The United States is not the only democracy where the rule of law is under attack. Michael Harris writes:
In Israel, the government is run by a prime minister under indictment for bribery, fraud, and breach of trust, offences that could carry a sentence of more than a decade in prison if they are proven.
Benjamin Netanyahu became the first PM in Israeli history to be indicted while in office. But it is not his alleged crimes that have recently put him on the front pages of newspapers around the world. After all, he has pled not guilty to all the charges brought against him in 2019, and remains cloaked in the presumption of innocence unless a court finds otherwise.
And Israelis have taken to the streets:
Why have hundreds of thousands of Israelis taken to the streets for weeks to protest against their prime minister and his extreme, right-wing coalition government? Why have some women shown up at these rallies dressed in long, red gowns, like handmaidens from Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel? Why have Israeli opposition members draped themselves in Israel flags during debates in the Knesset?
It is because their worst fear of what might happen if an indicted person became prime minister has been realized. Netanyahu, himself before the courts, has introduced legislation that would destroy the balance of power between the legislative and judicial branches of government. If Netanyahu gets his way, politicians may soon hold the whip hand over judges in Israel, as they do in autocracies.
That’s because under Netanyahu’s judicial reforms, a simple majority vote in the Knesset would be all that is needed to overturn rulings by Israel’s Supreme Court; so much for the independence of the judiciary. It’s not a bad card to hold if you happen to be under indictment. Perhaps that’s why former Israeli prime minister and current opposition leader Yair Lapid has called Netanyahu’s proposed legislation a “corrupt, personalized law,” in which the current PM is “looking out for himself.”
American Republicans have their eyes on Netanyahu:
While Netanyahu has triggered mass civil disobedience in the streets of Jerusalem, with his frontal assault on the independence of the judiciary, the GOP in the United States is veering toward the same outcome. The implications of what Kevin McCarthy and House Republicans are doing is every bit as drastic, extreme, and wildly undemocratic as what the Likud party is doing in Israel.
Consider the stunning developments in U.S. politics in reaction to the multiple criminal investigations into former president—and now presidential candidate—Donald Trump. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is as hopelessly captive to Team Crazy within his own caucus as Netanyahu is to the raging right-wing extremists who made him PM. They want to “investigate” the investigators looking into the Stormy Daniels Affair. Sorry, alleged affair.
Think about that. What McCarthy has ordered, and what has been supported by three GOP committee chairpeople, is dragging the district attorney of the southern district of Manhattan before Congress to answer questions about an ongoing criminal investigation! Think of it as a kind of official obstruction of justice.
Netanyahu lived and was educated in the United States. You have to wonder if there's something in the water there.
Image: The Hill Times