First, like you, dear reader, I’m well aware that NY Times columnist Tom Friedman is a buffoon. And as buffoons go, he is usually quite harmless. Folks read his column and if they have any notion of reality on the ground in Israel (or anywhere else he covers), they recognize that the man is stuck in 1992 and will probably live out his remaining years there. Good enough.
But on Sunday, Friedman proved once again that idiots can be dangerous occasionally (Biden’s 46 Words About Israel at a Critical Moment). Friedman approached President Joe Biden to find out what he thinks about “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plans to strip the Israeli Supreme Court of its independence and put it instead under Netanyahu’s thumb.”
Before we get to Biden’s response, we must examine Friedman’s presentation of what he believes is the gist of Justice Minister Yariv Levin’s judicial reform (it isn’t), let’s go over what the Supreme Court is attempting to do as we speak: cancel the November 1, 2023 elections.
As I reported Saturday night (High Court, AG, Planning Coup D’état by Declaring Netanyahu ‘Incapacitated’), The High Court on Friday ordered Attorney general Gali Baharav-Miara and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to respond within a month to the petition of the Movement for Quality Government in Israel, which demands that Netanyahu be declared incapacitated for his involvement in the judicial reform.
If Friedman gets a chance to explain stuff again to Biden, he should note that declaring Netanyahu incapacitated is the equivalent of activating the 25th amendment to the US Constitution against a sitting president. Biden should know a thing or two about it – born in 1942, slurring his speech on more than one occasion, and behaving as if he is not sure where exactly he is, Biden must be aware that his crafty VP Kamala Harris and a majority of the cabinet can transmit on any given day to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.
That, Mr. Biden, is what the Israeli Supreme Court is plotting against the legally elected prime minister of Israel. How’s that for keeping the court under Netanyahu’s thumb?
President Biden is not a fool. He called on his speechwriters to come up with a statement that would make the Times readers and his Jewish voters (same thing) happy, while not getting into a tiff with one of America’s major allies. This is what they came up with:
“The genius of American democracy and Israeli democracy is that they are both built on strong institutions, on checks and balances, on an independent judiciary. Building consensus for fundamental changes is really important to ensure that the people buy into them so they can be sustained.”
It’s a good statement. Friedman and the 60 thousand or so the entitled privileged elite Israelis who roam the streets and highways of Tel Aviv at night are free to read it as Biden’s confirmation of their anti-Netanyahu verbiage. It isn’t. In fact, the first line could easily have been said by Justice Minister Yariv Levin or the Knesset Constitution, Law, and Justice Committee Chairman MK Simcha Rothman. Their entire message and mission are to restore the checks and balances that have been degraded by a Supreme Court run amok with power.
Biden is also on the money regarding the need for a broad consensus for the proposed changes. This, too, will come, as soon the Knesset passes the first bill of Levin’s reform in a first reading. The bill will then be returned to the committee, where the opposition will be forced to negotiate to reach the desired broad consensus. If they don’t, if they prefer to fire up the streets, they’ll end up being stuck with the unaltered version of the bill.
That broad consensus thing, President Biden, is not one-sided.
Friedman is an idiot, but Biden has shown a tremendous capacity for understanding political subtleties. Good for you, Joe!