The Foundation for Constitutional Democracy

23-Aug-2009

A Message of Public Interest

Filed under: Democratic MethodsLetters — eidelberg @ 11:13 pm Edit This

To all the academics, journalists, and other opinion-makers in Israel who say that Israel is a democracy, please enlighten the undersigned by identifying the source from which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu derived the authority to endorse the establishment of any Arab-Islamic state in Judea and Samaria, hence the right to expel, by logical and political necessity, hundreds of thousands of Jews from their homes in this heartland of the Jewish people.

On the other hand, if it be said that Israel’s parliament has the authority to enact laws resulting in the expulsion of those Jews, please explain to the undersigned how such laws would not be manifestations of majority tyranny.

Finally, if the Knesset may enact such laws, please explain to the undersigned why academics, journalists, and other opinion-makers boast of Israeli democracy.

Prof. Paul Eidelberg, President
Foundation for Constitutional Democracy

Uncomfortable Issues

Filed under: Democratic MethodsKnesset/LegislativePoliticians — eidelberg @ 5:16 am Edit This

Israel’s ruling elites—politicians and judges, academics and journalists—say that Israel is a democracy, and most people believe them. Let’s examine this issue.

A basic principle of democracy is government by the consent of the governed. The meaning of the term “consent” becomes evident when we speak of individuals reaching the “age of consent.” At that time, individuals are deemed responsible for their behavior. They can sign contracts and participate in voting.

The term “consent” thus involves volition qualified by reason. Government by the consent of governed thus requires well-informed citizens. Being will informed necessitates knowledge of the true nature of Israeli government. Unfortunately, most Israelis, including many of the educated, are sadly lacking in such knowledge.

For example, Benjamin Netanyahu was asked by a representative of the media whether he favors a presidential system of government. He replied that such a system would give the president unlimited power! (more…)

27-Jul-2009

What is a Jew and What is a Jewish State?

Filed under: Democratic MethodsJudaism — eidelberg @ 6:53 am Edit This

Edited transcript of the Eidelberg Report. Israel National Radio, July 27, 2009.

In a recent article, I referred to Raphael Patai’s The Jewish Mind. Such has been the assimilation of so many Jews since the Enlightenment, so varied are the attachments of most Jews to Judaism, that Patai concludes that “a Jew is a person who considers himself a Jew and is so considered by others.”

In contrast to this subjective and vacuous definition of a Jew, I will argue that what is most distinctive of Jews is that which has preserved them as a people, the Torah and the Talmud.

Turning to specifics, I will mention only two unique characteristics of the Jew — and without disparaging countless Jews who do not exhibit these characteristics. The first is this: The Jew relates every question concerning thought, passion, and action to the Torah and regulates every facet of his life to the laws thereof—say the Halakha. If he is not learned in the Halakha, he consults his rabbi and defers to his judgment. And every rabbi has a rabbi.

It needs to be emphasized that the Talmud, rooted in the Torah, is more than a collection of laws. (more…)

21-Dec-2008

How Dictatorships Stay in Power

Filed under: Democratic MethodsUS & Global Policy — eidelberg @ 7:48 am Edit This

Only From Yamin Israel.

To stay in power, dictatorships make their subjects feel dependent on their rulers. To this end they must (1) concentrate decision-making in their own hands;   (2) dominate the economy;   (3) control the mass media;   (4) breed mutual distrust among their subjects to make them incapable of joint action;   (5) break their spirit by arousing fear of war.

Contrast the preceding with the situation in Israel, reputedly a democracy.

(1)  Decision-making in Israel is concentrated ostensibly in the Cabinet but actually in the Prime Minister. The PM can take unilateral actions the Cabinet dares not veto lest new elections result and terminate the posts and powers of cabinet ministers. This is why no Labor-led, no Likud-led, and no Kadima-led government has ever been toppled by a vote of no confidence. This means that the Cabinet pretty much controls how their colleagues vote in the Knesset. Furthermore, since members of the Knesset, hence MKs appointed to the Cabinet, are not accountable to the voters in constituency elections, they can ignore public opinion with impunity.

(2)  The government owns or controls most of the nation’s assets. (more…)

17-Dec-2008

Demophrenia Updated

Filed under: Democratic MethodsMulticulturalism/Moral Relativism — eidelberg @ 12:11 am Edit This

I am in the process of publishing a second and updated version of my book Demophrenia: Israel and the Malaise of Democracy. The updated version explains the pathological policies and statements of Israel’s current elites, including Ehud Olmert. I need to assess how many of you would be interested in purchasing this book. If you are interested, please contact us.

