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The Forum > Article Comments > Israel is on the brink of a disaster. Will history repeat itself? > Comments

Israel is on the brink of a disaster. Will history repeat itself? : Comments

By Alon Ben-Meir, published 27/7/2023

The battle over Israelís democracy, if not its very soul, has been raging since the current Netanyahu government came to power seven months ago.

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It was inevitable when you have part of a population raised in a current democratic milieu and another part steeped in medieval superstition, and the latter has a much higher birth rate. The latter part is also subsidized by the state to continue on that course.

The medieval part opposed Zionism when it was first proposed and are content to destroy the resulting state. Maybe they feel God will give them another one.
Posted by david f, Thursday, 27 July 2023 9:04:52 AM
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Hear, hear and well said Sir! More power to your pen!
Alan B.
Posted by Alan B., Thursday, 27 July 2023 10:46:16 AM
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First, I thank David F. for his excellent response!

---

I am undoubtedly on the author's side, but while I agree with many of his sentiments, I cannot agree over some of his claims:

"In a democracy, there is a clear separation between the state and religion, and there is no discrimination on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, language, or culture."

No, this is the author's wish-list. We may all like the above, but it has little to do with democracy itself.

Democracy is not a be-all-and-end-all, but a kind of compromise.
It would be unreasonable to expect democracy to fulfill our wish-list, or even to assume that a democracy must automatically be moral, just or kind.

Despite our rosy wishes, when a 51% democratic majority, in order to perpetuate its majority castrates the other 49%, that is still a democracy. This is the sort of what we now see in Israel, which is terrible, yet Netanyahu's claim that his legislation strengthens democracy is still technically correct.

"it was essentially a tied vote-2.36 million eligible voters voted for the pro-Netanyahu bloc, and roughly 2.31 million voted for the opposition parties-approximately 39 percent versus 38.9 percent of eligible voters. Over 1.3 million eligible voters did not vote"

The author forgot to mention those who voted for parties that failed to pass the undemocratic threshold, presently 3.25% of votes, below which a party is totally written off: especially those who voted for the Meretz left-wing party which received "only" 3.16% of the votes. Had that undemocratic measure not been in place, Netanyahu would not have his majority today!

"this government has even expanded the religious party's authority. Other than their traditional control over marriage, divorce, and rites of passage such as bar mitzvahs, circumcisions, and burials"

For the sake of accuracy, [so-called]religious parties had no control over rites of passage. Bar Mitzvahs and circumcisions are not compulsory in Israel and alternate forms are allowed. The rest is true to a large extent, even then not absolutely.

[continued...]
Posted by Yuyutsu, Thursday, 27 July 2023 3:18:05 PM
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[...continued]

"The occupation has been eroding Israel's democracy from day one"

Indeed, absolutely, but the 1967 occupation was not carried out by the present "medieval (thanks for this term, David F.)" government - it was done by a Mapai (socialist/Labor)-led government that was no less corrupt and oppressive than Netanyahu's present coalition!

It was that utterly-corrupt Mapai government which ruled Israel in its first decades and started this present rift within Israel. The roots of Netanyahu and his medieval friends' desire for vengeance can be clearly traced to the days when his party was persecuted by Mapai, when government did everything they could to prevent non-socialists like him from studying in university or getting a job, confiscated their property thus allowed them to starve. This is where this hatred originated.
Posted by Yuyutsu, Thursday, 27 July 2023 3:18:08 PM
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There is meant to be a separation between the judiciary and the parliament. The elected parliament makes the laws and the court applies them. In most democratic countries the judges are appointed by the government on the advice of the Chief Justice. The only time that judges can strike down legislation is when it conflicts with other legislation/treaties or the Constitution.

In Israel, there is no written constitution and new judges are appointed by the old judges with no influence from the elected parliament. Recently, the supreme court has taken it upon itself to strike down or modify legislation based on its own interpretation of what is "reasonable". The separation of powers has been breached.

While I don't necessarily agree with all parts of the legislation, I do see the need for Judicial reform.
Posted by shadowminister, Monday, 31 July 2023 3:16:15 AM
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Dear ShadowMinister,

The Israeli opposition agrees that a judicial reform is needed, the question being just what kind of a reform. The opposition prefers a constitution, but is also open to other options.

As has always been established in Israel, the high court sits either as the highest court of appeal or as "Bagatz" = "The High Court of Justice". In the absence of a constitution; an upper house; a governor-general; a president with executive powers; or separate elections for the legislative and the executive, the only possible breaks on government absolute power and the only resort to common-sense and delivery of justice, is in the hands of Bagatz.

Without being able to declare a law "unreasonable", government could enshrine in basic law that elections be held only every 50 years, that a convicted Prime-Minister can continue to rule from prison, that virgins must grant the First-Night-Right to the Prime-Minister or whoever he appoints, that everyone must tattoo the Prime-Minister's name on their forehead, and prostrate whenever a Minister or their relative passes by, that men must grow a beard and women cover themselves from head to toe, etc.

The Israeli judiciary is presently elected by a committee that includes high-court judges, but also government ministers, parliament members (from both coalition and opposition), and the elected representatives of the lawyers' association. This is why the government currently plans to legislate to disband the lawyer's association. Ideally, this committee should also include members that are directly elected by the public.
Posted by Yuyutsu, Monday, 31 July 2023 9:23:27 AM
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