DEMOCRACY IN ISRAEL

The Balfour Declaration of 1917, the first event in a political process ultimately leading to the creation of modern day Israel, proclaimed “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people…..it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities….”  Zionist leaders of the time hailed this proclamation in unanimity.

Now civil rights do not imply political rights and the reference to non-Jewish communities obviously concerns itself primarily with the Arabs.  For years, whereas the Israeli Declaration did, in fact, bestow political rights on the Arab citizens, no government, left, right or unity would entertain the idea of using the Arab vote to decide security issues pertaining to the Jewish people.  This, of course, changed when the Rabin-Peres elite came to power.

The refusal of reliance on Arabs to determine the fate of Jews on life and death matters was always considered an “unwritten rule”.  This attitude undoubtedly was not a function of racism, but rather a recognition of a conflict of conscience.  For this reason, Arabs are not required to serve in the Israeli army.  Recent events suggest that little has changed in that Israeli Arabs continue to identify themselves as Palestinians rather than Israelis.

In 1995, Nativ published an article on contemporary Arab attitudes by Professor Raphael Israeli entitled “Israeli Arabs: Are They a Fifth Column?”  The account confirmed that indeed little had changed.

At a soccer game in Taibe towards the end of February of this year angry Arabs were screaming “Death to the Jews” and “Long live Yihye Ayyash”.  Dr. Yosi Olmert, Middle East analyst and sports commentator’s response was one of “What happened Saturday should be a green light to us all.”  A new political movement of Israeli Arabs designated as the National Democratic Union is now demanding  a “measure of autonomy” for Israeli Arabs according to an Israeli-Arab newspaper.

While aspersions are cast on the suggested non-democratic positions of right wing Jews, interestingly enough, it was the Revisionist leader Zev Jabotinsky who in 1934 entertained the idea of far reaching liberties to Palestinian Arabs including the extraordinary idea whereby, “In every Cabinet where the Prime Minister is a Jew , the vice-premiership shall be offered to an Arab, and vice-versa.” 

In 1976, former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, has this to say;  “The minority is entitled to equal rights as individuals with respect to their distinct religion and culture, but not more than that.”  Should this have been considered a racial slur?

By 1992, for the first time in Israel’s history, a government totally dependent on the support of Arab Knesset members was empowered through PLO surrogates.  Also, for the first time in Israel’s history, those who would point to this questionable majority, where the Arab parties won only 5 seats and the Arab vote accounted for 9 or 10 other Knesset mandates, would be accused of racism.

More recently, on October 6, 1995, the Knesset approved the OsloII agreement on the basis of a 61 to 59 vote.  This was achieved via a Jewish minority and once again 5 anti-Zionist Arab party members.  It is not simply a matter of these Arabs being understandably sympathizers with the Arab world at large, but they are openly aligned with the PLO.

The Oslo II vote concerned giving up all legal claims to Judea, Samaria, the Gaza District and in all probability part of Jerusalem.  Clearly, no other state which in any way resembled a democracy would entertain such an act without an overwhelming support for risk taking of this order.  In the US, a special majority of two-thirds of each house of Congress, in addition to ratification by three-fourths of the States would be required to obtain a constitutional amendment prior to the ceding of land.

Given the facts, beneath the demagogic cloak of tolerance, liberalism and democracy lies the reality of sheer vindictiveness and hate.  The deliberate, deceitful twisting and misuse of the term “racism” is nothing short of an outrage.

Professor Paul Eidelberg, an expert in the field of constitutional democracy, has written extensively on the subject of Classical verses Contemporary Democracy.  He explains how Contemporary Democracy is little more than a random aggregation of individuals and groups pursuing their own aims and interests.  This must be contrasted with Classical Democracy exemplified in the founding of the American Republic which is based on the Seven Noahide Laws of Universal Morality.  “Stated more simply, Classical Democracy is based on the idea of a Higher Law – as the American Declaration of Independence puts it, the ‘Laws of Nature and of Nature’s G-d’.”

In the Israel of the previous regime, those empowered refused to adhere to Classical Democracy preferring instead Contemporary Democratic thought, which borders on intellectual and moral anarchy.  In its universal-ism and rejection of substantive norms of human conduct and a rational basis for national loyalty, the concept of peace is expected to manifest itself.  As if nihilism and multiculturalism can  surpass a system based on national loyalty.  It is to be hoped that, with the passage of time, Israeli leaders will face up to the issue and effect an appropriate revision.  An accounting of the Arab population under the age of 18, dramatically emphasizes the urgency of the problem.

Shmuel Katz, a member of the Irgun and the 1st Knesset, and author of the most complete biography on Jabotinsky, has fully addressed the subject of minorities.  Noting that 10% of the world’s people live as minorities, he states that this need not be a hardship providing measures are in place to protect their, yes, “civil and religious rights”.

Jabotinsky himself commenting on majority rule in general, stated that, “The value of democracy does not depend on the feeling of subordination by forty-nine kings with equal rights to one hundred, or even of 10 kings or one to one hundred.  The sense of democracy must rather be sought in the theory of consent and compromise.”

That the Arabs of Israel should be denied the opportunity of shaping the destiny of the Jewish people while enjoying all other benefits cannot in any way be construed as racist.  On the other hand, using their votes for political purposes, far from being democratic, is disingenuous, immoral and simply dishonest.  Opposition to the concept of 500, 000 Arabs determining who will be the next Prime Minister of a Jewish state, far from being racist, represents a rather normal response to a ludicrous idea!

Without the Israeli Arab vote, Shimon Peres lost the recent election by 330,000 votes, or a 57%-43% margin.  This is the number that really matters, because it is this margin which can be the determining factor, according to the ratio of Arabs to Jews.