Monday may have been a turning point in the global battle between the forces of nationalism and national self-determination on the one hand, and the forces pushing for a post-nationalist world with open borders on the other.
While most eyes were on the U.S., where President Donald Trump used his Twitter feed to force the Mexican government to prevent a “caravan” of approximately 1,100 migrants from Central America from approaching the northern border, an even greater drama was unfolding in Israel.
Whereas Trump’s efforts are directed towards stopping the flow of illegal migrants across America’s porous southern border, in Israel the flow of illegal aliens into its territory from Africa has already been stopped.
In 2013, Israel completed construction of a barrier along its 150-mile land border with Egypt. In the years before the “wall” was constructed Israel, was flooded with thousands of illegal migrants from Eritrea, Sudan, and Somalia. On a per capita basis, Israel had accepted more illegal aliens than Spain. But by 2017, with the barrier in place, illegal migration ended completely.
After the flow of illegals ended, Israel was left with the issue of how to manage the 40,000 illegal immigrants from Africa who had entered the country before the “wall” was built. Those migrants, who live primarily in the poor neighborhoods of south Tel Aviv, have turned those neighborhoods into violent crime-plagued zones.
In light of these basic facts, the Knesset (the Israeli parliament) passed laws mandating the migrants’ removal from the country. Unfortunately, a consortium of Israeli and international forces have come together to prevent the government from enforcing those laws.
On Monday, their campaign accomplished its goal. Israel effectively agreed to give up its efforts to remove most of the African migrants.
On Monday afternoon, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Interior Minister Aryeh Deri held a joint press conference where they announced that they had ditched the government’s plan to deport illegal aliens from Eritrea, Sudan, and Somalia to other countries in Africa. In its place, they had concluded a deal with the UNHCR that would see 16,250 illegal migrants — or roughly 40 percent of the total — settled in Western countries. Netanyahu mentioned Canada, Germany, and Italy as destinations.
The rest, he said, would remain in Israel for a period of not less than five years.
Netanyahu said the government had no choice but to cut the deal because Rwanda, the country that had agreed to accept the migrants, reneged on the deal. At the same time, he noted, Israel’s Supreme Court had blocked every other option the government had developed for expelling them.
Israel’s political left, including most of its media organs, responded positively to the news. Like the media in the U.S., they equated citizens’ desire to preserve their nation’s identity with racism.
Netanyahu, they declared triumphantly, had finally accepted the responsibility of leadership and recognized that leadership means betraying racist voters.
Netanyahu’s voters and coalition members, including members of his governing Likud party, were appalled. They condemned the deal as a surrender of Israeli sovereignty. Education Minister Naftali Bennet, who heads the Jewish Home Party (which competes for the same voters as Likud), led the assault against the deal. Bennet charged that the deal “will turn Israel into a paradise for infiltrators.”
Gideon Sa’ar, Likud’s former interior minister — who many consider Netanyahu’s chief rival for his party’s leadership — also attacked the deal.
“The agreement to keep most infiltrators in Israel is a grave mistake. It shows weakness, renunciation of [Israeli] sovereignty, and encourages illegal immigration to Israel,” Sa’ar said.
In response to the outcry, on late Monday night Netanyahu announced that he was suspending the agreement pending discussions with south Tel Aviv residents the next morning. By Tuesday afternoon, Netanyahu announced that he was cancelling the deal.
Why did Netanyahu feel compelled to accept the UN agreement? Who were the forces that blocked the government from implementing the laws the Knesset had passed, which mandated deporting the migrants who had entered Israel illegally?
As political philosopher Yoram Hazony, author of the soon-to-be-released book The Virtue of Nationalism, explains: “The international left has decided to wage war on the idea of borders and idea that states should be able to maintain and defend a unique national identity and heritage.
“The very idea that Israel should be different from other nations is itself seen as troubling, so naturally any policy aimed at protecting such difference is condemned as morally wrong. Liberal imperialists who want to see all countries adopt the same cookie-cutter set of liberal values can’t help finding fault with what Israel is.”
