Jacob Frankel, who served as Governor of the Bank of Israel from 1991 to 2000, spoke at a protest on Kaplan Street in Tel Aviv Saturday night and warned against the severe economic consequences that the “judicial coup d’état” legislation would bring on.
Before we continue, it should be noted that Frankel’s stint as bank governor included his attempt to hide the recommendation of a committee to remove the power to change interest rates from the governor and give it to a monetary committee, which would have spared millions of Israelis their current struggle with deadly ballooning mortgages care of the current bank governor.
Frankel was forced to resign during his second term and was made to return thousands of shekels he claimed as his expenses.
The former bank governor told the Kaplan protesters that the fact that eliminating the Reasonability clause by law last week despite the warnings of the economists was tantamount to crossing the Rubicon, and warned that “if the government does not come to its senses, there will be consequences, and they will hit us hard.”
Julius Caesar crossed the river Rubicon in today’s France in January 49 BCE, which was the point of no return, following which a civil war broke out in Rome. It’s a tad overdramatic if you ask me, to compare to crossing the Rubicon a vote that eliminated a privilege the Israeli courts usurped 30 years ago and used at industrial proportions to overrule government decisions regardless of the written law.
Frankel shared a conversation he had last week with investors in New York, who, he said, wondered “what happened to Israel.” He added: “What happened that within six months the State of Israel underwent such a dramatic change? We have never experienced such great destruction of value in such a short time. Not by enemies from outside – but by government policy. And all this – for what?”
It’s a little bit like the guy who set fire to his neighborhood, then barricaded all fire truck access, and finally complained at all the smoldering ruins. There was no reason on earth for the proposed change in the committee to appoint judges or the reasonability clause to cause any economic consequences whatsoever. The only reason for those was a well-planned, well-financed, and incredibly well-executed campaign to undermine the country’s economy as a means of using the judicial reform to bring down the Netanyahu government.
Judging by the ample documentation of Ehud Barak’s plans for a Bolshevik-style revolution, complete with Jewish bodies floating in the Yarkon River (Netanyahu Warns: Israel Is on the Brink of a Military Coup), Israel’s economy would have been undermined if instead of judicial reform, the government would have pushed regulations mandating vaccinations against a pandemic. Yes, folks, when Ehud Barak was lecturing Israel Air Force pilots at a 555 Forum Zoom meeting, he had in mind protests against Netanyahu’s excessive zeal in halting the coronavirus.
Frankel noted the damage that has already been done to the economy since Minister Yariv Levin’s initial presentation of his judicial reform, back in February, and the “colossal blow,” as he put it, the high-tech industry suffered. He also mentioned the plans of high-tech folks, as well as scientists and doctors, to emigrate.
“These are just the first buds,” Frankel said. “We don’t feel the real consequences yet. But if the government doesn’t come to its senses, they will come and hit us hard. And all this for what?”
Funny he should ask. As was expressed by several Likud members over the weekend, the main reason they added their votes to the unanimous vote in favor of eliminating the reasonability clause regarding government decisions had less to do with their support for the bill and a whole lot more with their conviction that if they were to surrender to the pressures coming most notably from military reservists, that would be the end of Israeli democracy as we know it. It was a military coup d’état waiting to happen, and someone had to stop it.
Now, as I expect, Netanyahu is not going to allow his justice minister to move forward with his judicial reform and has enlisted at least nine Likud MKs to help him cut down the move entirely (MK Gottlieb: Likud ‘Rebellion’ Fueled by Netanyahu to Weaken Justice Minister Levin). But this will not stop the protesters, because their target is not this or that legislation but the downfall of the right-wing government.
I’ve heard it be said over the weekend that the only reason the Lapid government collapsed had to do with some of its members’ refusal to bring in a second Arab party into the coalition. In 2022, it was too much for Gideon Sa’ar, Benny Gantz, and certainly Avigdor Liberman, to share power with nationalist and communist Arab politicians, in addition to the Muslim Brotherhood party, Ra’am.
Rest assured: next time, with the right winning its traditional 57 to 58 mandates, the Lapid coalition (it might be Gantz) would have no hesitation to add all the Arabs in the Knesset for the first truly post-Zionist Israeli government.
But they can’t move ahead with this ghoulish plan as long as the Netanyahu government is sitting pretty. They must bring it down, even at the cost of crushing Israel’s economy.