What the rioting left fails to see

What the rioting left fails to see


The attempted criminalization of Israel and Jews will continue even if the judiciary’s power is limited.

Israelis protest in Tel Aviv against the government’s judicial reform plan, March 4, 2023. Photo by Gili Yaari /Flash90.

On Sunday, a group of Israeli Air Force reserve F-15I pilots announced that due to their opposition to the Netanyahu government’s judicial reform bills, they would not participate in their squadron’s training mission this week.

It’s hard to know what the pilots thought would happen in response to their declaration, but if they believed the IDF would compel the government to shelve its judicial reform efforts, they received a rude awakening. The very notion that their stunt could succeed is a testament to the Israeli elite’s isolation from the rest of the country. Things look quite different outside their exclusive echo chamber.

The government stood firm. The public was enraged. The pilots’ colleagues were incensed. Thousands of reserve officers, including Air Force pilots, signed petitions demanding that the IDF be left out of the public dispute over judicial reform and pledging to serve under all governments and in all circumstances.

IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi initially angered the public by refusing to publicly condemn the pilots. But on Tuesday, Halevi broke his silence. Halevi read the pilots refusing to serve the riot act behind closed doors, making it clear that if they failed to show up to reserve duty on Wednesday, they would be thrown out of the IAF. On Wednesday, they all showed up. On Thursday, Air Force commander Maj. Gen. Tomer Bar threw the group’s leader, Col. Gilad Peled, out of the squadron.

One of the justifications that leftist retired generals and leftist defenders of Israel’s legal oligarchy more generally give for their refusal to countenance the government’s efforts to place minimal limits on the power of the Supreme Court is that the Court, and the unchecked legal system as a whole, is their shield against international tribunals. With the Palestinians and their international supporters threatening to put IDF warriors—including IAF pilots—in the dock at The Hague, talk of placing checks and balances on the Supreme Court, they insist, is dangerous.

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