In Israel’s case, the anti-nationalist liberal imperialist coalition has four parts.
First, and most importantly, there is the Israeli judiciary. In the 1990s, Israel’s then-Supreme Court President Aharon Barak undertook what he referred to as a “judicial revolution.” By applying radical interpretations to a series of basic laws Israel’s Knesset had naively passed in the early 1990s, Barak arrogated to the Court the right to abrogate laws that had been duly passed. He also coined the term “Everything is Justicible,” and effectively gave the Court the right to rule on any issue it wished by giving legal standing to any party it wished to hear.
These two moves empowered a slew of radical leftist non-governmental organizations (NGOs), financed by foreign money, to petition the Court to overturn not only laws, but also government policies. Working hand-in-glove with these radical groups, over the past 25 years the Court has overruled government decisions and Knesset laws on everything from the Israeli military’s counterterrorism tactics; to the government’s right to conclude business deals with international corporations; to the government’s prerogative to select the military chief of general staff and the attorney general; to the government’s ability to enforce Israel’s immigration laws.
The cumulative impact of this judicial tyranny has been the gutting of the powers of the Knesset and the government to fulfill their duty to advance the will of the voters.
The second partner in this assault on Israel’s sovereignty is a consortium of radical, anti-Israel NGOs registered in Israel. Together and separately, they frequently petition the court against laws and government policies. Together and separately, they lobby foreign governments to oppose Israel, and run public campaigns in foreign countries to slander Israel and its right to self-determination.
The third partner in the coalition is a consortium of far-left American Jewish groups led by a radical multi-million dollar foundation called the New Israel Fund. The New Israel Fund has been the subject of multiple investigative reports in Israel over the past 15 years. It has become shorthand for radical left political warfare against the state. The NIF supports the operations of Israeli NGOs that commit lawfare and political warfare against the state at home and abroad. According to Im Tirzu, Israel’s conservative student organization, NIF has donated $14.2 million to Israeli-registered NGOs that are campaigning against deporting the illegal migrants.
In his press conference Monday, and in his later statements this week, Netanyahu allegedthat the NIF had lobbied European governments to pressure Rwanda to cancel its agreement with Israel to accept the deported migrants.
In other words, the NIF stands accused of deliberately undermining the foreign policy of the government of Israel.
When Netanyahu announced that he was abrogating his agreement with the UN, he called for the establishment of a parliamentary inquiry into the operations of the NIF.
This, then brings us to the fourth partner in the coalition against Israeli sovereignty: the EU.
According to Im Tirtzu, the governments of Europe and the EU have donated $16.2 million to the Israeli NGOs that ran the campaign against deporting the illegal aliens. And according to Netanyahu, the EU played a central role in forcing Rwanda to renege on its agreement to accept the deportees.
Working together, over the past three years, the four sides of the anti-Israeli sovereignty coalition overturned all three laws the Knesset had passed mandating the expulsion of the illegal migrants, and they ran a worldwide campaign to demonize Israel for its efforts to deport them.
But this week, the Rubicon was crossed. The public outcry against the deal was so immediate and so overwhelming that it forced two things to happen.
First, Netanyahu cancelled the deal with the UN. Second, and far more significantly, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon announced he will support a new law that bars the Supreme Court from overturning Knesset legislation on illegal immigration.
Since Netanyahu formed his current government in 2015, Kahlon’s soft-right Kulanu party has blocked every effort to reform the judiciary. His announcement signals that the Court has lost its immunity from Knesset oversight for the first time.
Following Monday’s events, many Israeli commentators have noted that the day’s drama made clear what the critical issue will be in next year’s general elections. The vote will not be about the Palestinians or the economy. The power of the court will be the decisive issue.
And the party that convinces the public it will restore the balance of power between the three branches of government by checking the power of Israel’s Supreme Court will win.