If you want an in-depth analysis of what ails Israel’s political and intellectual and some of its military elites, consult Chapter 5 of my book Demophrenia: Israel and the Malaise of Democracy. Here is a précis of the book’s central chapter:

Demophrenia

From its inception in 1948, the government of Israel, regardless of which party or coalition was at the helm, has been afflicted by “demophrenia.” Demophrenia is a deeply rooted malady of national and even of world-historical significance. Demophrenia involves an illogical and compulsive application of the democratic principles of freedom and equality to moral problems and ideological conflicts which are impervious to, and even exacerbated by, those principles. This disorder is most advanced in Israel, for its government is animated by a democratic mentality in conflict with Zionism, and ineffectual against the anti-democratic mentality of Israel’s Arab enemies.

To show that demophrenia is indeed a widespread but hitherto unrecognized mental disorder, I shall first review some of the literature on schizophrenia. (more…)

08-Dec-2008

Thinking About “Occupied Territory”

Filed under: Democratic MethodsOslo/Peace Process — eidelberg @ 6:00 am Edit This

What territory should we be thinking about? Answer, the Land of Israel in which Jews have lived since the time of Abraham, the teacher of ethical monotheism, hence the true founder of Western civilization.

However, let us only consider the territory west of the River Jordan excluding Gaza, now controlled by the enemies of Western civilization.

What is meant by “occupied” territory? Answer, territory controlled by a foreign force.

What is meant by a “foreign force”? Answer, an illegitimate government, in this case the government of Israel.

What is an “illegitimate government”? Answer, a government committed to the surrender of Jewish land—land for which myriads of Jews have yearned for, fought for, and died for.

To whom is this land being surrendered? Answer, to the implacable enemies of the Jewish people and of Western civilization—people animated by the Ethos of Jihad articulated in the Quran and the Hadith, i.e., the oral traditions relating to the words and deeds of Muhammad. (more…)

26-Nov-2008

Democracy and the Secret “Rule of Law” in Israel

Filed under: Constitution & RightsDemocratic MethodsRepresentation — eidelberg @ 5:32 am Edit This

There is much misunderstanding in the Diaspora and even in Israel about Israel’s system of government—an assortment of institutions that endow a few men with concealed and despotic power.

A basic reason for this pernicious state of affairs is Israel, unlike France or the United States, has no written constitution. Instead, Israel has a crazy-quilt variety of “Basic Laws” passed at different times by different governments led by different political parties.

Israel’s first Basic Law, The Knesset, was initiated by the Knesset Law Committee in 1958, ten years after the founding of the State. Some other Basic Laws are Israel Lands (1960); The President of the State (1964); The Government (1968); The State Economy (1975); The Army (1979); Jerusalem, Capital of Israel (1980); The Judiciary (1984).

A word about Basic Law: The Government. This law stipulates, “The Government is competent to do in the name of the State, subject to any law, any act whose doing is not enjoined by law upon another authority.” The Government can therefore declare war, make treaties, and change the exchange rate without ever consulting the Knesset! (more…)

19-Nov-2008

Israel’s Disarray

Filed under: Democratic MethodsMulticulturalism/Moral Relativism — eidelberg @ 7:25 am Edit This

Israel today is in a state of political disarray. Established political parties like the National Religious Party are dissolving. Other parties like Labor have become politically comatose. The ruling Kadima Party, formed by political opportunists from other parties, has no ideology apart from multiculturalism. This essentially anti-Jewish party wants to dissolve the State of Israel into “a state of its citizens.”

So does a new left-wing coalition emerging from the ruins of Labor and Meretz. Also emerging is a hodgepodge of reputedly right-wing groups opposed to any further territorial withdrawal, but like others, it lacks a national strategy.

Meanwhile, the Likud, which spawned Kadima, has opened its doors to various national figures to secure its chances of winning the February election. Lacking, however, is confidence that the Likud, under Benjamin Netanyahu, will withstand U.S. pressure to withdraw from Judea and Samaria. After all, the Likud voted against abrogation of the Oslo Accords, and Netanyahu, in addition to surrendering part of Judea and Samaria to the Palestinian Authority at the Wye Summit, also voted for “disengagement” when he was a minister in the Sharon government. So, while he is preferable to Tzipi Livni, serious people wonder whether he has the spine or the stamina to stand up to the United States and its bipartisan support for a Palestinian state?

The preceding is a small fraction of the political chaos now reigning in Israel. (more…)

10-Nov-2008

Five Basic Arguments Against A Palestinian State

Filed under: Democratic MethodsIslam & ArabOslo/Peace Process — eidelberg @ 11:28 pm Edit This

Edited transcript of the Eidelberg Report, Israel National Radio, November 10, 2008.

