search
David Page
US Lawyer and Israel Attorney

Those Shrill Tantrums About the “End of Democracy”

(Image commercially licensed by author)
(image commercially licensed by author)

As I write this article, the streets of Jerusalem are filled with demonstrators — and hysteria — lamenting the destruction of Israeli democracy.  This sounds more dramatic than it is:  What the demonstrators are mainly lamenting is that the preserve of their political views, the Israeli Supreme Court, is about to have its rules changed.  The main rules to be changed?  First, judges won’t get to appoint their successors (which isn’t allowed in any major democratic country) and the Court won’t get to claim a “reasonableness” standard to overturn anything the judges don’t like for any reason.

The latter “reasonableness” standard has only existed since 1995 and was based on Judge Aharon Barak’s arbitrary and unprecedented creation of a non-existent constitution known as Israeli “basic laws” that were never intended to be basic laws.  So no, democracy is not going to be destroyed by the judicial reform.  There is a reasonable argument on the other side that there should still be a strong Supreme Court check on the legislative and executive branches of government (think The Federalist Papers and the US Constitution’s enshrining of an independent judiciary).  But the current status quo isn’t that at all.  Instead, the current status quo is a total lack of checks and balances —  on the judicial branch of government itself here in Israel. It would be tempting to write on these issues again, but they have been addressed ad nauseum elsewhere, including in my previous blog posts.

Rather, there is something of even greater concern in watching the current set of demonstrations. It is this “other something” that represents a real threat to the democratic process and democratic institutions of government. These extremely high-decibel “happenings” go beyond the judicial reform issue here in Israel. There has been a dangerous tendency, both on the left and right in the US and Israel (anyone who witnessed January 6th realizes that these kinds of demonstrations are not only the province only of the left, as today’s demonstrations are), to equate loss of elections as the loss of freedom. The two are certainly not the same.  In fact, the very opposite is true:  Losing an election, and dealing with the policy positions of the winning side, are the very essence of democracy. Demonstrations complaining of “the end of democracy” because your side loses the election is nothing more than a temper tantrum. A shrill, narcissistic expression that claims essentially anything that you disagree with is antidemocratic.  That is itself undemocratic, self-centered, and deeply disturbingly wrong.  And it could spell the destruction of democracy, as the Communist Chinese ideologue Wang Huning (author of America Against America) predicts.

Why?  Because respecting the democratic process, institutions, and differences of opinion is essential to preserving the integrity of a democratic system. Despite the disappointment and frustration that often accompany losing an election, it is important to acknowledge and accept the outcome, even when the result is not what we desired. Here are nine reasons why respecting the democratic process is so important:

  1. Maintaining the integrity of the democratic system: A democratic system is built on the principle of free and fair elections, in which citizens have the right to vote and have their votes counted. Respecting the outcome of an election is crucial to maintaining the credibility and integrity of the democratic system.
  2. Protecting the rule of law: Democracy requires the rule of law, meaning that everyone, including elected officials, must abide by the law. Respecting the outcome of an election, even when we disagree with it, is a way of demonstrating our commitment to the rule of law.
  3. Promoting stability and continuity: Democracy is characterized by peaceful transitions of power. When we respect the outcome of an election, we help to ensure stability and continuity, even during periods of change.
  4. Encouraging dialogue and cooperation: Democracy depends on the ability of citizens and elected officials to engage in constructive dialogue and cooperation. Respecting the democratic process, even when we disagree with the outcome, helps to create an environment in which dialogue and cooperation are possible.
  5. Protecting minority rights: Democracy is built on the principle of equal protection under the law. Respecting the outcome of an election, even when it does not result in the election of our preferred candidate, helps to protect the rights of minority groups and ensures that all voices are heard.
  6. Demonstrating respect for diversity of opinion: Democracy is characterized by a diversity of opinions, beliefs, and values. Respecting the outcome of an election, even when we disagree with it, is a way of demonstrating respect for diversity of opinion and for the right of others to hold different beliefs and values.
  7. Encouraging active participation: Democracy depends on active participation by citizens. When we respect the outcome of an election, even when we disagree with it, we encourage others to participate in the democratic process and to take an active role in shaping the future of our communities and our nation.
  8. Promoting accountability: Democracy is built on the principle of accountability. Respecting the outcome of an election, even when we disagree with it, helps to ensure that elected officials are held accountable for their actions and that the democratic process remains transparent and open.
  9. Encouraging responsible leadership: Democracy requires responsible leadership. Respecting the outcome of an election, even when we disagree with it, helps to encourage elected officials to act in the best interests of their constituents and to exercise their leadership in a responsible and ethical manner.

In conclusion, respecting the democratic process, institutions, and differences of opinion is essential to preserving the integrity of a democratic system. When we respect the outcome of an election, even when we disagree with it, we demonstrate our commitment to the rule of law, promote stability and continuity, encourage dialogue and cooperation, protect minority rights, demonstrate respect for diversity of opinion, encourage active participation, promote accountability, and encourage responsible leadership. These are the qualities that make democracy strong and resilient, and they are what allow us to build a better future for ourselves and for future generations.  Jews were always fond of vibrant, vigorous, substantive, and fundamentally peaceful debate. Let’s not change now that in the State of Israel by giving in to shrill temper tantrums.

About the Author
David Page is a US and Israeli attorney practicing law in Jerusalem as the principal of David Page Law. David is a graduate of Harvard University and the University of Chicago Law School, after which he went to study European law at the University of Paris and to clerk on the US Court of Appeals. David also has learned at the Mir Yeshiva, and has taught at the Faculty of Law of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and published in the field. He served as regulatory counsel in an American Israeli high-tech company for more than half a decade and heads his own law firm in the real estate law, litigation, business and corporate law, wills, trusts, and estates and probate, tax, and trademarks fields, and is the founder and CEO of the innovative business legal-tech platform NoGranite ("some prefer their lawyering straight up, not on the rocks") www.nogranite.com. You can write David at david@davidpagelaw.com, david@nogranite.com or visit him at www.davidpagelaw.com or www.nogranite.com
Related Topics
Related Posts