Israel’s Thin Democratic Veneer Begins to Slip

Joseph Dana
4 min readMar 8, 2023
Israeli reserve soldiers, veterans and activists protest outside the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, against the government’s planned reforms, February 10, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Cracks are starting to appear in Israel’s robust public relations strategy. It has taken decades for the Israeli government to convince supportive governments in the West, most notably the United States, that the country was a full-fledged democracy. The apparent hurdle has been the unavoidable reality of Israel’s control of millions of Palestinians. In the face of this glaring inequality, the country has managed to market itself as the Middle East’s only democracy. This core talking point for Israel’s supporters worldwide is now at risk.

Israel’s recently elected government — the most openly right-wing in the country’s history — is pushing a proposal that would effectively remove the power of the Supreme Court. With a simple majority, the Israeli parliament could overrule the Supreme Court and set unchecked laws on everything from free speech to voting rights. The proposed law, which has passed the first of three readings in parliament, includes a provision that laws passed by the parliament are unreviewable by the Israeli court system. According to Israeli law professor Gila Stopler, the stage has been “set for the deepest and most dangerous constitutional — and even existential — crisis in Israel’s history.”

As noted above, Israel is not a full-fledged democracy because it denies millions of Palestinians under its control rights on both…