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Bleeding Kansas…Tel Aviv

The scenes in Israel fill me with a sense of foreboding. While I fully support the right to public demonstrations, that such a large percentage of the country’s populace is passionately engaged against the government is frightening. The closest parallel I can think of from my knowledge base is Bleeding Kansas and the lead up to the secession of 11 states from the Union.

I admit to not knowing a whole lot about internal Israeli politics, even though I spent my earliest years in Israel. I’m far from anything like an expert, certainly when it comes to legal matters, so I am struggling to understand how the proposed Supreme Court reform has become an existential battle.

On the face of it, I agree that the power of the courts should be curbed and that lawmaking should be the purview of lawmakers, not judges, whose primary job should be to interpret and uphold the law.

I believe that Israel’s Judicial Selection Committee, a body of only nine people, should better reflect the diversity of the country. Many in the US believe our Supreme Court has become too politicized — and that’s with every nominated justice being questioned, with no topics off limits, by the entire body of the Senate, supporters and detractors alike. That doesn’t happen in Israel.

I do find problematic limiting judicial review and also believe that any Knesset override of a Supreme Court ruling should require a two-thirds majority, not a simple one.

But all that is internal politics of a country of which I am not a citizen. What’s keeping me up at night is that while I am not Israeli, as a Zionist and as a Jew the State of Israel is deeply important to me. Its continued existence is what for me is existential.

I didn’t understand that viscerally until I lived in Europe and witnessed an anti-Semitism that delegitimized the Jewish people and the Jewish state. Sadly, in recent years, that has migrated to the US.
Despite any issues I have with certain political or social developments in Israel, I am eternally grateful for it. I often reflect on my relatives in Hungary who met a tragic end because there was no escape route for them.

Israel is that escape route — literally and metaphorically.

I pray for reconciliation and compromise among Israel’s deep divides as the global Jewish community needs Israel!

Shana Goldberg may be reached at [email protected]

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