I believe in inalienable human rights, and sovereign rule through democratic norms. How can that be controversial?
The Evisceration of the Supreme Court:
Corruption and the Loss of Minority Protections
As I write, hundreds of thousands of Israelis are marching in the streets in protest of a set of "Judicial Reforms." Universities have closed. Labor unions are threatening a national strike. Growing numbers of reservists are refusing to report to duty. And last night, the Prime Minister fired the Defense Minister for going on television Saturday night and daring to say that the Judicial Reforms need to slow down until a national consensus can be achieved regarding them. Prime Minister Netanyahu has instead declared that the Supreme Court is the greatest threat to democracy and that he and his majority have the right, power and obligation to gut its independence and remove its power to overturn governmental and legislative actions.
What does the Supreme Court do that bothers Netanyahu's partners so much?
1) Netanyahu and Deri are invested in removing the court's power to exert a "reasonability veto" on governmental decisions.
The Court has recently used its "reasonability" power to declare that Aryeh Deri was unfit for service in the ruling cabinet because of his prior convictions and jail time for corruption while in office. As head of the Shas religious political party, Deri is a major coalition partner in the government and personally musters enormous numbers of faithful followers in election after election. In addition, it set an important precedent against Netanyahu himself, who is currently indicted for corruption from his previous term of service as Prime Minister. If the power of the Supreme Court remains unchanged, and Netanyahu is convicted, he would be removed from office. This is intolerable to Netanyahu and his followers.
2) The Supreme Court has protected Religious and Social/Sexual Minorities in the past.
The Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Israeli Pride marches, gay/lesbian rights in marriage registry and adoption. It has ruled in favor of civil rights in the occupied territories, and minority rights in Israel proper. In particular, it has asserted the religious rights of non-Orthodox Jewish Israelis. It also placed limitations on the expansion of settlements. All of these decisions are noxious to the leaders of Political religious Orthodoxy. If the Supreme court's power to review is eliminated, it is entirely reasonable to believe that gay rights, non-Orthodox religious freedoms and minority liberties can and will be rolled back by the government without recourse. Such an elimination of basic civil liberties would be an illiberal democratic move by definition.
3) When rule by the majority is not "democratic."
Two wolves and a sheep vote on what they will have for dinner. Isn't that fair and democratic? It is, unless you believe in the inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Allowing a majority to rule in this case is "pulling the wool over your eyes."
The current majority in the Israeli government is comprised by the following parties:
United Torah Judaism (7),
The National Religious Party (7) and
Otzma Yehudit (6).
Together they are a bare majority of 62/120 - enough to form a coalition and take over the Executive and Legislative branches of the government.
4) What is Majoritarianism and why is it so bad?
One form of illiberal democracy is "Majoritarianism." This situation occurs when a majority in a free and fair election, such as Israel's, uses their majority power to act with authoritarian power akin to dictatorship. All checks and balances against their rule of power are removed, often including the courts, the free press, civil rights and eventually the legality of opposition parties themselves. The Majoritarian government can do anything, even things that democracies are not supposed to do, claiming that it is the "will of the people" for them to act. In a self-affirming and anti-democratic move, they assert that they have a "mandate from the people" and that minorities that protest their actions are just sore losers.
Illiberal Democracy in the "One State" plan
My legitimate concern began several years ago was based in the context of annexing territories, won in the 1967 war, without granting full citizenship and voting rights to all people living in those territories. Either release them to self-governance or annex them and grant full citizenship. The only alternative is permanent military occupation of non-citizen population centers without political freedom and democratic rule. People who argue against this view seek to justify why it is necessary. All they are doing is proving my point.
This has now become the stated policy goal of the current governing coalition under Prime Minister Netanyahu and is an unambiguous statement of fact. The permanent rule over occupied territories, however you define them as Yehuda/Shomron or the West Bank, is an expression of illiberalism by definition.
To put it plainly, The Likud Party has - ever since Menachem Begin the mid 1970's - held the position that there should be "one state" from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean. This has been the basic view of the Otzma Yehudit (Kahanist/Settler) party as well. The Oslo Accords, now abandoned by the majority of Israeli lawmakers, affirmed a Two State solution as the ultimate goal - Israel and Palestine living side by side. The current policy goals reject that idea.
The One State solution is the view of intolerance on both sides. Anti-Zionism (Hamas, Students for Justice in Palestine, Hezbollah, many in the BDS movement and others) declares one state (Palestinian) as their only goal. Right-wing Israelis - in particular the settler movements and communities - declare one state (Israel) as their only goal. Both extremes have proven that they can not be trusted with the "inalienable rights" of the other should they be granted the power and authority they seek.
A Two State solution remains the only hope for a future with human rights and legitimate democracies. Do we really have to choose between Democracy and Israel?
The fact that most Israelis and most Palestinians reject the Two State solution does not change reality. In any One State solution human rights will suffer.