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Israel on the Brink: Mass Protests Erupt Over Contentious Court Reforms

By Jake Beardslee · July 13, 2023

The proposed changes to the oversight laws for the Supreme Court by the Israeli government have sparked widespread protests over the future of Israeli democracy, with former IDF spokesperson, Jonathan Conricus, urging a temporary halt on the legislation due to its potential impact on the military and the threat of violence.   Ilan Costica, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Former Israeli Defense Forces spokesperson, Jonathan Conricus, told France 24 of his deep concerns over growing unrest in Israel in response to the Netanyahu government’s push for major judicial reforms. Conricus believes the reforms are a potential threat to the Jewish state’s democratic system. The government’s proposed changes to the oversight laws for the Supreme Court have sparked widespread demonstrations across the nation.

Conricus said many Israelis believe their democracy is at risk, while others are confused. He also noted some Israelis believe the government is merely trying to fix existing issues. Raising concerns over the impact of these events on the military, Conricus said, “Unlike so many other countries, democracies in the world, Israel is under threat and we need a strong, coherent and well functioning, regular military as well as reserves…What we see now happening is that these events and legislation, and the protest against legislations, are really influencing the defense establishment and putting a question mark above…the ability of the IDF to mobilize troops if and when necessary. And I think that is a dangerous thing that the government…needs to be very, very careful not to jeopardize.”

The former IDF spokesperson also raised alarms over the risk that protests could turn violent, warning, “I’m not sure that we are looking at…Parisian scenarios or really big violent clashes between police and demonstrators. That’s not Israeli style, and that isn’t the norm. And that’s not what we’ve seen in the last half year of demonstrations. But that is definitely something that I know police are concerned with.” He urged the government to listen to the opposition legislators and protestors, suggesting a temporary halt to the legislation.

Conricus also addressed the issue of reservists threatening to no longer serve due to the legislative overhaul, stating, “I the legislation or part of it goes ahead, that will be a substantial breach of the agreement between people serving in the military reserves or regular [military] who are willing to risk their life and and do it for their country, and really breaking that bond…betweenpeople willing to serve and the state for which they are serving. And many people feel very strongly about that.” He called for compromise, urging the government to adjust the legal system in a way that is inclusive and representative of a majority of Israelis, without compromising the democratic nature of the state.

The situation in Israel remains tense, with the potential for further escalation. The government’s proposed changes to the oversight laws for the Supreme Court have sparked widespread protests and raised concerns about the future of Israeli democracy. 

Light Wave commentary

The mass protests in Israel against the government’s judicial reforms are a testament to the deep concerns regarding the potential threat to the country’s democratic system. Former IDF spokesperson Jonathan Conricus points out that these reforms risk jeopardizing many democratic values that Israel holds dear. The government must carefully consider the impact of its actions, as they not only affect the defense establishment, but also have the potential to escalate tensions and unravel the nation’s social fabric. It is crucial for the government to listen to the concerns of opposition leaders and protesters in order to foster compromise and ensure an inclusive and representative legal system.