Israel’s Democracy Hangs In The Balance

By Gil Mandelzis

My native Israel recently celebrated 75 years of independence. Yet, in recent months, its budding democracy has been under siege from within. A proposed overhaul to the judicial system by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his administration would diminish, if not eliminate, the checks and balances within the country and pose meaningful risk to Israel’s future.

Search less. Close more.

Grow your revenue with all-in-one prospecting solutions powered by the leader in private-company data.

The proposed “reform” would allow a simple majority of parliament to veto any Supreme Court ruling (past or present); eliminate the reasonableness standard that gives courts the option to invalidate political appointments of people deemed unfit; give the governing coalition on the Judicial Appointments Committee a majority, enabling them to appoint the head of the Supreme Court and other judges; and weaken the status of government ministry legal advisers regardless of party affiliation.

Gil Mandelzis, founder and CEO of Capitolis.
Gil Mandelzis, founder and CEO of Capitolis.

Put plainly: In a country with no constitution, the ruling coalition will be able to do pretty much whatever it wants. For instance, appointing as minister a twice-convicted felon whose appointment was overruled by the Supreme Court. Sound crazy?

This is one of the things they’re trying to achieve. It’s a full-out assault on the foundation of Israel’s democracy, and let’s be very clear — this is not about left or right — it is about the very foundation and structure within which left and right can operate. Or not.

Effects on tech startups

The ramifications could be dramatic. The proposed reform could be a real blow to the “startup nation,” specifically the technology sector, which accounts for 15% of the country’s gross domestic product and more than half of its exports, according to the Israel Innovation Authority. This latest wave of unrest may leave business leaders across the globe rethinking their Israeli presence, uncertain of the nation’s future. Moody’s even recently downgraded Israel’s outlook.

In defense of our hard-won Israeli democracy, millions of protestors — left and right voters — have taken to the streets. There have been nationwide work stoppages. The tech sector has been very vocal in leading and participating in the pushback. Will it be enough?

The protests gained some traction: a temporary reprieve with dialogue taking place under the umbrella of Israel’s president. Is this a meaningful hiatus or misdirection? As such, a dark cloud remains.

If the administration follows the worst-case scenario, the fabric of Israel’s democracy will be left in tatters.

I am the founder and CEO of Capitolis, with offices in Tel Aviv and Israeli investors. For the past 25 years I have started and run fintech companies, always with a strong Israeli presence and hundreds of employees. I proudly brought investors and investments to Israel. I believe passionately in Israel’s amazing achievements, all now under severe threat.

So here we stand — on the precipice. International pressure continues to be ratcheted up; protests carry on; I am inspired and in awe of the people’s strength. The passionate civil participation demonstrates the beautiful power of the people and democracy. This gives me hope that we’ll land on the right side of history, and Israel will fend off this attack from within.


Gil Mandelzis is a serial entrepreneur and CEO in financial technology with a successful record of creating disruptive products and companies and leading them through global scaling. Currently, he is the Founder and CEO of Capitolis, a revolutionary fintech transforming capital markets.

Stay up to date with recent funding rounds, acquisitions, and more with the Crunchbase Daily.

Copy link