Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) National President Morton A. Klein released the following statement:
Biden’s Latest Improper Interference in Israel’s Proposed Internal Democratic Judicial Reforms: Biden stated that he hopes that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu “walks away” from the Israeli government’s proposed judicial reforms. In addition, the same day, Biden stated that he was “very concerned” about the health of democracy in Israel; that he was “concerned that they get this straight. They cannot continue down this road.”; that “hopefully, the prime minister will act in a way that he is going to try to work out some genuine compromise. But that remains to be seen.”; and that Biden will not be inviting Prime Minister Netanyahu to the White House “in the near term.”
Also, when Biden was asked about not interfering with Israel’s domestic politics, Biden inarticulately claimed that he didn’t want to interfere, that he doesn’t interfere [which is it?], but then revealed that he was making his position clear to Israel, and implied that the “American Jewish position” was similar to Biden’s stance.
Biden stated: “We don’t want to interfere. It’s a little bit like if all the things — things are exploding in America. What do you think would happen if, all of a sudden — well, I know — I’m not going to even speculate. Anyway, we’re not interfering. They know my position. They know America’s position. They know the American Jewish position, the Amer- — anyway.’ (White House transcript of Biden’s remarks before Air Force One departure on March 28, 2023.)
Biden’s statements criticizing Israel’s judicial reforms, while claiming that he doesn’t want to interfere or doesn’t interfere, were yet another hypocritical example of his administration’s improper and misleading interference in Israel’s domestic affairs.
Biden’s claims that his administration is not interfering are also belied by his U.S. State Department’s funding of the so-called “Movement for Quality Government,” which has been organizing the disruptive and even violent protests against the Israeli government’s proposed democratic judicial reforms. (See “ZOA Condemns U.S. State Dept. Funding Anti-Israel Protest Organizers in Israel,” Mar. 13, 2023.)
Biden’s interference and claims to be “very concerned” about the health of Israeli democracy are also particularly egregious because, as ZOA and others have previously explained in detail, Israel’s proposed judicial reforms would make Israel more democratic. The reforms would protect the Israeli public from a self-appointed Israeli Supreme Court that ignores Israel’s democratically-enacted laws and instead overrules and ignores Israeli law and makes decisions based on the judges’ personal whims as to what is “reasonable.” (See, e.g., “Israeli Judicial Reforms Are Good for Democracy and Rule of Law,” by Morton Klein & Elizabeth Berney, Esq., Jerusalem Post, Feb. 13, 2023.)
Democracy is rule by, for and of the people. It is the essence of democracy to have the public’s duly-elected representatives nominate and select judges. Indeed, in the American democratic system, the duly elected U.S. president nominates Supreme Court justices; the duly-elected Senate confirms the justices; and duly-elected Congress members have the power to impeach the justices. The Israeli government’s reform proposals would make Israel’s judicial system more like American democracy, by letting democratically-elected representatives have more of a say in judicial selection. Yet Biden is absurdly interfering with and criticizing the Israeli government for trying to make its system more democratic and more like the U.S. system!
It was also offensive for Biden to imply that “the American Jewish position” is identical to Biden’s views. American Jews are not a monolith. Many American Jews – including many of the Zionist Organization of America’s members, activists and friends, and the Jews that give Mort Klein standing ovations after he talks about why he supports judicial reform, also support the much-needed Israeli judicial reforms – and oppose Biden’s wrong-headed criticisms.
To borrow a phrase from the president, it’s the Biden administration that “cannot continue down this road.”
More of Biden’s Hypocrisy: The day after criticizing Israel’s government for wanting to enact appropriate and necessary democratic judicial reforms, Biden effusively praised South Korean institutions as democratic, saying “The Republic of Korea’s democratic institutions are a beacon of strength in the Indo-Pacific and demonstrate to the world that democracy fosters the conditions needed to cultivate continued security and prosperity.” (See “Joint Statement by President Biden and President Yoon on the Third Summit for Democracy,” Mar. 29, 2023.)
Notably, South Korea’s elected officials primarily choose its judges: The South Korean president chooses Supreme Court judges with the consent of the South Korean National Assembly.
So, according to President Biden, when Korean elected officials choose Korean Supreme Court judges, it’s a “beacon of democracy” – but if Israeli reforms enable Israeli elected officials to have more of a say in choosing Israeli Supreme Court judges, the “health of Israeli democracy” is at risk. What hypocrisy!
In addition, President Biden and his administration have been silent about real violations of democracy – such as Palestinian Authority terrorist dictator Mahmoud Abbas’ complete takeover of the Palestinian judiciary a few months ago. In October 2022, dictator Abbas – whose elective term ended fourteen (14) years ago, established by decree a “Supreme Council of Judicial Bodies and Authorities” under his full control. Unelected dictator Abbas now picks all of the Palestinian Authority’s judges, with no elected body having any say in the matter. (See “Abbas Forms New High Judicial Council, Appoints Himself Head,” Middle East Monitor, Oct. 29, 2022.)
The Biden administration has also been silent about Mahmoud Abbas repeatedly issuing illegal presidential decrees, and recently disbanding the elected Palestinian Doctors’ Syndicate (the medical union), and replacing it with unelected officials decreed by Abbas. (See “Emergencies Only: Doctors Implement Comprehensive Strike Action,” by Ehab Tahboub, J24, Oct. 27, 2022.) Such hypocrisy!
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