🧵/1 Israel’s Supreme Court is often seen as a bastion of liberal values in an increasingly illiberal country. But, this reputation needs another look.

Without a constitutionally backed system of checks and balances, the Court has been susceptible to rampant delegitimization.
/2 Rather than fight and lose, the Court has begun to silence itself.

The result is a once mighty institution, now afraid of its own shadow.

I write about this for @JewishCurrents here: jewishcurrents.org/the-long-reach…
/3 The pattern has worked like this:

The court rules in favor of minority rights. The executive slow-walks implementation of that ruling, and eventually the legislature passes a law that effectively voids the ruling altogether.

@sfardm on @TLV1Podcasts: tlv1.fm/the-tel-aviv-r…
/4 The result has been that any attempt to protect minority rights has culminated in the opposite: rights curbed by discriminatory legislation.

And, once that legislation is on the books, the court is hard-pressed to strike it down.
/5 So the court often decides that it is better to reach a compromise—so that it doesn't have to rule—or stay silent.

This dynamic is playing out right now with the amendment to Israel’s Citizenship Law, known as the “Family Unification Law.”
/6 Don’t be fooled by the name.

Legislated at the end of the 2nd Intifada, this law blocks Palestinian residents from the oPt who are married to Israeli citizens from obtaining citizenship in Israel.

Thousands of Palestinians can’t legally live with their spouses or children.
/7 This summer, in a 59-59 vote, the new Israeli government failed to renew this unjust law for the first time in nearly 2 decades.

On its face, it was a victory for Palestinian civil rights, at least 9,000 of whom could finally apply for permission to live with their partners.
/8 YET, even as the law is now lapsed, i.e. no longer on the books, Palestinians seeking to live with their spouses remain unable to get their legal status formalized in Israel.

The reason is not technical—it’s political.

/9 It is because far-right populist politician Ayelet Shaked, who currently serves as Israel’s Minister of the Interior, has instructed her ministry to continue to act as though the law were still in effect.

/10 Her edict was challenged in the courts by @acri_online, @HaMokedRights, and @PHRIsrael.

They recently asked that their petition move to the Supreme Court from the Court of Administrative Affairs.

/11 But should it arrive there, there is no guarantee that the Supreme Court will rule against Shaked.

The answer to the question of “why not” is at the core of my piece in @JewishCurrents

But I'll spell it out here in brief:

/12 First, the justices know that when they contradict the (often racist) whims of democratically elected legislators, right-wing populists – like Shaked – will invariably foment backlash.

And the court has little interest in turning this fight into a constitutional clash.
/13 Hassan Jabareen (@AdalahCenter) suggested that the court’s past refusals to strike down this law (he brought multiple petitions against it) is part of its effort to shore up legitimacy.

The justices' message to the Israeli right: “the court is not beholden to the left."
/14 Second, the issue of WB Palestinians moving into Israel touches directly on the court’s most sensitive nerve: the place where questions about Israel’s Jewishness, territory, & national sovereignty meet.

(sometimes euphemistically referred to as qs of “demographic balance”)
/15 Back in July, Yair Lapid tweeted: “There’s no need to shirk from the essence of this law. It is one of the tools to ensure a Jewish majority in Israel, which is the nation-state of the Jewish people. Our goal is for there to be a Jewish majority.”
/16 The court, which so many view as a bastion of liberalism upholding minority rights, has so far (since 2003) been unwilling to touch this law.

It remains to be seen what it will do if and when a civil society petition reaches its chambers.


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More from @ShevGoldberg

13 May

[NOTE: This is *one piece* of context for what is happening in Israel-Palestine right now]

1/ Nadine Awad, a talented 16-year-old Palestinian citizen of Israel, was killed alongside her father by a Hamas rocket yesterday morning in the unrecognized village of Dahmash.
2/ This tragedy due in part to the fact that Dahmash has no infrastructure whatsoever, including shelters. I've written about why this is for @TheAtlantic here: theatlantic.com/international/…
3/ But a hard look at Dahmash can help us understand some of the anger and pain of Arab citizens in Israel today -- a kind of microcosm of their struggle for recognition, land and planning rights, and simple fairness.
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