Bill seeking to bypass Supreme Court aims to end democracy
The precise size of the majority needed to trample the Supreme Court is something that must not be debated in Israel at all.
If you spent time as a child in a crowded chicken coop, you will have had difficulty forgetting the scene. When one of the hens is injured, her "sister" hens immediately begin forming a cloud overhead. The entire coop is engulfed in a whirlwind of dust. Within half a minute, all that is left of the injured hen is the dust of its bones. A few seconds later, it is business as usual in the coop. (In nature, where chickens are not locked up, there are no scenes like that.)
Yet even Israelis who have not spent time in a chicken coop are familiar with the principle. Those familiar with the "affairs" of the past week - starting with the public orgy with a mentally disturbed girl on the beach, then the blow from the butt of an officer's rifle on a hated gentile who was like the dust in the Jordan Valley, concluding with the fatal collapse of the light rig at a rehearsal of the Independence Day ceremonies at Mount Herzl - know that these are the sorts of scenes that repeat themselves. Violent pornographic excitement that stirs a public which immediately forgets and moves on to the next bit of excitement. No lesson is learned and internalized. Nothing changes. No debate is held over the patterns of behavior reprised. The wait begins for the next "pleasure."
In this sea of forgetfulness, one event stands out that did not even cause a storm in the coop. Two women stood in two different places next to their cars during the siren marking Holocaust Remembrance Day. Two cars that were rushing by hit them, bestowing on each a personal holocaust. The memory of it is like dust in the coop.
An individual loses his memory not necessarily because his memories vanish from the parts of the brain where they were lodged, but because the connection between those parts has been harmed. When this connection is lost, the ability to process data and apply them in context is destroyed. When the template is harmed and the borders in the mind are destroyed, one's memory is wiped out.
The general public is like the individual. In a culture without borders, when something once commonly accepted turns to dust, the public memory disappears. For Americans, John F. Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe and Franklin D. Roosevelt still exist. The same is true of de Gaulle, Sartre and Napoleon for the French.
Not in Israel. It is as though even iconic figures who served as models for the masses such as Moshe Dayan never existed. Even David Ben-Gurion.
Arcadi Gaydamak kicked up a storm and then turned to dust. Ariel Sharon sank beyond the depths of the collective consciousness. Only the clip from the pornographic storm on the beach exists in the present. After a minute it, too, will sink in the dust of the chicken coop. Without borders and, obviously, without being remembered.
Virtually the last institution trying to remain outside the galloping pace of the video clips, and to define borders, is the Supreme Court. It has intervened only nine times in the recklessness of the Knesset and drawn the line. Courts in the United States and Germany do so dozens of times. Yet even the shadow of a border has some significance.
It is no accident that Aharon Barak, the former Supreme Court president who fought for judicial oversight, came out of the Holocaust. Under a government that boasts about the strength of its memory of Nazism, the most important thing has been forgotten. If there is one country that must create every possible mechanism to fight against the tyranny of the majority, it is the state established by those who survived the collapse of democracy. But lo and behold, the very government that claims the memory of the Holocaust is the one that raises its rifle butt against democracy.
In Israel the court seldom intervenes. But the shadow of its power is enough to form a verbal barricade: "This will not pass the High Court of Justice." Echoes of the struggle against fascism in Spain can be heard in this sentence, which even Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein invokes to say to a majority without borders: "Thus far and no further."
Without judicial oversight of the majority in Knesset, anything will be allowed. Even today, those defined as non-Jews cannot marry Jews living in Israel. Even now freedom of movement is not permitted those who do not own a car for about one fifth of the days of the year. Even now, in Israel's capital, Jews are citizens while non-Jews are not.
And now, because something disturbs the momentum of the blow from the butt of the government's rifle - whether exempting the ultra-Orthodox from serving in the army or stealing private lands from those not of the Jewish race - democracy is meant to be thrown aside just like the bicycle of a Danish demonstrator.
Ehud Barak, Dan Meridor, Michael Eitan, and Benny Begin - all those who swear by the judges in Jerusalem - could not possibly have the blood of Israeli democracy, which sprang up as a refuge from the terror of the rampaging majority, on their hands. The law annulling judicial oversight could be called "the law for the end of democracy." Or "the law that wipes out memory." Or best of all: "the law of cannibalism in the chicken coop."
Those who wish to avoid disaster must do something to prevent it from coming to pass. No to a morally bankrupt debate over the precise size of the majority needed to trample the Supreme Court - 65 or 70 votes, or, as the coalition would really like it to be, 61. No. This is something that must not be debated in Israel at all.