Contrary to the governments of the United States and Israel, various experts in both countries reject the “two-state” solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I shall mention their views while developing five decisive arguments against a Palestinian state: Economic, Demographic, Political, Strategic, and Democratic. Let’s begin with the—

1.  Economic Arguments

a.  A RAND study indicates that a Palestinian state would not be economically viable. It would require $33 billion for the first ten years of its existence—and this study was made before the economic crisis now confronting the United States and entire world.

b.  Besides, to confine more than two million Arabs to the 2,323 square miles of the so-called West Bank, and to squeeze another million into the 141 square miles of Gaza, is to doom these Arabs to economic stagnation and discontent. The projected state would be a cauldron of envious hatred of Israel fueled by the leaders of one or another group of Arab clans or thugs parading under the banner of Allah.

c.  Moreover, to compensate perhaps 200,000 Jews expelled from the “West Bank”—or even half that number—would bankrupt Israel’s government, to say nothing of the resulting trauma and civil discord. (more…)

06-Nov-2008

Biblical Freedom of Speech

Filed under: Democratic MethodsEthicsJudaism — eidelberg @ 6:55 am Edit This

Freedom of speech is a fundamental human value. This value seems to have its home in liberal democracy. In fact, liberal democracy exalts freedom of speech over all other values. Unfortunately, the exaltation of this freedom has led to its degradation. Today freedom of speech lacks rational and ethical constraints. Divorced from truth, freedom of speech has become a license to lie. To redeem and elevate freedom of speech, let us explore its pristine origin, the Bible of Israel.

Recall Abraham’s questioning the justice of G-d’s decision to destroy Sodom: “Peradventure there are fifty righteous within the city; wilt Thou indeed sweep away and not forgive the place for the fifty righteous that are therein? That be far from Thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked, that so the righteous should be as the wicked; that be far from Thee; shall not the Judge of all earth do justly?”

G-d permits Abraham to question Him. By so doing, the King of Kings affirms freedom of speech as a fundamental human right. But clearly this right, from a Judaic perspective, can only be derived from man’s creation in the image of G-d. Only because man is endowed with reason and free will does he have a right to freedom of speech. This right, however, must be understood in terms of the purpose or function of speech. (more…)

05-Nov-2008

Truth Versus Democracy

Filed under: Democratic MethodsJudaismUS & Global Policy — eidelberg @ 10:54 pm Edit This

Although democracies are hospitable to philosophy, it does not follow that democracies are truth-oriented. To the contrary, the freedom of speech and press enjoyed in democracies is actually rooted in the denial of truth. If democracies were truth-oriented they would not be tolerant of error. But as everyone knows, tolerance is a fundamental prerequisite of all democratic or pluralistic societies.

The pluralism of which democracies boast is another indication of their lack of truth-orientation. For this pluralism extends to the question of how should man live, and who does not know that democracies tolerate virtually every kind of “life-style”? Thus homosexuality has become as respectable as heterosexuality, and cheating has become a commonplace in high schools and colleges.

Democracies reduce truth to a private possession. Each individual becomes his own source of truth regarding good and bad, right and wrong, just and unjust. This is why public opinion polls have become the standard for public policy. In other words, opinion polls are required in democratic societies because in such societies each man’s opinion is deemed as valid as the next. This equality of opinion, manifested in the principle of “one adult, one vote,” is logically related to the denial of objective truth, the denial of objective standards as to how man should live or how society should be governed. (more…)

31-Oct-2008

A New American Party

Filed under: Democratic MethodsParty StructuresUS & Global Policy — eidelberg @ 6:15 am Edit This

In view of the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of America’s two major political parties, and regardless of the outcome of the November election, I urge Christian Zionists, religious Jews, and those dedicated to the Natural Rights doctrine of the Declaration of Independence and the American Constitution to form a new political party—to organize branches in every State of the Union to compete in the midterm elections of 2010.

Prof. Paul Eidelberg, President

23-Oct-2008

The Identity Crisis: Who are We and Who is Obama?

Filed under: Democratic MethodsIslam & ArabUS & Global Policy — eidelberg @ 5:19 am Edit This

Senator Barack Obama personifies an American identity crisis, a crisis also evident among the nations of Europe (to say nothing of Israel).

In Obama we behold a man whose origin and religious faith are mysterious, a man whose patriotism has been placed in question. I do not mention this to disparage Senator Obama, but rather to indicate that America itself and its future have become fearfully problematic.

