The Foundation for Constitutional Democracy

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…)

25-Jun-2008

Poli. Sci. 101 for MK Yitzhak Levy

Filed under: Democratic MethodsCabinet/ExecutiveKnesset/LegislativeRepresentation — eidelberg @ 6:16 am Edit This

Edited transcript of the Eidelberg Report, Israel National Radio, June 23, 2008.

Knesset Member Yitzhak Levy wants to raise the number of Knesset members from 120 to 150. As reported in The Jerusalem Post last week (June 18, 2008), Levy complains that “the workload placed on MKs had grown to such an extent that it was simply impossible to adequately study the issues upon which MKs were expected to vote in a plenum, as well as in committees in which they sit.”

Mr. Levy also complains that, given the system of coalition cabinet government, some 30 MKs—one out of every four members—currently serves as either a minister or deputy minister, and that’s an additional assignment which distracts from their participation in the legislative function.

Levy’s proposal to increase the Knesset’s membership may be indicative of the incompetence of Israel’s legislative body. Let’s compare the Knesset with the American House of Representatives, beginning with the House. (more…)

07-Feb-2008

Eureka!—Enlarged

Filed under: Cabinet/ExecutiveRepresentationThe Foundation — eidelberg @ 8:22 am Edit This

Ladies and gentlemen, your attention please. Professor Yehezkel Dror, a member of the Winograd Committee as well as a world-renowned Israel Prize Laureate in public policy, announced, at the prestigious Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center, that Israel must replace its parliamentary system to improve decision-making, which failed so miserably during the Second Lebanon War.

Professor Dror thereby affirmed what the Foundation for Constitutional Democracy, founded by the present writer and Dr. Mark Rozen of blessed memory, have advocated in books, policy papers, public lectures, radio and television programs, and countless articles since 1995.

Let me explain Dror’s statement insofar it was reported by The Jerusalem Post on February 6, 2008. (more…)

27-Nov-2007

The 30-Year Olmert Government

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Edited transcript of the Eidelberg Report, Israel National Radio, November 26, 2007.

  1. Since the Camp David Summit of 1978, Israel has had no less than ten governments led either by the Likud, Labor, or Kadima. Whether “Zionist” or “post-Zionist,” “rightwing” or “leftwing,” all have pursued the same policy of “territory for peace.” All have contributed to the physical truncation and spiritual emasculation of Israel—and with the collaboration of the religious parties.

  2. It were as if the same government had been in power for almost 30 years! Yet certain Knesset members—with the American presidency in mind—tell us: “How can we endure four years of Olmert?” This ad hominem argument betrays unforgivable ignorance about Israeli government as well as about American government. On the territorial issue, Israel has had 30 years of “Olmert.” (more…)

19-Sep-2007

A Political Dictionary for Israelis and Immigrants: Part I

A. Democracy: Two Types

  1. Normative” or classical democracy: based on the idea of man’s creation in the holy image of God. This provides democracy’s basic principles, freedom and equality, with rational and moral constraints. (Freedom is not “living as you like,” and equality is not a leveling but and elevating principle. The holy nation is a “kingdom of noblemen.”)

  2. Normless” or contemporary democracy. No ethical standards. Freedom is living as you please, and equality leads to vulgarity via the equivalence of all lifestyles. (Moral equivalence: “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.” Arafat is awarded a Nobel Peace Prize.) (more…)

18-Sep-2006

How Some Nations Empower Their People: Israel Disenfranchises Them—Part II

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Edited transcript of the Eidelberg Report, Israel National Radio, September 18, 2006.

As indicated in Part I, members of Israel’s Knesset are not individually elected by or accountable to the people in constituency elections. This enables Knesset members to ignore public opinion with impunity. That’s what 23 Likud MKs did when they voted for Sharon’s Labor-inspired policy of “disengagement,” a policy rejected by a vast majority of the people in the 2003 election.

This policy—Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza —led to the war with Hezbollah in Lebanon, as recently confirmed by former Chief of General Staff Moshe Yaalon.

Now it’s easy to blame Israel’s fiasco in that war on the flawed character of Israel’s political elites. But if we consider how disengagement via the Evacuation Law was passed, the war would not have occurred were it not for the flawed character of Israel’s system of governance—a system that virtually disenfranchises the Jewish people. Let’s probe a little deeper. (more…)

15-Aug-2005

Proclamation & Petition: Sharon Must Resign

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Please disseminate as widely as possible. Sign this as a petition online!

Fellow Citizens and Friends of Israel!

The Land and People of Israel are in great danger. We, who experienced Soviet totalitarianism, and took part in the struggle against tyranny, recognize the familiar signs—the party oligarchy called “Israeli democracy” is turning into a one-man dictatorship—that of Ariel Sharon. (more…)

01-Jan-2002

Kings, Presidents, and Israel’s Prime Minister

Filed under: Cabinet/ExecutiveJudaism — eidelberg @ 10:28 pm Edit This

The Hebrew term for king, melech, primarily implies a chief “counselor,” a president whose intellectual and moral qualities warrant his elevation and authority. What follows is the Scriptural basis for kingship in Israel (Deut. 17:14-15):

“When you come to the land which the L-rd your G-d is giving you, and shall have taken possession of it and have settled therein, you will eventually say: ‘We would appoint a king, just like the nations around us.’ You must then appoint a king from among your brethren; you may not appoint a foreigner …” The last verse suggests that clause of the American Constitution which requires a president of the United States to be a native-born American. Contrast Israel. (more…)

05-Jul-1999

10 Short Position Papers - VII

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VII - Refuting Arguments Against Presidential Government
Professor Paul Eidelberg

Various arguments are made against presidential vis-a-vis parliamentary government. Some political scientists contend that, given the president’s fixed term of office, the political process becomes broken into discontinuous, rigidly determined periods without the possibility of continuous readjustments as political, social, and economic events may require. No evidence, however, is offered to substantiate this academic contention. One may equally argue that most governments under parliamentary systems run their allotted tenure of four years and are equally discontinuous.

Alternatively, it could be argued that presidentialism reduces the uncertainties and unpredictability inherent in parliamentarism. Parliamentary systems usually involve a large number of parties whose leaders and their rank-and-file legislators often undergo changing loyalties and realignments and can therefore, at any time between elections, make basic policy changes and even change the head of the executive, i.e., the prime minister. A country like Israel, surrounded by hostile dictatorships, requires strong and predictable executive power, hence presidential government. (more…)

1o Short Position Papers - I

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I - Why Israel Needs A Presidential Form of Government
Professor Paul Eidelberg

The first concern of any statesman is National Unity on the one hand, and National Security on the other. This should be obvious in a country like Israel, surrounded by autocratic regimes.

To obtain national unity, Israel needs a Unitary Executive. Even now, with a popularly elected prime minister, Israel has not a Unitary but a Plural Executive. This is the consequence of coalition cabinet government. Coalition cabinet government, with its multiplicity of parties—each with its own agenda—is inherently incapable of formulating and executing coherent, comprehensive, and resolute national policies. (more…)