For more than 10 weeks, Israelis have been protesting against the plans of the right-wing religious government to reform the judicial system. Opponents fear a dictatorship will take over the country, while the coalition says it wants to create a more democratic democracy. For some these are legal reforms, and for others a legal coup.
But I want to focus on the perspective of religious Jews who see a trigger in the judicial reform of Israel’s most religious government ever. You can see a spiritual battle between Jews who believe in God and Jews who don’t believe in God. The ruling coalition has a unique opportunity to reshape, reform and enshrine the image and identity of the Jewish state. Not only do numerous rabbis admit this, but the right-wing and religious politicians have also openly declared this.
Part of the Israeli secular population sees a real danger in this and believes it must oppose it with whatever means necessary. Both sides understand that this is a fight for the image and identity of the State of Israel.
“In Israel there is a struggle between godly Jews and ungodly Jews,” explained Rabbi Yigal Kaminetsky. “Between people who love the country unconditionally and want to keep it at all costs and those whose love depends on benefits and conditions. A fight between people who see the Jewish state of Israel as the fulfillment of the biblical vision of the prophets and those who see Israel as just a safe haven. This is the first time that the majority of the people living in the Land of Israel believe in and want a Jewish state, and invoke the name of God with a distinct Jewish identity.”
The fact that, according to Rabbi Kaminetsky, there are also hooligans and anarchists with Marxist views among the Jewish people is nothing new and will not stop the people of Israel.
In Rabbi Kaminetsky’s view, the Supreme Court has not always cared about minorities, at least certain minorities, living in the country, as its supporters claim it does.
“When the Jewish settlers were evacuated from the Jewish enclave of Gush Katif in Gaza, the Supreme Court did not intervene on behalf of the 8,000 Jews in Gaza,” stressed the rabbi, who lived in Gush Katif with his family at the time. “We have returned after 2,000 years of exile to become a Jewish state. The Supreme Court, serving the extreme left, wants to make Israel a state for all its citizens and constantly works against Jewish identity. Our rights have not been protected by the Supreme Court. It spawned all sorts of ideas and arguments as to why we should be evacuated. So all this talk is meaningless. We need a court that promotes justice and honesty and Jewish values, that’s why we came back to our country.”
This is why rabbis like Yigal Kaminetsky support the right-wing government, which is supposed to push through judicial reform at any cost in order to repair the system once and for all. “Israel’s society needs to understand that there is a struggle for God and His Messiah. If the left had won the elections, there would now be one state for all its citizens. It’s about the existence of the Jewish State of Israel and that’s a fight,” he emphasized.
Israel is first and foremost home to the Jewish people, and that fact immediately raises the question of whether Arab citizens have fewer rights as a result. This is a point on which many disagree. The fact is, however, that Arab citizens are often better off in the Jewish state than Arab citizens in Arab countries. That alone is a blessing.
Israel’s Declaration of Independence says:
“THE STATE OF ISRAEL will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”
For all its adverse circumstances in a complicated neighborhood like the Middle East, Israel has managed to implement these principles, criticism notwithstanding.
And yet, much of the Israeli population fears that judicial reform will make the State of Israel even more Jewish. Throughout their history, the people of Israel have struggled between two worldviews, between godly people and ungodly people. This was the case in biblical times, in the Diaspora, and also today. But here you have to be careful, godly people can be found not only among the right-wing and religious voters, but also among the other sectors of society, including among opponents of judicial reform. How do I know? I personally know many people who share this concern.
Yes, it’s true, the controversial judicial reform is a trigger that is bringing people onto the streets to fight a worldview that doesn’t suit them. Others will say it’s just an excuse to finally get rid of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But at the same time, the judicial reform is also a trigger for its supporters, who finally want to create a Jewish state of Israel by de-emphasizing liberal and left-wing values. A clash of Jewish titans and worldviews that the people of Israel have stumbled upon time and again throughout their history. It’s about what the State of Israel should look like in the future, and it’s going to be an uphill battle this time. I hope both sides love their neighbor first and then themselves. In this sense, I think both must first love the people as a collective and then themselves, whether left or right.
Israel Today Membership
Save 18% Per Month.
Six Months Membership
Save 9% Per Month.