Israel’s Slippery Slope
Israel's right-wing government has raised alarms around the world with its plans to disempower the judiciary. But while most of the criticism has focused on the implications for Israeli democracy, the "reforms" pose an equally salient threat to Israel's economy, labor market, national wealth, and security.
TEL AVIV – My current visit to Israel has coincided with a period of unprecedented political turmoil. A radical right-wing government’s package of legislation to disempower the judiciary has started to be adopted, leading many to worry that this great country’s robust liberal democracy is being eroded.
Since Israel lacks a formal written constitution, it is crucial that it maintains an independent Supreme Court and judiciary. That, after all, is what makes a democracy liberal – not just free and fair elections but also rule of law, protections for minorities, and appropriate checks and balances on executive and legislative power.
The government’s “reforms” will gradually move Israel closer to becoming an illiberal democracy of the kind one finds in Turkey and Hungary. The long-term damage to the economy could be so severe that, if the governing coalition’s judicial coup continues, this vaunted “start-up nation” could turn into a “fall-down nation” with severely diminishing economic prospects.