Professor Samuel Huntington, an eminent political scientist, recently wrote a book entitled Who Are We? The title is both fitting and ironic. Huntington sees in America the ascendancy of multiculturalism, which cannot but erode any clear sense of national identity among American citizens. But Huntington himself is steeped in multiculturalism, since he is a cultural relativist—a far throw from his ancestor, the Samuel Huntington who signed America’s Declaration of Independence.

As a cultural relativist, Huntington cannot affirm “the self-evident truths” affirmed in that Declaration, the truths which America’s Founding Fathers derived from “laws of nature and nature’s God.” Such truths transcend space and time. They transcend “culture” and reject cultural relativism. (more…)

Semantic Subversion: Behind the Rise of Barack Obama

Filed under: Democratic MethodsEthicsOslo/Peace Process — eidelberg @ 4:53 am Edit This

When opinion rules, as it does in democracies, it is only necessary to examine, not its truth, but the number of those who express this opinion. It is not even necessary to examine whether any individual who expresses this opinion is serious or frivolous, whether his opinion is the result of reflection or of impulse, whether it is an abiding conviction or a passing fancy. Consequently, wherever opinions rule, people are less apt to take opinions seriously. Hence they will be less likely to develop the habit of critical thinking or of making logical and moral distinctions. Feelings or the emotions will thus tend to supplant logic. People will then become more susceptible to propaganda, whose target is the emotions.

It is in this light that we are to understand Senator Barack Obama’s use of such slogans as “Change!” and “Yes, we can.”

Since democracies, more than other regimes, are ruled by opinion, and since politicians modulate opinions with emotion, democracies are inherently prone to semantic subversion.. The adepts of semantic subversion use the media of democracy to concentrate public attention on emotionally appealing and simplistic solutions to complex problems. For example, the Arab-Israel conflict is commonly viewed as a territorial one. This is precisely how Senator Obama referred to the conflict when he visited Israel. Lacking a background of serious knowledge, he readily succumbs to the formula “territory for peace” as if it were the key to solving what in essence is a a religious conflict, or what Samuel Huntington calls a “clash of civilizations.” (more…)

19-Oct-2008

Professionalism

Filed under: Democratic MethodsCabinet/Executive — eidelberg @ 5:16 am Edit This

Israel desperately needs professionalism. Needed is a presidential system that relegates to the dust heap the system of multiparty cabinet government that enabled the Kadima-led coalition to achieve power and degrade as well as endanger this country.

One thing lacking in Israeli government is professionalism. What is a profession? What makes medicine, physics, mathematics, political science, architecture, astronomy, law, “professions”? They are also called “disciplines” because they require sustained and systematic learning. Professions, however, involve the transmission, from generation to generation, of organized knowledge and methods of inquiry that enable us to comprehend and perhaps control various domains of reality. Such knowledge is not necessarily progressive. Alfred North Whitehead, a philosopher-mathematician and historian of science, notes that “In the year 1500 Europe knew less than Archimedes who died in the year 212 BC.”

One finds in all professions outstanding minds. The history of philosophy, Whitehead remarked, is little more than a series of footnotes to Plato. Plato’s greatest student was Aristotle, the founder of political science who wrote treatises on 150 different regimes, in addition to original works on ethics, rhetoric, logic, poetics, physics, metaphysics, etc. The unequaled vastness of Aristotle’s knowledge dominated the curriculum of Western universities for two thousand years, and much of his knowledge is still relevant, especially Books III to VIII of his Politics. Indeed, what Machiavelli, the father of modern political science, knows compared to Aristotle can be put on a postage stamp! (more…)

10-Oct-2008

Accountability

Filed under: Democratic MethodsEthicsJudaism — eidelberg @ 4:10 am Edit This

Accountability is a basic Jewish concept, awesome during Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur. Whereas the Torah Jew knows he is accountable to G-d, the Government of Israel is accountable to no one.

The leaders of this Government boast that Israel is a democracy. One should then expect them to be accountable to the people. But Israeli politicians are accountable to the people only on election day. Once elected they ignore the convictions of those who elected them. In the January 2003 elections, a large majority voted for parties that opposed Labor’s “unilateral disengagement” policy by giving those parties 84 (or 70% of the) seats in the Knesset. Yet, the following year, the same Knesset enacted Disengagement by a vote of 67 to 45!

To whom is a Prime Minister accountable? No one. It was Ariel Sharon that adopted Labor’s policy of disengagement law, thereby nullifying the 2003 election!

To whom is Supreme Court accountable? No one. The Court is also above the law. It makes its own laws in utter disregard of the ethics and legal heritage of the Jewish people. (more…)

19-Sep-2008

The Mother of All Frauds

Filed under: Democratic MethodsParty StructuresOslo/Peace ProcessPoliticians — eidelberg @ 5:59 am Edit This

On September 17, Kadima, the ruling party of Ehud Olmert’s coalition government, held an election to determine who would replace him as Israel’s Prime Minister. The election was won by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, portrayed in the media as “Mrs. Clean.” The previous day, Caroline Glick, deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, wrote: “Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni may not be a crook, but she is a fraud … just one fraudulent election away from becoming our next prime minister.” [View article.]

