Ayelet Shaked has one obvious difference from almost all former Justice Ministers, she is a religious, Zionist, nationalist, right wing reformer who has a separate view of the Supreme Court and how it has been chosen and unlimited in its power and wishes to change this situation. She has taken on a challenge which has bothered and frustrated others of her political ilk but somehow had remained beyond their reach as even in right wing governments the Justice Minister has inevitably come from the leftist or least right wing minister who either saw no problem or was overwhelmed by the opposition to change. The problem has been a threat faced by every right-wing, Zionist, nationalist or religious legislation whether produced by a liberal or conservative Knesset. The Supreme Court has acted as a gauntlet which every law passed by the Knesset has had to survive. This has worked in two completely different ways. The Supreme Court review allows a centrist or leftist Knesset to pass legislation demanded from religious parties or even center-right parties which may have been included in their coalition by necessity or expediency and then rely on the Supreme Court review prerogative to declare the legislation unconstitutional despite Israel having no constitution. A conservative, right-wing, religious, Zionist, nationalist coalition government will find that gauntlet to be a stiff challenge foiling even the most popular legislation, well, most popular anywhere in Israel outside central and northern Tel Aviv and other similar left-wing brie and wine party communities. It remains to be seen how far Ms. Shaked will get with her planned reforms, some of which are fairly benign and others targeting some sacred cows.
The early reactions have been alarming even if not completely surprising. There have been charges against Ayelet Shaked making aspersions targeting her being an attractive woman though these references have been anything but complimentary. The sexist commentaries would never have been permitted to pass without howling from the media and those self-appointed conscience for society had the comments been made against a leftist Minister of the Knesset. There have been some from the left such as Tzipi Livni and Meretz chairperson Zehava Galon who have denounced the threats and aspersions, giving one hope that civility can be reached and ranks closed against such uncivil effronteries. Still, the threats to Ayelet Shaked included death threats and other forms of physical harm and were of sufficient quantity and many so overt that she has been assigned security details to assure her safety. The fact that a Minister of the Knesset who has set for themselves to reform a part of the government which has met with complaints from across the political spectrum, though mostly from one end, should require twenty-four hour security protection is a sad commentary which tells us more about those opposing change than it says about the changes themselves. Reformations are never easy and often are opposed strongly by those served best by an inequality which is to be addressed; the reforms are often lauded by the people retrospectively. Change often is best performed slowly over time but there are those rare instances when change must be performed in one sweeping set of reforms. This is the latter form and will also require broad support actively communicated by the people if it has any hope of being successful. The fact that this is a sixty-one seat coalition which is as narrow as is possible makes the possibility for these reforms to be enacted and successfully implemented seemingly impossible. But then again, should the changes by obviously measured and not overt and far-reaching but fair and even-handed, then perhaps it will receive a more favorable reaction and the acceptance reach beyond just the coalition and also receive votes from outside the coalition showing a greater range of acceptance than initially expected.
The announced expectation for possible reforms to be applied to the various powers and specifics in choosing and possible oversight of the selection process has made a stir clear across the political spectrum. Not all the reactions would be what one might expect. There are those traditionalists on the right who are against change, especially any sudden or expansive changes and there are those on the left who also fear the powers vested and nearly unlimited scope given the Supreme Court. The one thing those who today enjoy the excess of power backing their points of view may find themselves facing a similarly long period where the Supreme Court would have slowly but inexorably changed its slant and become a tool of the other extreme. The test that any changes should be best judged by would be those where both those on the right and the left have similar misgivings and both complaining equally, then we will know the changes are balanced. We can expect there to be extensive debates and, if Ayelet Shaked is near as wise as some have asserted, a balanced group representative of the entire political spectrum included in the proceedings making for a balanced set of recommendations is utilized such that everyone has some investment in the changes. Those who have found the Supreme Court selection process to be self-perpetuating and so resistant to change as to make the Supreme Court potentially an anachronistic body fossilized and incapable of changing with the society and eventually leading to it becoming so out of touch and lost within their own little cocoon so as to make their decisions as much a joke as a target of derision. No body of highly educated individuals would ever desire to be part of efforts which would eventually lead to the irrelevance of that very body leading to its having to be erased and rebuilt from scratch yet that is exactly what the Supreme Court risks if they continue on their current path. So, while some will look onto the proceedings with great hope, others will dread the possible changes which may weaken their powers today, the truth this very well will make a Supreme Court and accompanying judicial proceedings and selection processes more adaptive and representative of the people and their society retaining sufficient resistance to rapid and excessive changes so as to retain its deliberative standing making the court a curb to changes which may prove too far and too fast acting as an anchor but an anchor which can be repositioned when required. May Ms. Shaked find success and may her security details have the most boring jobs in all Israel.
Beyond the Cusp