Following First Stage Of Judicial Reform Passage, US Jewish Groups Take Sides

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The same day that Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu was released from the hospital after pacemaker surgery, the Knesset passed a key piece of the coalition’s judicial reform legislation on Monday. The law bars judges from using “reasonableness” as the standard with which to reverse laws passed by elected officials.

Sam Markstein, national political director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, told JNS that the group joins David Friedman, the former U.S. ambassador to Israel, in “hoping and praying that efforts continue—and succeed—to find a consensus.”

“Like other Jewish Americans, Jewish Republicans have varying views about Israel’s difficult judicial reform debate,” Markstein told JNS. “But we’ve been consistent in saying that Americans should respect Israel’s sovereign right to set its own course through its own democratic institutions.”

Prior to the vote, Mort Klein, national president of the Zionist Organization of America, tweeted over the weekend that he “strongly” supports Israeli judicial reform.

“End unelected judges choosing Supreme Court members,” he wrote, adding that elected Israeli officials should select court members, as U.S. officials do.

Klein noted that 14 of the 15 Israeli high court judges are left-wing, reflecting a lack of diversity on the court. “End allowing the judges’ mere opinion to ignore elected Knesset-passed laws,” he wrote.

Many other U.S. Jewish organizations that have criticized judicial reform condemned the new law.

The American Jewish Committee stated its “profound disappointment” with the law, which it stated “was pushed through unilaterally by the governing coalition amid deepening divisions in Israeli society as evidenced by the hundreds of thousands of Israelis who have taken to the streets.”

The AJC expressed “particular concern” given the fact that the law “has sown discord within the Israeli Defense Forces at a time of elevated threats to the Jewish homeland and has strained the vital relationship between Israel and diaspora Jewry.”

“Many Israelis” agree that some judicial reform is appropriate, the AJC noted, though it “has consistently maintained that reform to the institutions core to Israeli democracy should only be adopted on the basis of the broadest possible consensus.”

In June 2022, the AJC used the same phrase, “profound disappointment,” describing the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade. “We must guard against future efforts to undermine other hard-fought civil liberties,” the AJC stated at the time. “The court has sent an ominous signal that we cannot take these freedoms for granted.”

AJC did not respond to JNS questions about how its opposition to the U.S. Supreme Court decision took into account the “broadest possible consensus” and how it differed from the kind of action for which it is criticizing the Israeli judiciary.

Strengthen the foundations of our national home’

Hours before the vote, leaders of the Jewish Federations of North America, Jewish Agency for Israel, World Zionist Organization and Keren Hayesod wrote to Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu and Yair Lapid, the opposition leader, “We must make every effort for unity and shalom bayit—peace in our home,” the leaders wrote.

“We, representatives of the national institutions and world Jewry, partners in outlining the future of the Jewish people, wish to express the concern of the entire Jewish people and aspire to strengthen the foundations of our national home,” they stated.

The Anti-Defamation League stated that it is “deeply disappointed that the Israeli government passed the controversial Reasonableness Bill, failing to heed the call of President Herzog and others to reach a compromise rooted in a broad societal consensus.”

The Jewish Democratic Council of America also issued a statement condemning the passage of the Israeli law, which it “strongly opposes.”

“We are deeply concerned by the ongoing attempts to erode Israel’s democracy with measures like this one, which unequivocally weakens Israel’s judiciary, democracy, and systems of checks and balances,” stated Halie Soifer, CEO of the JDCA.

The group stated that it stands with “the hundreds of thousands of Israelis who have demonstrated in support of Israel’s democracy and in opposition to harmful judicial overhaul proposals, including this legislation.”

It did not state to what extent it stands with the estimated 200,000 Israelis, who reportedly protested in favor of judicial reform, nor did it respond to a JNS query. JNS



  1. What a stupid idiot! 10,000 demonstrated! 10,000 isn’t even enough to gain one seat in the knesset. It’s such a minor minority! But boy do they make noise! Boy did they disturb the rest of the population! That’s their definition of democracy! And these silly pompous outsiders dare open their mouths! Nu, David Friedman! Okay! Ah kasha! It needs to be explained to him! Israel was always behind the 8 ball in their P.R.

  2. I am impressed by the behavior of The Left. The last time I checked, the Office of Prime Minister, the Knesset and the Courts were all in the control of The Left until Menachem Begin became Prime Minister. As this article asserts, 14 of 15 Supreme Court justices are leftists!

    The Right never exhibited massive civil disobedience like The Left is exhibiting now. The Right did not attempt to shut down the airport. The Right did not threaten to refuse reserve duty. The Right did not hire Arabs to demonstrate against some piece of legislation.

    The Right did not harass leftist politicians at their homes and in other countries. I am sorry that The Left feels threatened by this judicial reform. However, coalitions and political parties generally do not remain in power forever.

    Now, after a right-wing government has prevailed in a democratic election, The Left screams about right-wing judicial reform, “This is undemocratic. The government is a dictatorship.” Can it be that an Israeli political result is “undemocratic” only if The Left does not prevail? Can it be that legislation promoted by The Right to limit the power of the Supreme Court (Subjective reasonableness in not a basis for unelected justices to overrule a democratically elected legislature.) is dictatorial if it was approved through a democratic process?

    Is The Left so deranged that it must threaten the security of the state if its control of the Supreme Court is challenged? Can you guess why Hamas and Hezbollah are smiling?

    As students of history have recognized, during the Second Temple period, more Jews were killed by Jews than by Romans. I fear The Left believes that if it cannot control the court, there should be no State of Israel. In what other democratic country may judges reject democratically enacted legislation on the basis that the judges perceive it to be “unreasonable?”

    My leftist brothers and sisters, you are not fighting “dictatorship,” as you claim. You are fighting to maintain the dictatorial position of The Left.

    • That would be rich, indeed, if the leftists – of all things – would bring about the removal of the Zionist idol.

    • They are establishing hegemony without being in the coalition. The hegemony of the Left is to to impose themselves even with limited power in a way that the Right wouldn’t.


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