I am writing to you after the most difficult 24 hours we have known as a democracy here in Israel. Yesterday, we were part of the most major day of protests this country has ever known. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis made their way to Jerusalem as a last effort to save our democracy, and to attempt once again to stop the far-right regime coup. The call to arrive in mass to Jerusalem was an emergency call, following the government’s refusal to accept any of the compromise proposals with which they were presented, and to listen to a society that has been protesting non-stop for the past seven months, and instead, continues to gallop onwards with its anti-democratic plans.
Unfortunately, the first major legislation in the regime coup was passed yesterday. Namely, an amendment of the reasonableness standard in law, legislation that eliminates the Supreme Court’s ability to supervise the government’s decisions. Thereby removing the only barrier in the Israeli democratic system that stands in the way of granting absolute power to the government and its leader. From now on, it will be difficult to defend the government’s decisions, and the government will be able to violate the rights of its citizens and weakened populations, enact racist laws, and use arbitrary and unreasonable force against citizens. All this, as said, without judicial oversight.
After the law was passed, tens of thousands of Israeli citizens protested also in Tel Aviv and throughout the country. Roads were blocked, and police responded with extreme violence against the protesters. Dozens were arrested, and photos and videos of particularly violent arrests have flooded the internet.
The government's intentions are clear. They intend to use their new power to dismiss the attorney general, take over the public sector and appoint cronies to key positions. Already this week, the ministers of Otzma Yehudit, the most extreme right-wing party in the Knesset, announced that they support denying the NIS 30 billion budget intended for the economic development program for the Arab society. We are certain that the first to be harmed by a government that is not under the supervision of the Supreme Court will be the minority groups, and first and foremost the Arab public in Israel.
Already in the coming weeks, we expect a serious constitutional crisis. The Supreme Court will consider the legality of the law which was passed – and this, in itself, already deals with the right of the court to touch upon the issue at hand. This is a dangerous loop in which governmental institutions will be torn between complying with the court and the law or deferring to the government. This volatile situation endangers the state itself, not just its democracy.
We are facing a complex and long campaign to restore sanity to our lives, and to reinforce democratic principles. To bring about a situation in which Israel will have the tools with which to correct the civil, economic, and cultural inequality that exists within.
As a Jewish-Arab joint society organization, Givat Haviva will stand up to defend the principle of equality before the law, and the rights of Arab citizens, and against any effort to destroy the principles of a shared society. We will not give up, and we will continue to be the sane, moral and democratic voice. We will continue to educate young youth for democracy and equality in order to ensure that every Israeli citizen, Jewish and Arab, no matter where they come from or what their opinions are, will know how to respect the rules of the game and the democratic system that allows us to live together. We will continue to provide teachers and educators with the support and professional tools to educate the future citizens of this country.
We hope you will continue to support our work during these incredibly difficult times, so we can create a more equitable future for all citizens of Israel.
With unwavering commitment,
Michal Sella Executive Director
מיכל סלע מנכ"לית ميخال سيلع مديرة عامة
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