Facing court and civil challenges to judicial overhaul, Israel’s government attacks peace education.
The Parents Circle – Families Forum, a nonprofit organisation with both Palestinian and Israeli bereaved families – will no longer be allowed to operate activities in Israeli schools.
The Education Ministry made the announcement following pressure from right-wing groups, who recently won a major victory in the government’s judicial overhaul.
The ministry announced it has removed the organisation from the list of approved external programs in schools after a hearing on the matter. TExternal programs manager Lilah Appleton said the Forum’s goals “are in contradiction to the values of the Education Ministry.”
The decisions means that advocates for peace and reconciliation such as Rami Elhanan and Bassam Aramin ,who recently spoke to more than 2600 people in Australia, will no longer be permitted to share their stories of pain, grief and hope in the Israeli school system.
Many Israelis are reeling from the passing of the first law in the Netanyahu coalition’s judicial overhaul last week, despite massive protests and polls showing most Israelis oppose the changes.
The President of the Supreme Court, Justice Esther Hayut, announced on Monday that the High Court will convene on September 12 to hear petitions on the law to abolish the reasonableness standard – a key part of the Netanyahu government’s plan to weaken the country’s judiciary. Hayut said that all 15 Supreme Court justices will take part in the discussions, an unprecedented action by the court.
Netanyahu has repeatedly refused to commit to abiding by a court ruling if it strikes down the reasonableness law.
When asked by NBC News in an interview that aired on Monday if he would abide by such a potential ruling, the Prime Minister did not answer directly.
“I think we have to follow two rules. One is, Israeli governments abide by the decisions of the Supreme Court. And at the same time, the Supreme Court respects the Basic Laws [such as the law passed last week], which are the closest thing we have to a constitution. I think we should keep both principles, and I hope we do,” he said.
The Bank of Israel warned on Wednesday that growing and prolonged uncertainty around the judicial overhaul poses a threat to the country’s financial system and economy. In its Financial Stability Report for the first half of 2023 report, the Bank raised its assessment of the level of risk to Israel’s macroeconomic environment to “medium-high,” from “medium-low,” citing concerns of legal and institutional changes leading to a slowdown in the tech sector and a weakening of the shekel exchange rate. Private funding for Israeli tech startups has slumped to five-year low, at a time US trends are stabilising.
Israeli funding from the Diaspora is also being affected. This week, the Dan David Foundation, a major US Jewish donor, froze its Israeli projects, joining widespread Diaspora protests at the law.
A surge in emigration is predicted with the health system likely to be impacted. There are reports of a surge in Israeli doctors wanting to emigrate at any cost – some even offering to work for free. The UAE is hoping to woo Israeli doctors who want to leave, offering salaries three times higher than those in Israel and other benefits to physicians who want to leave.
Leading Israelis have called on the US to apply more pressure, with a key article in the Washington publication The Hill comparing the situation to the pressure applied to South Africa during the apartheid years.
Israel’s democracy movement is ready for a fight — and we need your help (Ami Ayalon, Gilead Sher and Orni Petruschka, The Hill)
We recall a meeting with F.W. de Klerk, the former South African leader, who explained what caused him to turn his back on apartheid some three decades before. He said it was the combination of international pressure with the insurrection from within. Despite the differences between the two cases, we fear it will have to happen to Israel, as well.
Will these arguments persuade Israel’s supreme court to overturn the start of Netanyahu’s judicial coup? (Allison Kaplan Sommer, Haaretz)
On September 12, Israel’s top court will hear at least seven petitions calling for the disqualification of a new law that gives Netanyahu’s government legal immunity from “extremely unreasonable” decisions. These are the key legal arguments they hope will prove decisive in a key battle for Israeli democracy.
With the judicial overhaul, Netanyahu has broken something deeper than Israel’s democracy (Dany Bahar, The Forward)
The Prime Minister sacrificed social cohesion for personal ambition.
Photo: Members of The Parents Circle – Families Forum share their stories with Tel Aviv high school students (Hadas Parush)