No, the 'override clause' won't 'crush' Israeli democracy

Published date23 November 2022
Publication titleIsrael National News (Israel)
"It will crush the court; it will crush Israeli democracy," he said, referring to one of the main issues dividing Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition-in-formation and the rival "anybody but Bibi" camp that lost the Nov. 1 Knesset election

Soon-to-be-former Defense Minister Benny Gantz echoed the sentiment on social media. "Those who promote passage of the override clause with a majority of 61 are acting in the name of corruption, not governance," he tweeted, also on Monday. "Netanyahu wants to carry out a [car]-ramming attack on Israeli democracy and harm national security."

Exiting Transportation Minister and Labor Party chair Merav Michaeli posted about her faction's "first conference to save democracy and the justice system," held to "unite the forces of good…to fight the dangerous override clause that is liable to critically harm the legal system and…the rights of all of us."

The list of doomsayers about the proposed amendment—aimed at enabling the Knesset to "override" Supreme Court reversals of laws it enacts—goes on. Some detractors have been highlighting the slim majority of MKs (61 out of Israel's 120-member parliament) that promoters suggest should be sufficient to dismiss judges' unwanted interference.

Others, who don't even bother pretending that the size of the majority in question is at the root of their objections, simply decry the very notion of stripping the judiciary of any of its powers.

This isn't to say that all supporters of the override clause are comfortable with every detail of its incarnation. Take best-selling author and neo-conservative pundit Gadi Taub, for example. In a letter to colleagues over the weekend, the senior lecturer at the Federmann School of Public Policy and Governance at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem responded to a petition against the clause launched by a fellow academic—Dr. Yael Shomer of Tel Aviv University—in tandem with a separate one signed by 130 jurists and counting.

ד"ר גדי טאוב צילום: ערוץ 7

(Above) Dr. Gadi Taub

Shomer's formulation boiled down to what has become a convenient catchphrase—the "tyranny of the majority"—bandied about by all override opponents, among them those lacking even minimal familiarity with the subject.

Taub wrote in an email, "Since the text [of the petition] expresses a professional opinion, but touches on politics, it is inappropriate for it to paint a partial picture…or ignore fundamental parameters that we certainly wouldn't allow ourselves to disregard in the classroom.

"The text is meant to have an influence beyond the...

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