We are busy reading about what the next government in Israel is going to look like. Who will be in power and who will be left to be loitering on the periphery? There are certainly difficult and even tough choices that leaders there will have to make. But regardless of who sits in the coalition these will be largely cosmetic changes as Israel continues on the course it has chartered from its inception in 1948 to this point.
For Moshe Eyal and The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, the outside cosmetic changes are not very indicative of any significant internal shifts as governments come and go. Eyal and his staff of 350 attorneys in Israel are working diligently to execute change from the inside of the mechanism and infrastructure that makes day to day Israel functional.
Eyal on a visit to New York last week cites several areas of Israeli life that his group is focused on. He says that regardless of decisions that are made with great pomp, publicity and hoopla in the political arena, if the law itself does not support those decisions then they will fail to be implemented and will gradually just fade away from the limelight and discussion.
“Just look at what happened during the past year in solid settlement communities like Ulpana (near Bet-El) and Migron,” he says. While the Netanyahu government and probably an overwhelming majority of Knesset Members were opposed to forcibly evacuating people from their homes and destroying those homes, the law supported that those evacuations and destruction take place. This is what Moshe Eyal and his group are already battling with gradual and consistent success.
“In today’s political arena, harnessing the full power of the law is a crucial element to any successful activism,” he says. “The fight for Jewish rights in Israel faces fierce opposition from radical pro–Palestinian NGO’s supported by the NIF, EU and the Ford Foundation. In addition an anti-settler bias must be addressed within the Israeli Supreme Court —in order to counter the effect of anti-Israel international tribunals, anti-Zionist academia and a hesitant Knesset stance on these issues,” he adds.
So while there may be a right wing government bring cooked up today by the political negotiators, the laws that govern the day to day policies of the country are being administered by people with an anti-settler and often an anti-religious agenda. This, Eyal points out, is not only true of the oversized government bureaucracy but is a symptom that exists and can be found in the judiciary, the police department, the media and in high schools and universities throughout Israel.
So if Israel as a complete entity is going to change it almost has to be from the bottom up rather than just rearranging ministers at the Netanyahu cabinet table and then downward from there.
And Eyal is very encouraged by the progress that his team of lawyers has been able to accomplish of late. One of their proudest accomplishments was the selection of Noam Sohlberg as a justice on the Israeli Supreme Court. Sohlberg is the first justice to live in the territories of Judea and Samaria as a resident of Alon Shvut. The hope is that with representation on the court the justices will finally hear from a representative of those communities on matters that impact on those communities directly.
That Israel actually selected a justice that resides in an over the green line community sent shock waves of sorts through the Israel judicial system. The unarticulated little secret in Israel is that 46 years after the Six Day War and the liberation of the territories, Jerusalem and the Golan Heights—establishment Israel has to this point not viewed these areas as realistically part of the state of Israel. Now, however, that there is a Supreme Court Justice from that part of the country, the court and indeed the judiciary in general will be forced to deal with issues that affect them much differently.