As we shall see, however, Livni is not the mother of all frauds—merely one of its many children.

Glick sees that “unlike all the other party primaries that have been held over the years, the Kadima primary is designed not as a preparatory step ahead of general elections to the Knesset. Rather, it is intended to replace general elections.”

Having won that primary, Livni will have 42 days to put together a ruling coalition. Failure to do so would mean a new general election in early 2009, a year and a half ahead of schedule. Olmert, who is a crook as well as a fraud, will remain as a caretaker leader until a new coalition is approved by the Knesset. (more…)

14-Sep-2008

Two Cheers

Filed under: Democratic MethodsPoliticiansYamin Israel PartyRepresentation — eidelberg @ 4:08 am Edit This

Two cheers for Nathan D. Wirtschafter, a member of the Likud, whose article in The Jerusalem Post (September 11, 2008), “Direct elections begin with the Likud primary” comes close to advocating some of the institutional reform proposals of the Foundation for Constitutional Democracy and of the Yamin Israel Party.

Mr. Wirtschafter calls for “regional elections with single-member districts, a professional cabinet and a new judicial selection system … ”

To propose a professional cabinet is to propose, in effect, separation between the executive and legislative branches of government. The proposed cabinet would then no longer consist of the leaders of rival political parties (one of the root causes of Israel’s malaise). Mr. Wirtschafter could have clarified matters by simply and explicitly calling for a presidential system of government.

Unfortunately, his party leader, Binyamin Netanyahu, in an interview with the Russian Chanel-7, rejected district elections as well as a presidential system of government—and on the most frivolous grounds. As if he never heard of the U.S. House of Representatives and its 435 districts but only two political parties, Netanyahu said that district elections in Israeli would produce sixty political parties! (more…)

11-Sep-2008

Why Diogenes Can’t Find an Honest Man in the Knesset

Filed under: Democratic MethodsElectorate/Demographics — eidelberg @ 6:26 am Edit This

“Diogenes in Israel” is the title of a report I made on Israel National Radio on September 8, 2008. In that report I set forth compelling evidence confirming the public’s assessment that 95 percent, hence 104 of the Knesset’s 120 members, are not honest. In fact, the evidence indicates that the public was being generous in its judgment!

If we consider the various parties which propped up the Sharon government and which are therefore complicit in the crime of disengagement, there is hardly a single honest MK, even if he or she subsequently voted against disengagement. (See “Diogenes in Israel” for further clarification.)

The day after “Diogenes in Israel” first appeared, The Jerusalem Post published an article entitled “Who’s in charge here?” (September 9, 2008.) The author is professor of law Amnon Rubenstein, a former minister of education. He asks:

Who are Israel’s leading personalities? The Marker, an economic supplement of Haaretz last Tuesday selected the 10 most influential. The list begins with the all-powerful attorney-general, continues with a number of officials—the state comptroller, the state attorney, two senior police officers, the president of the supreme court, the governor of the Bank of Israel—and ends with a number of bankers and tycoons. It can be summarized as a who’s who of “wealth and law-enforcement,” as distinct from the much-touted “wealth and government.” (more…)

08-Sep-2008

Diogenes in Israel

Filed under: Democratic MethodsPoliticians — eidelberg @ 11:17 pm Edit This

Diogenes, the Greek philosopher, was exiled from his native city of Sinope and moved to Athens, where he is said to have walked through the streets carrying a lantern in the daytime, claiming to be looking for an honest man, but unable to find one. I wonder if he would find any in Israel’s Knesset?

According to The 2008 Israeli Democracy Index, 95 percent of the public in Israel deem members of the Knesset dishonest. If this assessment of the Knesset is correct, one may wonder why the remaining 5 percent stay in that den of iniquity.

If 95 percent of the Knesset’s 120 members are not honest, that leaves only six honest MKs! Let’s help Diogenes find an honest MK.

The Olmert coalition government is rightly deemed the most corrupt government in Israel’s history. That puts to shame 29 MKs from Kadima; 19 from Labor-Meimad; 12 from Shas; 7 from (the original) Gil Pensioners—a total of 67 MKs to which we may add another 5 from Meretz-Yachad, which said it will serve as a “safety net” for the Kadima government. We thus have 72 unsavory Knesset members. Pray, continue, says Diogenes. (more…)

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