The Foundation for Constitutional Democracy

08-Apr-2008

Beneath the Fear of Democracy

Filed under: Democratic MethodsIslam & ArabParty Structures — eidelberg @ 5:44 am

Eidelberg Report, Israel National Radio, April 7, 2008.

Part I

In Caroline Glick’s article “Fear of Democracy” (The Jerusalem Post, April 4), we learn that the UN’s Human Rights Counsel instructed its expert on freedom of expression to report to the Council on all instances in which individuals “abuse” their freedom of speech by giving expression to racial or religious bias. Since Egypt and Pakistan proposed this resolution, it was surely intended to stifle criticism of Islam.

This attempt to stifle freedom of expression, as Glick observes, violates Article 19 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, which states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

The European members of the Council failed to oppose an Islamic inspired resolution that violates, as Glick says, “one of the most basic tenets of Western civilization.”

Democratic Europe increasingly succumbs to Islamic totalitarianism. Europeans have attacked the Internet release of Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilder’s film Fitna, which cites verses of the Quran calling for the murder of non-Muslims, verses superimposed with actual scenes of carnage perpetrated by Muslims.

The Left in Europe has attacked Wilder as a “rightwing populist.” Glick writes: “Like all anti-democratic movements, today’s political Left seeks to silence debate and so undermine democracy, first by demonizing anyone who does not agree with it and then by passing laws that criminalize speech or override the people’s right to decide how they wish to live.”

We have this sort of thing in Israel. Glick recalls how the government, in the name of democracy, deployed tens of thousands of police to break up protests against the expulsion of 8,000 Jews from their homes in Gaza in August 2005. What this outstanding political analyst fails to see or mention, however, is that Israel is a democracy in name only.

The criminal expulsion of Jews was “legalized” by a law enacted by a Likud-led Knesset in October 2004. That law would not have passed if Israel were truly a democracy. No less than 84 members of that Knesset had campaigned in the January 2003 election against the Gaza expulsion—Labor’s cowardly policy of “unilateral disengagement.” That policy—the paramount issue of the 2003 election—was rejected by an overwhelming majority of the voters.

Nevertheless, the Likud-led Knesset voted for the expulsion law by a margin of 69 to 45! Twenty-three Likud MKs voted for that perfidious legislation. Surely, few if any would have done so had they been individually accountable to the voters in constituency elections, where a rival candidate would inform the public of the Likud’s betrayal. Democracy in Israel is a cruel myth.

Since Israelis are compelled to vote for closed party lists—contrary to the practice of almost every country classified as a democracy by Freedom House—the government can ignore public opinion with impunity. This is not all.

The Gaza expulsion law violated Basic Law: Freedom and Human Dignity. Yet Israel’s Supreme Court, dominated by the Left, ruled that Gaza is “belligerent occupied territory,” a ruling that sanctified the treachery of Israel’s government.

Ms. Glick knows that the Supreme Court is a self-perpetuating oligarchy that uses the mantra of democracy to lend color of legitimacy to what in truth are crimes against Jews and their heritage.

Now, thus far, I have mentioned two branches of Israeli government, the Legislature and the Judiciary, that are not at all democratic. As for the Executive branch, first note that Israel has only coalition governments. Whether formed by the Likud or Labor or now by Kadima, none has ever been toppled by a vote of no confidence. The reason is this. Since these governments consist of the leaders of five or six or more rival parties, they effectively control the Knesset.

Moreover, hardly anyone seems to realize that coalition cabinet government in Israel endows the prime minister with dictatorial power. He can pursue a policy contrary to a majority of his cabinet ministers because if they vote against his policy, the government will fall and they will lose their ministerial posts, power and perquisites. Politicians love their seats more than their country.

Therefore, it is not only the Left that fears or opposes democracy in Israel. For self-serving purposes, effectual opposition to democracy—to a genuine democratic system of government—will be found across Israel’s political spectrum.

Israel’s political parties have a self-serving interest in preserving Israel’s reputation as a democracy. It is precisely Israel’s reputation as “the only democracy in the Middle East” that endows the government with legitimacy and the nation’s other elites with respectability (so convenient when they visit America, where they are lauded and rewarded).

Part II

That the Left, typically atheistic, has formed an unholy alliance with Islam strikes pundits as paradoxical. But Islam and the Left actually have an intersection of interests. The Sunday target of Islam is Christian, capitalist America, the “Great Satan.” The Left abhors the same America. The Saturday target of Islam is Israel, the “Small Satan.” The Left abhors the same Israel.

The Left supports the Arab Palestinians. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Palestinians have replaced the proletarians as the vanguard of the Left. Also linking the Left and Islam is their opposition to the nation-state system that has governed the West for some 400 years.

Just as the Left in Europe appeases Islam and betrays freedom of expression by attacking Geerd Wilder’s Internet film Fitna, so the Left in the U.S. is seeking to destroy freedom of expression in America by attacking “Talk-Radio,” whose leading personalities—conservatives like Michael Savage and Rush Limbaugh—speak out against the threat of Islamic imperialism. The Democratic Party, once the champion of liberalism, has been invaded by the Left, endangering democracy’s cardinal principle “freedom of expression.”

Long ago, Nietzsche said that liberals become the greatest enemies of freedom once they get into power. The reason is this.

Since modern liberals are anti-traditional, what they seek is not freedom so much as power. To attain power, liberals as opposed to conservatives, attack their greatest competitor for the minds of men, the Bible. Given its concept of man’s creation in the image of God, the Bible provides moral and rational constraints on freedom and power. We see these constraints in the institutional checks and balances of constitutional democracies like the United States.

Today, however, liberals are steeped in moral relativism-cum-atheism; and given their socialist tendency, the typical liberal may be included in the camp of the Left.

The Left’s attack on freedom of expression is therefore more profound than Ms. Glick seems to realize. The attack is rooted in a rejection of ethical monotheism, the source of Western civilization. While leftwing-dominated Europe has become post-Christian, leftwing-dominated Israel has become post-Zionist.

Meanwhile, in America, not only has the religious freedom clause of the First Amendment become an instrument of atheism—as witness the removal of the Ten Commandments from the public sphere—but its clause concerning freedom of expression now excludes speech that may hurt people’s feelings.

Returning to Israel, the biblical tradition is being obviously undermined by eliminating Jewish beliefs and values from Israel’s public school curriculum. Less obvious is the emasculation of Judaism by the government’s withdrawing from Jewish land, on which the nation’s collective memory is based. All this is being done in the name of democracy.

Glick’s article, “Fear of Democracy,” only touches the surface of the malaise. Beneath the surface is the rejection of ethical monotheism.

In the secular world of moral relativism, people do not associate ethical monotheism with democracy. This prompted me to articulate a Jewish form of democracy appropriate for Israel, a form that eliminates the present myth of Israeli democracy on the one hand, while avoiding the bête noire of theocracy on the other.