Boaz Dreyer
Farmer and Educator

Israel a democracy? – part 2

As mentioned in the previous post, Israel is not a classic democracy. We do vote for party leaders by voting for their parties but why not vote for the individual? Not as in the failed past attempt at voting for a prime minister and on a separate ballot a party but rather to vote for an individual that represents your immediate area.

The new incoming government appears to be garnering a lot of opposition from around the world. In my humble opinion, I do not see this government lasting out the year. Not that I doubt the ability of the incoming ministers, but the appointments are based on support for Netanyahu and not for their ability to work in an area in which they are sufficiently qualified.

Let’s not forget the reason for Netanyahu’s previous attempts to form a government failing, he was unable to get a budget passed. I fear this may be the downfall of the incoming government.

The concept of a good leader is that he should serve his electorate, be of strong and reliable character so that he may command the respect of his constituents. Of course, he should be seen pursuing the needs of his electoral area and not his own personal agenda. The power that a politician has is given to him by his voters and therefore a reciprocal amount of work in the form of expressing opinion in favor of his electorate should be his primary concern. Should he fail in his mandate, the same electorate that put him in power would reserve the right to replace him via a system of byelections.  Sadly, the pressing interests of the Israeli people – rising inflation, exorbitant housing prices, and the unreal domination of the Israel Lands Authority have not been mentioned.

The driving issue behind out-of-control housing prices comes from the absolute control that the Land Authority holds over us. We will look a this in the next post

Back to the matter at hand, I am suggesting that we change our electoral system to a constituent system where Israel would be divided into 120 constituencies that would have a representative for each area. I plan to suggest an electoral map in a future post as this requires a lot of homework! This new to Israel idea would ensure that two issues are covered. Firstly, the nominee would campaign in his own area and address issues that are pressing to the area and secondly, he is not only known to his constituents but would also be accountable to them.

The constituents – voters – would have the right to call a special by–election and replace the candidate should he not fulfill the mandate promised to his voters. A useless candidate could be replaced without collapsing a sitting government and therefore provides a platform for a four-year period that a government could get some work done. I see the prime minister being the leader of the largest party in the coalition if there is not a single party majority.

In support of the outgoing government, I believe it was a government that really worked for the good of the country and had not the system allowed for fence jumpers to bring about the collapse of the government, they could have served the interests of the country very well.

When voting for a local representative for Tel Aviv, a large population area, you would have a few members of Knesset working for the interests of the people that put them in power. Likewise, the representative of an agricultural area would serve the interests of farmers. Our government has a habit of filling portfolios with people not qualified for the job, perhaps except for the minister of defense. Our Knesset has a lot of old generals in politics, which seems a logical step for a leader of people to take after holding high office within the military establishment. It does, however, pose a potential problem that we are short of qualified people in the areas of economics, medical and social issues to name but a few. Our portfolio holders need to meet the requirement of previous experience in the field. Being zealous does not replace the need for previous experience. Looking back at the dismal performances of certain office bearers – particularly during the corona period – proves my statement.

Being such a cumbersome top-heavy system, the only way that the system could be altered is from the inside. This will require the formation of a party committed to changing the existing system that will be prepared to educate the Israeli public to that fact that we do not have a democratic government. I cringe when I hear our politicians saying that ‘we are being anti-democratic’ or similar expressions as they either do not know what a democracy is or maybe, just maybe, they are aware that the title of democracy suits that horse that they are riding. Israel has never known a true democracy, the time a fast approaching that if we want to continue to call ourselves the only democracy in the Middle East, that we take steps toward being one.

About the Author
Boaz Dreyer was born in South Africa, made aliyah in 1996 and lived on Kibbutz Kerem Shalom for many years. He currently is a member of Moshav Beer Milka. At Kerem Shalom he served for many years as the military coordinator and personally experienced many political / security incidents including the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit and the disengagement from Gaza. For the last 10 years he has been growing wine vines in the sands of the Negev desert as well as teaching foreign agricultural students Israeli civics and agricultural entrepreneurship.
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