Israel, the Shield of Democracy and the Sword of Freedom

In general I tend to stay away from predictions. My friends know that I am a terrible fantasy sports player, and an even worse gambler. Luckily for my bank account, I am not in denial, and try my hand at none of these. As I began to write a piece on the upcoming Israel election this weekend, trying to make predictions on potential coalition configurations, I knew that in one of the closest elections in Israeli history, my predictions would most likely end in disappointment. However, while I may not have been able to predict the outcomes of this election, I do know the one number that truly matters. Israel’s voter turn out.

Orthodox Jews cast ballots in the 2015 Israeli Elections.

In its history, the State of Israel has enjoyed one of the highest voter turnouts in the democratic world. According to most figures published, in 2015 more than 70% of Israelis cast ballots to determine their leadership. This figure serves to demonstrate, Israel’s most remarkable feature as the only democracy in the Middle East, and one of
the healthiest in the Western world.

This figure is not only high in comparison to Western countries, it is infinitely higher than any other country in the Middle East. That is because in Israel your vote is meaningful. In contrast, any other vote in a so called democracy in the Middle East is for all intents and purposes wasted. While Saddam Hussein may have said that his 2002 Referendum was attended by 100% of his constituents, the world knows better. Even had 100% of Iraqis voted in the referendum, I doubt they could have overturned an already decided outcome. The same can be said about recent fraudulent elections in Iran and Syria. Both of which were no doubly manipulated by ruling tyrants. 

Let us observe the Global Democracy Index, compiled at the Alpen-Adria-Universität in Austria. According to the findings of Dr. Christa Pölzlbauer and Dr. David F. J. Campbell, there is no other Middle Eastern country, that figures in the top 50 of the Democracy Ranking of 2014. There is but one country from the Middle East, the Jewish one, that does feature on the ranking, and at number 24. Of course, this country is the State of Israel. Remarkably, Israel, a young country of less than 67 years, has already placed itself on to this list and firmly into the 70-79 bracket. Israel shares this bracket with the democratic leaders of our world; the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. For those who are curious, Canada ranks at 78.2, two percent better than the USA and only 7% better than Israel’s democracy.

While Israel will continue to come under fire from the international community because of the “Jewishness” of its State, I call their attention to the Democracy Ranking. This list demonstrates Israel’s and the Jewish faith’s value for democracy, and that Israel’s commitment to remaining Jewish will not comprise its democratic nature. In the same way that democracy is synonymous with Judaism, Judaism is synonymous with Israel. And I know that neither of the two will be compromised in Israel. 

The Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu declares victory following an eventful day at Israeli voting stations.

The results of the 2015 elections have indeed been problematic for Israeli politicians. One of the closest races in Israeli history, the final tally suggests the two largest parties, the Likud and the Zionist Union, hold a similar number of mandates in Israeli Parliament. And while this may be problematic for political scientists and Israeli politicians who hope to figure prominently in the coalitions, it is indeed, like any, a good result for Israel. For every citizen who has voted has aided in the victory that is the State of Israel and the democracy that is the Jewish State. And while seats in the Knesset may change and coalitions become more complicated, Israel has demonstrated to the world yet again that it will always hold the shield of democracy and the sword of freedom.

Dan Poliwoda

About the Author
Dan Poliwoda is an Honours History student at the University of Western Ontario. On campus he is VP Programming for Israel on Campus at UWO, where programming includes tabling, keynote speakers and discussions.
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