Listen now (37 mins) | Yascha Mounk and Ami Ayalon discuss Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state.
[Oddly, the comment I posted yesterday doesn't appear here, though fortunately I shared it to "Notes" and managed to copy it from there.]
Let me begin by saying that I'm grateful to Ami Ayalon for his service to Israel, of which I've been a beneficiary along with the rest. So while I disagree with everything he said (maybe not including "and" and "the"), I'm not ascribing any nefarious motives to him.
That said, the idea that the judicial reform would leave the government with no effective check overlooks the fact that the High Court has no effective check 𝘳𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵 𝘯𝘰𝘸. Anyone can bring an action against anything done by the government and the Court recognizes no limit of standing or justiciability, nor does it feel constrained to base its decisions on the legal code. It has used this assumed authority in ways that have trampled the rights of citizens, including minorities, and will presumably continue to do so if not constrained.
Still, I don't consider Israel a dictatorship, nor moving in the direction of a dictatorship, because -- without getting too complex about it -- I have a sense of proportion and a sense of the country. By the same token, were the government to pass a judicial-override law the situation would be much the same, despite Mr. Ayalon's doomsaying.
Some other random objections:
Ayalon says we need a constitution, but Chief Justice Emeritus Aharon Barak, at the very beginning of his "Constitutional Revolution" which brought us to this point, famously said that Israel's Basic Laws serve as a Constitution, so it's not clear what's missing.
When asked wherein lies the state's Jewishness under Ayalon's ideal (and thank you Mr. Mounk for asking these pointed questions), he replied that Democracy has its roots in the Biblical idea of all people being created in God's image. So, essentially, the Jewishness amounts to Democracy, such that a Jewish and Democratic state is just a Democratic and Democratic state. Not a very satisfying answer to anyone would wants and actual Jewish state.
As for his ideas about Israel and Palestinians, well, they're basically the same ideas that have been making the rounds for decades without anything good to show, but that's a bigger conversation.