Speaking about the issue of judicial reform, Zionist Organization of America President Morton Klein tells Israel National News that the United States government has no right to interfere in internal Israeli policy.
“Israel is a sovereign country. As Menachem Begin said, ‘Israel is not a banana republic.’ They have no right to interfere in a domestic issue. Judicial reform is a serious domestic issue. It’s not America’s business how Israel deals with their judiciary,” he says.
He slammed US Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides as “being completely wrong about this.”
He denounced Nides for being obsessively focused on judicial reform but appearing to ignore Palestinian Authority glorification of terrorism and cited a recent speech in Egypt by PA President Mahmoud Abbas who claimed all of historic “Palestine” belonged to the Palestinian Arabs, to which there was no rebuke by the Biden administration.
“I find this interference by my country America and the outrageous actions that are hostile to Israel just unacceptable and intolerable," Klein says.
"I’m very angry at the Jewish leaders in America and the rabbis in America for not making a public issue out of this. But when it comes to Smotrich they make a big issue, not because of what Smotrich said during a time of enormous emotion of Jews being murdered almost every day. They are attacking Smotrich because they don’t like his policy on judicial reform, not because they are horrified by what he said for which he apologized and said, ‘Look I was emotionally distraught.’”
He said that the ZOA is working on a strong response to the position of Nides, including in an op-ed, that will let the ambassador know that America needs to stay out of domestic policy in Israel.
He described judicial reform as “totally legitimate and necessary.”
“It is taking Israel from an extreme position with the judiciary to normal,” he said. “The media is saying it’s going from normal to extreme, it’s the opposite.”
He gives his support to a Supreme Court override, saying that one is necessary because the current 15 members of the court are not changing any time soon.
“There should be an override. And it should be now because the 15 members of the Supreme Court are still there. That’s not changing. That’s why the override needs to happen now and can’t wait years.”
He stresses that judicial reform is being twisted for international audiences into a “maniacal, lunatic move that will make Supreme Court issues extreme. When it’s the opposite.”
“People don’t understand that the Supreme Court overrules black and white law. They are supposed to interpret law, not say, ‘This is not reasonable, we’re ignoring the law,’” he says.
He blasted the media for bias in reporting on the issue.
“The media is portraying it as eliminating the power of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court will still rule and if they rule reasonably without overruling black and white Knesset law there will be no override,” he says. “But there should be an override because this Supreme Court that is sitting now is ignoring Knesset law and just ruling based on what they think is right. That’s not the role of a judge.”
Responding to claims that the reform will create a rift between Israel and the diaspora, he explains that in speaking all over the US to large audiences of several hundreds to a thousand in the last few months, judicial reform gets a huge applause when American Jews understand the true facts of the issue.
“They say, ‘You're right, it should be changed.’ The problem is the left in America is led by Peace Now and the Reform movement and and others not telling the truth about what this law really is, and why there's indeed for this law,” he says.
“Once the Jews of America understand that there is no problem, they will say this is the right thing to do, they will support it, as they do whenever I speak about it."