Diplomats stay away from work as trade unions, women’s organisations oppose changes to Israel’s judicial system

A protester carries a poster during a gathering in Tel Aviv amid ongoing demonstrations and calls for a general strike against the hard-right government’s controversial push to overhaul the justice system.
| Photo Credit: AFP

Israeli diplomats stationed in India went on a strike on Monday, the Embassy of Israel said in a statement to The Hindu. It came about when the Histadrut, Israel’s largest labour union, instructed all government employees to strike work. The action of the Israeli diplomats in India comes in the backdrop of ongoing protests in Tel Aviv against planned changes in Israel’s judicial system by the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.  

Hana Rado, founder and president of Supersonas, an organisation that champions the participation of women in Israeli national life, said the proposed reforms amount to a “ coup d’état”. Ms. Rado threatened to “shut down” the Israeli economy unless the laws were withdrawn. 

Adhering to the Histadrut’s decision, consular activities in the Embassy of Israel in India remained stalled on Monday. At the moment, it’s unclear how long the strike will last. Earlier, Israel’s Consul General in New York, Asaf Zamir, resigned citing “moral obligation” to oppose the so-called “judicial reforms” that have brought Israel to a standstill.

“When the current legislation began, quite quickly after the formation of the government, we realised that the first ones who could be harmed by it were women. The legal reform, or rather the coup d’état, led by the extreme right, led by insane people, enables a fatal violation of the rights of minorities and women among them,” Ms. Rado, who describes herself as a “practical feminist” and is the child of Holocaust survivors, said. 

The Netanyahu government plans to introduce changes in the Judicial Appointment Committee, which would allow the executive the right to intervene in the appointment of judges. Activists say that the changes, if implemented, will affect women and the LGBTQ community most adversely as the government plans to push a package of laws that are aimed at bringing in permanent changes in Israeli society, which is known to be based on an unwritten agreement between the religious right and the secular citizens of the Jewish state. 

Under the present structure of Israel, secular Jewish citizens undertake most of the activities of the state, including defence and the security of the state, while leaving the religious sections of Jewish society to carry on with their way of life. Sources said it’s feared that the new laws will introduce a theocratic element into Israeli society and take away the basic rights of women over their bodies. 

“As a citizen of a democratic country and someone who devotes her life to women, I cannot remain silent. I feel a huge responsibility to protect women who cannot do it for themselves or simply do not understand the legal implications of this reform. We will not stop until the legislation is shelved. We will shut down the economy, we will protest in the streets, and continue as long as our basic rights are not enshrined in law,” Ms. Rado said.

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