The turnout in Israel’s latest elections, last November 2022, was 70.63%, one of the highest in the Western World democracies, a sign of the strength of Israel’s democracy.
4,794,593 citizens cast their ballots in the last elections. It is estimated that around 200,000 protesters are today in the streets in Jerusalem, Tel-Aviv and other cities of Israel, venting their frustration for the policies that the present government is trying to implement. They represent only 4% of the voters in the last election.
Israel is a parliamentary representative democracy: policies are decided in the Parliament, not in the streets. Only the Parliament, the Knesset, represents the overall will of the 4,794,593 voters of the last election.
Some of these protesters encourage foreign investors to withdraw funds needed for the development of the State of Israel. Others encourage foreign governments to intervene on their behalf and criticize the Israeli government. Still others proclaim the end of Israel’s democracy. This is wrong, foolish and childish, to say the least. It is harming the future of the State of Israel for all, both for those who voted for and those who voted against the present government. It is also harming the Jewish people in the Diaspora and de-legitimizes the State of Israel as a whole: What is the distinction between the “good BDS” of those Israelis who encourage foreign investors to withdraw funds from Israel, and the “bad BDS” of all the anti-Zionist groups working hard in Europe and the US to achieve the same results?
These protesters should direct their frustration towards the heads of the parties that are today in the opposition. The heads of these parties led them to a defeat in the last elections and, after the results were known, they were unwilling to do away with their egos, reach the appropriate conclusions, change course, and try to influence the formation of a government that could had better represented the basic values and vital interests of their voters.
Such a government could had been formed: the National Unity party (12 seats) could had been part of the new government coalition. Even the Ra’am party (5 seats) or the Labor party (4 seats) could had been part of the new coalition: it is not a shame for small parties to be part of a government if some of the basic interests of their constituencies can be protected and even expanded. A participation today in a coalition led by the Likud party, would not have precluded them to appear again as successful independent parties in future elections, if they could show the skills to deliver the essential needs their constituencies voted them for, working inside the government. These parties – partly or together – could had driven the Religious Zionist party (14 seats), and the policies this party represents, to remain outside the government.
And the Israelis could still have a healthy opposition led by the Yesh Atid party (24 seats). Yesh Atid is today the only party that can claim to be a real distinctive alternative to a coalition led by the Likud party. A healthy opposition is needed in a parliamentary democracy to keep the government in check and the public aware of any bad policy decisions the government intends to implement. This is how modern parliamentary democracies work.
Hence, to the protesters in the streets today: Talk to the legislators of the parties that represented you in the last elections. Request they should listen to you and make changes in their leadership, if they are unwilling to recognize the mistakes that led to their defeat in the last elections and to the formation of the present government. Or, shut up, stay in the opposition, and work hard to convince the people in Israel to vote for you in the next elections. Street demonstrations with empty slogans about saving the democracy in Israel will not help to sway voters to your side in the next elections. On the contrary.