The Foundation for Constitutional Democracy

23-Aug-2009

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…)

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…)

19-Dec-2007

There are No Zionists in the Knesset!

Filed under: Knesset/LegislativeZionism/NationalismPARTIES & PERSONALITIES — eidelberg @ 7:51 am Edit This

Although the title of this article may appear outrageous, it is the only logical conclusion one can draw from irrefutable facts about Israel’s Knesset..

No one will deny that the Knesset’s three Arab parties (10 seats) are not Zionist—right?

No one will deny that the Knesset’s “ultra-religious” parties, Shas (12 seats) and Torah United Judaism (6 seats), are not Zionist—right?

No one will deny that Kadima (29 seats), Labor-Meimad (19 seats), Gil Pensioners (7 seats), and Meretz-Yachad (5 seats) are not Zionist—indeed, all support the policy of “Jewish land for peace”—right?

But what about Israel Beiteinu (11 seats), Likud (12 seats), and the National Religious-National Union coalition (9 seats)? Sorry, but they too are not Zionist! (more…)

13-Dec-2007

An International Jewish Parliament

Filed under: Constitution & RightsKnesset/LegislativeThe Foundation — eidelberg @ 5:35 am Edit This

First published April 1996, Jerusalem Foundation Papers.

Overcoming Israel’s Fatal Flaw: Plan III—An International Jewish Parliament

“The majority of the people living in a Jewish State must be Jewish. We must prevent a situation of an insufficient Jewish majority and we dare not have a Jewish minority….There is room for a non-Jewish minority on condition that it accept the destiny of the State vis-à-vis the Jewish people, culture, tradition, and belief. The minority is entitled to equal rights as individuals with respect to their distinct religion and culture, but not more than that.”

Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin
Tel Aviv, May 6, 1976

 

Israel’s Fatal Flaw

The most neglected and most urgent issue confronting Israel—the issue implicit in the above headnote—is the Arab vote. It was the Arab vote that brought the Labor Party to power in the June 1992 Knesset elections. It was the Arab vote that led to the Oslo Accords and the shrinkage of Israel. Unless this issue is resolved, Israel will not see much of the 21st century.

Increasingly obvious in Israel is a fatal flaw. The flaw originated in the Proclamation of the Establishment of the State of 1948. (more…)

10-Dec-2007

Some Prerequisites of Representative Democracy: They’re Missing In Israel

Filed under: Democratic MethodsKnesset/LegislativeRepresentation — eidelberg @ 5:17 am Edit This

Few people in Israel have anything but the most superficial knowledge of representative democracy and its prerequisites. But then, what else should be expected in a country whose ministry of education systematically omits this topic from the public school curriculum and where even universities seem to be black holes on the subject?

It should first be understood that constituency or multi-district elections is a prerequisite of representative democracy. What is not widely known is that representatives divide their constituencies into four distinct groups of voters, each of which they treat differently.

  1. 1)  The largest group of voters is the district as a whole, or the Geographic Constituency. (more…)

07-Dec-2007

Treason

Filed under: EthicsKnesset/LegislativeOslo/Peace Process — eidelberg @ 5:40 am Edit This

To: Members of the Knesset—Especially Those Identified with the Nationalist Camp.

1) How many of you are cognizant of certain acts prohibited by the Law of Treason, namely:

  • The category of acts which “impair the [territorial] sovereignty” of the State of Israel—section 97(a)—such as the 1993 Oslo Agreement;

  • The category of acts which “impair the [territorial] integrity” of the State of Israel—section 97(b)—such as the 2005 evacuation of the Israel Defense Forces from Gaza and the surrendering of this land to Hamas; (more…)

23-Oct-2007

Knesset Against Annapolis

Filed under: Knesset/LegislativeCURRENT ISSUES — eidelberg @ 6:30 am Edit This

Israel’s Knesset Votes Against Annapolis

More than half the Knesset members from both the Opposition and Coalition factions have signed a petition against Olmert’s plan to give away parts of Jerusalem to the Palestinian Authority. The document rejects this unlawful plot to relinquish Israel’s sovereignty over the Old City—the city holy to Jews throughout the world and to Christians everywhere who abhor the prospect of Muslim sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem.

The Knesset is of course the supreme law-making branch of the State of Israel. (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…)

08-Feb-2007

Why the Knesset Tolerates Judicial Imperialism—Postscript

Filed under: Supreme Court/JudicialKnesset/LegislativeCURRENT ISSUES — eidelberg @ 8:09 am Edit This

The Knesset has welcomed the appointment of Supreme Court critic Prof. Daniel Friedman as justice minister. The members of the Knesset will now have their cake and as well as the icing. They see in Prof. Friedman’s appointment two things favorable to their own prerogatives:

  1. a person who has been very critical of the Court’s usurpation of the Knesset’s legislative powers; and

  2. a person whose secular, leftwing orientation is consistent with the Knesset’s own political orientation—the orientation of the Establishment.

Although Prof. Friedman’s appointment is favorable to the rule of law that has been violated by Israel’s juristocracy, it still remains for the Knesset to amend Basic Law: Judiciary to curb the Court and restore a proper division of power between the judicial and legislative branches of government. Let us hope that the new minister of justice will be able to facilitate this objective.

