the widest conceivable agreement.

Any proposed reforms should reflect a consensus position on Israel’s democratic principles of upholding checks and balances, safeguarding minority rights and conserving judicial autonomy. As we approach Tisha b’Av, a day on which we recall the destruction of the temples due to internal conflict and hatred, we continue to endorse President Herzog’s attempts to foster national conversation and urge the government and opposition to recommence negotiations under his leadership.

Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council executive director Colin Rubenstein

It is disappointing that this controversial bill, which makes such fundamental changes to the very nature of Israel’s democracy, was passed in such a partisan, hasty and divisive manner.

While there are valid arguments for the reasonableness doctrine to be codified and perhaps limited, as there may be to adopt other aspects of some of the proposed legal reforms, this should only be done through sincere, respectful negotiations, compromise and genuine consensus.

It is important that the judicial reforms strike the right balance between allowing democratically elected governments to implement their mandates, and preserving the checks and balances that are so important for maintaining the integrity and strength of Israel’s liberal democracy.

We urge both the Israeli government and the opposition to modify their stances and come together in a spirit of civility, mutual respect, goodwill and patriotism, and genuinely try to reach a consensus position.

Friends of Likud Australia president Alex Goodman

The government hasn’t done a good job of selling its reform to the people and the high price is unity. Many governments in the past have wanted reform of the overreach of the court. It was known during the election campaign that this government was going to make changes, so I say to those protesting on the grounds of ‘democracy’, that there was an election and that was democratic.

Our position is that reform is needed, but there are those MKs in the Likud who voted with unease on Monday, and that think unity is more important.

Other countries like New Zealand have only one chamber, and government-appointed judges, but we as a Jewish people have what Golda Meir would have said, eight million prime ministers. We hope and pray for unity above all else.

UnXeptable Global Movement local representative Tal Silverstein

We have witnessed the situation in Israel deteriorating, week after week. The economy has been severely damaged, the cost of living is skyrocketing, and the security situation is the most flammable it has been since the Yom Kippur War. But above all – and most disturbing and frightening of all – Israeli society is separated, divided and falling apart.

Silence, avoidance, passivity, standing by – are not an option. And losing this fight is definitely not an option.

A year from now, if, God forbid, this legislation does not stop … Israel will be different – undemocratic, illiberal, not free. Minority rights will be taken away, women’s rights will be violated, more and more halachic laws will be enacted. Israel will become a poor, religious, messianic and extremist state, and the Supreme Court will have no power and no authority to stop that madness. We will see an economic, security and social collapse.

Zionism Victoria president Yossi Goldfarb

Earlier this year, as President Herzog warned the country was heading towards the abyss, we voiced our support for his attempts to bring key parties to the table for talks aimed at healing the rift.

Today, we reiterate that we are deeply concerned at the discord and disharmony afflicting Israel, and taking heed of the lessons of Tisha B’Av, we urge the government and opposition to resume negotiations

Keren Hayesod World Board of Trustees chair Steven Lowy,
Keren Hayesod world chair Sam Grundwerg, Jewish Agency chair Doron Almog, Jewish Agency Board of Governors chair Mark Wilf, World Zionist Organisation chair Yaakov Hagoel, Jewish Federations of North America chair Julie Platt, Jewish Federations of North America president and CEO Eric Fingerhut

We are at a point of great polarisation and discord in Israeli society, which we must find a way to overcome.

We emphasise the need and commitment of each and every one of us to our shared destiny, for a unity which respects diversity, guaranteeing that the State of Israel will remain a Jewish and democratic state.

We must place the wellbeing of the entire Jewish people before us, moderating the discourse and the verbal radicalisation and striving to reach agreements.

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