Sunday, February 05, 2023

From Time, in a two page print story:
Israel is no longer a liberal democracy. As Benjamin Netanyahu’s new government took office on 29 December, its illiberalism was evident. No longer a matter for debate or polite embarrassment, the contempt for liberal ideas brings all the disparate factions together: against the media and intellectuals and increasingly against the old Western-inspired Israeli political system and the existing Israeli constitution, including its Basic Laws.
This is really getting crazy. 

Nothing has happened.

The government is not going to reduce the rights of gay people. It is not going to impose a theocracy on Israel. It is not becoming a dictatorship. 

Wikipedia defines a liberal democracy as:
Liberal democracy is the combination of a liberal political ideology that operates under a representative democratic form of government. It is characterized by elections between multiple distinct political parties, a separation of powers into different branches of government, the rule of law in everyday life as part of an open society, a market economy with private property, and the equal protection of human rights, civil rights, civil liberties and political freedoms for all people. To define the system in practice, liberal democracies often draw upon a constitution, either codified (such as in the United States) or uncodified (such as in the United Kingdom), to delineate the powers of government and enshrine the social contract. 

Nothing is happening to remotely change Israel's status to anything other than a liberal democracy. 

The only argument that critics can make is that the proposed judicial reforms give too much power to the legislative branch, but now most people recognize that the judicial branch - which can dismiss government officials for literally no reason except what it considers  "reasonable" -  has far too much power as an unelected branch of government. Perhaps the proposed reforms go too far in some specific ways, but the general idea of reforms is quite reasonable and hardly the earth shattering change that they are being portrayed as. 

Everyone agrees there should be a balance of power. The only disagreement is where to draw the line. It is an important debate, but it is hardly a real crisis that threatens Israel's democratic character. 

(In fact, one can argue that Israel is more of a liberal democracy than either the US or UK. Universal suffrage for citizens is a key component of any liberal democracy, but unlike Israel, the US and UK do not allow many or most citizens who are prisoners to vote. Is that a crisis? Where are the front page articles about this?)

It seems to me that the over the top reaction to the Israeli elections are more dangerous than anything the government itself is likely to do. Over the weekend, we saw direct, public incitement to violence from Israeli liberals.

Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai spoke at a demonstration against the government and said: "This is the opportunity to reach broad agreements, and if the words end, the actions will begin. We will not stop at protests, we will not be indifferent, we will not react with resignation."

David Hodek, a commercial lawyer who won a Medal of Courage, one of the Israeli military’s highest awards, for his conduct as a tank officer in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, told the Israel Bar Association’s annual conference in Eilat that “if someone forces me to live in a dictatorship and I have no choice, I won’t hesitate to use live fire.

Hodek, who was speaking on a panel, appeared to make clear he was not talking metaphorically, saying: “People are willing to fight with weapons. Everyone is aghast [at such statements]. They say ‘How can you say such a thing?’ I’m saying it. If I’m forced to go there and they drag me there, that’s what I’ll do.”
Ze'ev Raz, one of the leaders of the Balfour protest and a former fighter pilot, backtracked on what appeared to be a call to assassinate Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday. Raz was a pilot who participated in a reactor bombing operation in Iraq in 1981, which is known as Operation Opera.

"If a sitting prime minister assumes dictatorial powers, this prime minister is bound to die, simply like that, along with his ministers and his followers.

He continued by arguing that Israel should integrate 'din rodef' (a concept in Jewish law that allows for the killing of an individual who intends to kill or harm others).

"My din rodef rules that if my country is taken over by a person, foreigner or Israeli, who leads it in an undemocratic manner, it is obligatory to kill is better to kill the criminals first."
These threats and incitement are a far bigger danger to Israel's democracy than the most extreme things the government is proposing. They are normalizing violence as a means to change government policy. That is the definition of terrorism.

And they come from the constant incitement in world media. 

Losers of elections should spend their time convincing voters to support them next time, not threatening to assassinate the elected leaders. 

I have plenty of problems with Netanyahu, and some of the optics of judicial reform are less than ideal, but he is not a dictator. He is not a racist. He has (with next to no publicity) done more for Arabs in Israel than any previous prime minister, bar none. 

Step back. Take a a breath. And if you care about Israel's future, fight for it using all legal means. Debate it using facts, not hyperbole. 

When people demonize political opponents, to the point that prominent people literally threaten violence to get their way, everyone loses. 

(h/t Yoel)

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 19 years and 40,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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