Supporters of Palestine and Israel must stand with the defenders of Israel’s democracy

Whether you are a supporter of Israel or a support of Palestine or even, like me, a supporter of finding a peaceful end to the decades old conflict, what is happening in Israel currently should worry you deeply.

When Netanyahu returned to the office as Prime Minister after the Israeli elections last November, he included a number of parties in his coalition who are either, not to beat about the bush, fascists or ultra-orthodox zealots.

Netanyahu’s main drive appears to be to end his on-going corruption court case which could see him sent to jail.  To do so, he seems to be wiling to pay any price, up to and including the destruction of democracy in Israel.  What the zealots & fascists have demanded, initially at least (there is a lot more as well), is the end of the right of the Israeli Supreme Court to be able to apply a test of “Reasonableness” to Governmental appointments, actions or new laws.  In a country with a single chamber Parliament and no formal constitution, this right of the Supreme Court is one of the few “checks & balances” in stopping any Government behave anti-democratically.

The law has passed the Knesset but has been referred to the Supreme Court to rule if it meets this Reasonable Test or not.  A number on members of the ruling Coalition have already said they will ignore any ruling from the Supreme Court that blocks this new law.  We await the decision from the Supreme Court (which met for the first time ever with all 15 members sitting as a single panel) in the coming weeks.

Every Saturday night since the “Judicial Reform” was announce back in January, 100,000’s of Israelis have taken to the streets to protest against them and the threat to democracy.  Over the weeks and months, the Israeli President has tried to negotiate a compromise but the Netanyu Coalition isn’t budging.  Demonstrations have also been held around the world, including here in London, Cambridge & Oxford, and where ever any member of the Israeli Government tried to visit.  The cries of “DEM-O-CRATIA” (Democracy) and “BUSHA” (Shame) have been heard across Israel.

For all those who love Israel, the sight of the one country in the Middle East that is mostly democratic (not including the Occupied Territories) and tolerant (as long as you are not an Arab) standing to lose this, as the other reforms planned include anti-LGBT+ laws, enforcing separation of men and women on public transport, is painful  However what is more worrying is how this Coalition is planning to even more rights from the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories & even from  Arabs with Israeli citizenship.  

This is why supporters of Palestine & Friends of Palestine must stand with those Israelis call for the protection of Israel.  Unless these reforms are stopped, Palestinians wil suffer even more than now.  Indeed, the supporters of the fascist parties in the Coalition are already carrying out pogroms in Palestinian towns & villages, safe in the knowledge that their leaders in the Government will protect them.

The bright hope for those who want peace between Palestinians & Israelis is that more and more Israelis now realise that there can be no true democracy for Israel while it remains an occupying power in Palestine. If we succeed in defending Israel’s Democracy, then we can start to dismantle the Occupation.  

This is why we all should stand up for Democracy, stand up for Palestine, stand up for Israel and say to the Netanyahu Government “DEM-O-CRATIA” and “BUSHA”!

* Leon Duveen is Chair of Liberal Democrats for Peace in the Middle East, a new group of Lib Dems working to support those trying to a solution to the Palestine/Israel conflict and to providing information about these peacemakers.

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  • Yuval Noah Harari spoke far more eloquently than I can about the dangers facing Israel at the Defending Israel’s Democray demonstration in London earlier this month.

  • Clare Cape, LDFP 20th Sep '23 - 11:41am

    While much of what Leon has said makes sense there is a fundamental point on which I disagree and which is worth considering.
    Until the illegal, state sponsored and often violent settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are dismantled by Israel; achieving a democracy there will, I believe, be just about impossible. The current state of Israel has to own this, as more and more countries are coming to understand. The absolute shame is that the UK government is so weak on it. As Lib Dems we must stand up for international law and human rights in Israel / Palestine as we do for many many other parts of the world.

  • Steve Trevethan 20th Sep '23 - 7:12pm

    Thank you for an important article!

    As Mr Harare points out, the real possibilities of the subversion of Judaism and nuclear powerful autocratic state in the Middle East are most important matters to be addressed.

    Might our party address these possibilities?

  • Leon Duveen 20th Sep '23 - 9:13pm

    @Clare – that is why opposining the the Judicial Coup is so important. Most Israelis have tended to ignore the Occupation as, apart from when military service demands it, they have no reason to worry about it. Now, the cancer that has been growing inside the Occupation, through the Judicial Coup, is seriously affecting Israel itself. Israelis are becoming more aware of this.
    Defeat the Coup and we can start dealing with the Occupation. It won’t be overnight & there will be hurdles & setbacks but through cooperation & international help it can be achieved, because if we don’t, the only realistic alternative is many more years of bloodshed & killing,

  • Leon Duveen 20th Sep '23 - 9:15pm

    @Steve – I tried. I submitted a resolution about it but it was rejected. 🙁

  • Steve Trevethan 22nd Sep '23 - 12:32pm

    We’re reasons given for the rejection of Mr Duveen’s resolution?

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