Israel a Democracy? – Part 3
The last few months has seen Israel change from a patch work coalition, that really seemed to get the job done, to the return to the old guard led by Bibi Netanyahu. There are a few interesting points to remember when looking at our seasoned leader.
- Bibi is 73 and although he looks good for his age, there are many in the Likud that see themselves as viable replacements to the aging leader.
- Bibi has had to resort to the extreme right wing to patch together his coalition. These partners do not come cheap, and the burden of these expensive partners will be born by the Israeli taxpayers.
- Not forgetting that Bibi failed to get a budget passed in his last attempts to form a government, I anticipate that he may well face the same hurdle again.
Running the risk of beating the old drum yet again, I cannot stress enough that our political woes stem from the fact that our politicians are not responsible to the electorate which in my mind is a fundamental part of any democratic system.
Israel is run on what we call basic law, yet we have no constitution. With any constitutional protection, our politicians are free to attempt to make changes to any of the basic laws, as they see fit. If we had a constitution, and I believe that this is something that our politicians need to address urgently, every citizen would then be protected against the whims of any firebrand politician who needs to change a law to further his personal agenda or to protect his seat in the Knesset.
Another embarrassment that our incumbent government causes me is their incessant attack on the judicial system. If our politicians have no respect for the judicial system, how can we expect the common citizen to respect it? Our Supreme Court should be the final word in our judicial system but when we have no constitution to give the Supreme Court the protection it needs, it is left open to be challenged by anyone that has the audacity or the money to do so. Like it or not, the Supreme Court must live up to its name so that any court decision is upheld.
While on the issue of the judiciary I would like to briefly mention our incarceration system. Unlike the United States which has two distinct prison systems – federal and private[i] – Israel is limited to the Israel Prison Services. In the USA penal incarceration is BIG business, unlike our penal system which suffers from being the ‘poor brother’ in the defense budget and therefore fails to deliver in many aspects expected of a ‘good’ penal system, if there is such a thing!
Law abiding citizens deserve to have criminals removed from their society and therefore laws and a court system are in place that can hand down punishment in the measure that the offender would think twice before doing the same thing again. With offences like theft that can carry a jail sentence, it may be better to enforce the biblical law to pay back twice what was stolen. When large sums of money are involved, Israel’s system has a habit of giving large offenders like Nochi Dankner[ii] a ‘hair cut’ reducing both the amount owed and a shortened jail term. All the while, I am sure that the money is stashed away in some well-hidden and undisclosed place.
Our unique problem, well maybe not so anymore, with terrorism also has problems when it comes to incarceration. We certainly do not want dedicated killers running free on our streets. History has shown that even lengthy periods of incarceration do not lead to any form of remorse or rehabilitation. I stand corrected should there be a terrorist in Israel that was truly sorry for what we had done murdering innocent civilians. Terrorists are allowed conjugal visits, study opportunities and many other privileges that make their time inside a picnic.
Israeli prisons need to change. They should be places where any privilege is earned. For example, prisoners should be denied anything other than the necessities for life until they prove their willingness to be rehabilitated. I would be happy for this principle to be applied to all types of criminals. Ask Ze’ev Rosenstein[iii] what he thinks of American prisons!
There exist sections of the Israeli population, that for not wanting to be labeled racist, will remain unnamed, that manage to avoid the consequences of breaking the law on an almost ongoing basis.
In conclusion, as our politicians are not accountable to anybody, so to, the man on the street assumes or claims the same level of immunity as do our politicians. In a democracy nobody should be above the law. Not Bibi Netanyahu, Ariyeh Deri, David Bitan or any other politician that has in the past been indicted. Last word, the Norwegian Law, allowing for the addition of more members to the Knesset in an already overburdened system MUST GO!
Next post, what steps can we take to try and fix our political nightmare.
[i] History of United States prison systems – Wikipedia
[ii] Nochi Dankner – Wikipedia