The Foundation for Constitutional Democracy


Two Delusions

Filed under: Democratic MethodsOslo/Peace ProcessRepresentation — eidelberg @ 6:11 am Edit This

Delusion: “A persistent false belief held in the face of strong contradictory evidence, especially as a symptom of psychiatric disorder.”

Israel’s government, as well as its rightwing critics, suffers from a delusion. During the past three decades, regardless of which party or party coalition has controlled the government, its ruling elites persist in the futile and fatal policy of “land for peace.”

Rightwing critics of this policy also suffer from a delusion. For more than thirty years they have been playing on the turf of the enemy—on the territorial issue. Despite all their fine essays, their petitions, their newspaper ads—yes, despite all their patriotic protest demonstrations—Israel’s government has never deviated from its suicidal policy of territorial retreat. The critics know this, but they remain fixed on the playing ground of this government.

As I have written on several occasions, the critics—the groups composing the so-called nationalist camp—fixate on “policy” issues, not on “regime” issues. They fail to see that the policy of “land for peace” has been institutionalized, and that the only way to get this self-destructive policy de-institutionalized is to radically change Israel’s political and judicial institutions. Instead of forming a united front whose explicit public goal is to change the regime, the non-parliamentary groups that compose the fictitious nationalist camp devote an enormous amount of time and energy, talent and money—a lot of money—persisting in their delusion.

They do not see or want to see that virtually every member of the Knesset—the best and the brightest—has a vested interest in preserving Israel’s present system of government. Even if one or another MK now supports a proposal to make members of the Knesset individually accountable to the voters in constituency elections, they continue to support multi-party cabinet government because that is an MK’s ticket to power and political longevity. Just ponder the tragicomedy of Israel’s present coalition cabinet government and the fools who may replace Israel’s most inept prime minister.

I know very well there are no institutional substitutes for wisdom and virtue. But wisdom and virtue will accomplish little if anything without proper institutional supports—institutions conducive to unity in the Executive, political stability, programmatic consistency, personal accountability.

Ever since 1953, when the Beth Hillel Society for Social Research in Israel published its report “Electoral Reform,” it has been known to anyone with eyes to see that Israel has a dysfunctional as well as non-representative system of government. I am not speaking of an “imperfect democracy”; I am calling a spade a spade: structurally speaking, Israel is not a democracy. It is a regime that has virtually disenfranchised the people of Israel. This started sixty years ago.

Israel’s Declaration of Independence of 1948 prescribes a “constitution.” Israel has no constitution. Today it has a leftwing Supreme Court, a self-perpetuating oligarchy for which “everything is justiciable,” including the abiding beliefs and values of the Jewish people. The personal predilections of the Supreme Court—that is Israel’s “constitution.”

Israel’s existing system of government has never been ratified by the people; it has been imposed on them. This government is illegitimate, and its illegitimacy is not negated by the notion of the people’s tacit consent.

Here is an example of “tacit consent.” In December 2003, Likud Prime Minister Ariel Sharon adopted Labor’s policy of “unilateral disengagement,” a policy overwhelmingly rejected by the public in the January 2003 election. He thereby nullified that election—can we say with the people’s “tacit consent”?

Moreover, Sharon imposed said policy on his cabinet, whose ministers understood that if they voted against unilateral disengagement, the government would fall and they would lose their cabinet posts and power.

No public figure dares tell the truth: democracy in Israel is a subterfuge to mask an illegitimate government and prime ministerial dictatorship.

Hence, all rightwing criticism focused merely on the government’s treacherous policy of “land for peace” is counterproductive insofar as it diverts attention, energy, talent, and money from that which perpetuates this policy—Israel’s undemocratic, illegitimate, and corrupt system of government.

Enough of two delusions!