Kohelet head: Without judicial change, things will become worse 2023
Visiting the home of Prof. Moshe Koppel, the creator of Israel’s judicial reforms, is like stepping back in time. On the left side of his home’s entrance in Efrat, a settlement in Gush Etzion, is a bus stop sign from Gush Katif that was removed after the 2005 Disengagement from Gaza.
The sign lists defunct communities, and an orange ribbon, the emblem of the spectacular right-wing rallies against the withdrawal, is attached to it and fluttering in the winter wind.
In an exclusive interview with The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday, he stated of the Disengagement, “ten thousand people were expelled from their homes.” He said, “It seems like a human rights narrative.” “That seems like a minority that was obviously mistreated by the government, and not only did the Supreme Court hardly weigh in on it, but children were imprisoned for demonstrating; buses were halted in Kiryat Shmona in the north, and those on their way to march were jailed. Where was the Supreme Court at that time? Koppel asked.
Koppel is a computer science professor at Bar-Ilan University and the founding head of Kohelet, the foremost conservative-libertarian think tank in Israel. The group Kohelet, founded by Koppel and others eleven years ago, is responsible for several Israeli legislation and regulations in recent years, most notably the ongoing judicial reform.
Sitting seated at his dining room table, Koppel revealed to the Post that the last three months had been a roller coaster: “The fact is I’ve had better days.” “I welcome debate. I have no problem supporting anything that I believe to be correct. But I learned that in the press, particularly in Haaretz and its affiliated newspapers, there is a Moshe Koppel who is not me,” he said with a sour smirk and chuckle.
Koppel, perhaps one of the most intelligent persons in Israel, is a calm and sympathetic individual – a stark contrast to the way he has been presented in Haaretz and The Marker over the last decade in hundreds of stories, biographies, and investigations into his work at Kohelet.
“I try to be a thinking, considerate person, advocating causes based on serious study and what I believe to be sensible conclusions, but there’s this demonic figure in the press who is extreme and irresponsible, and I simply don’t recognize that person,” he lamented.
Koppel is concerned about the circumstance.
About the current state of affairs, Koppel is anxious. This situation has grown extremely high stakes. I don’t believe it was necessary, and the conclusion is unclear. There are several unhappy endings. Thus, it gives me a great deal of concern. I fervently desire for this problem to be resolved, preferably through a compromise that provides us with the essential elements of the reform, so that the balances between the branches of government improve.
“I fear that it could end with the entire system collapsing, in which case things would be even worse than they were before,” Koppel said with a very serious and worried expression. He said that if the reform collapses, then those who supported it, which is what he sees as a majority of Israelis, will feel that “there’s really no point in participating in the whole democratic process, because in the end, the courts are just going to do whatever they want anyway.”
He added that a second scenario is that the reform will pass with the support of 64 coalition members. In this case, “it could end with 64 MKs ramming through the reform, as was the initial plan [of the coalition leaders to vote on all of the reforms within a few weeks, before the Passover holiday], and then either we reach a constitutional crisis – because the court, without the authority to do so, would nonetheless strike it down – or we reach a constitutional impasse.”