06-Feb-2007

Why the Knesset Tolerates Judicial Imperialism

Filed under: Supreme Court/JudicialKnesset/Legislative — eidelberg @ 1:15 am Edit This

Edited transcript of the Eidelberg Report, Israel National Radio, February 5, 2007.

Part I

At the risk of offending religious people, I am going to argue in Part II of this essay that Israel’s religious parties have unwittingly contributed to judicial imperialism and the secularization of Israeli society. However, to defend this conclusion, I must set forth, in Part I, statements made by eminent Israelis who have denounced the Supreme Court for exceeding its lawful powers and endangering the democratic as well as Jewish character of the State.

Former President of Israel, the late Chaim Herzog: “In a democracy, according to [Justice Aharon] Barak, the courts are placed above the Government. In my humble opinion, this approach endangers, in certain cases, the very basis of democracy.” (more…)

18-Sep-2006

Against Judicial Despotism In Israel

Filed under: Supreme Court/JudicialKnesset/Legislative — eidelberg @ 10:09 am Edit This

Israel’s Supreme Court stands accused by eminent citizens of Israel of exceeding its lawful powers and endangering the democratic as well as Jewish character of the State.

Former President of Israel, the late Chaim Herzog: “In a democracy, according to [Court President Aharon] Barak, the courts are placed above the Government. In my humble opinion, this approach endangers, in certain cases, the very basis of democracy.” (more…)

29-Aug-2005

To Support Elon is to Support the System

Filed under: Knesset/LegislativePoliticiansDisengagement — eidelberg @ 6:30 pm Edit This

Don’t Be Deceived: To Support Elon is to Support the SYSTEM
Disengagement: The Ugly Truth About the Knesset

1. In October 2004, the Knesset passed the unilateral Disengagement bill by a vote of 67 to 45. Amazing, because this Knesset came into existence as a result of the January 2003 election, when parties opposed to unilateral Disengagement won 84 Knesset seats or 70% of the Knesset’s membership. (more…)

16-Aug-2005

Martin Luther King In Israel

Filed under: Democratic MethodsKnesset/LegislativeDisengagement — eidelberg @ 8:45 pm Edit This

As I indicated several years ago, as well as very recently, Martin Luther King’s civil disobedience movement (unless supplemented by other measures) is not likely to stop Sharon’s expulsion plan in any part of Israel. To understand why, we must understand the legal and political context which made Martin Luther King’s civil rights movement a success. (more…)

01-Jan-2002

Policy Papers - An International Jewish Parliament

Filed under: Domestic PolicyJudaismKnesset/LegislativeIsrael’s Sovereignty Papers — admin @ 2:09 pm Edit This

An International Jewish Parliament Versus The Jerusalem Summit
Professor Paul Eidelberg

Back in April 1996, the newly established Foundation for Constitutional Democracy, recognizing the demoralized state of affairs in Israel, cognizant of the fragmented and inept character of Israel’s system of government, and seeing that Israel’s political elites were trapped in the impossible policy of “territory for peace”—a policy that is undermining not only Israel but even world Jewry, proposed the establishment of an International Jewish Parliament. (more…)

Policy Papers - Jewish National Agenda

A Jewish National Agenda
Professor Paul Eidelberg

A. Parliamentary Electoral Reform

As indicated in the previous article, statesmanship requires (1) well-educated statesmen, (2) a well-disposed people, and (3) well-designed political institutions. It will be obvious that of these prerequisites, indeed, of all the various elements of political life, the easiest to change are election rules. (more…)

Policy Papers - A National Camp

Israel’s Problem, and Getting Back to a National Camp
A WORKING PAPER PREPARED BY THE FOUNDATION FOR CONSTITUTIONAL DEMOCRACY

PART I. DIAGNOSIS OF ISRAEL’S MALAISE

1. In 1992, two Arab parties with five Knesset seats made the Rabin Government and Oslo possible. Seven years later three Arab parties had 10 Knesset seats. In two decades, the democratic principle of one adult/one vote will transform Israel into an Islamic dictatorship. Long before that, however, Israel will succumb to a Lebanese-type civil war. Yet no party in the Knesset has the courage to address this ominous state of affairs. (more…)

05-Jul-1999

10 Short Position Papers - II

Filed under: Knesset/Legislative Papers — admin @ 1:35 pm Edit This

II - How to Increase the Power and Dignity of the Knesset
Prof. Paul Eidelberg

The 1949 Transition Law renders the Knesset the most powerful branch of Israeli government, if not the most powerful legislature in the world. In fact, however, the Knesset is not only weak, but it is losing more and more of its remaining power to the Supreme Court. This is ironic, because the Supreme Court, unlike its American counterpart, is not a co-equal branch of government. To the contrary, it derives its legal power from the Knesset! Nevertheless, the Court now acts like a super legislature, arousing criticism from former Supreme Court justices as well as ­from politicians and academics across the political spectrum. (more…)

01-Jan-1999

Policy Papers - Congress of Salvation

Filed under: Domestic PolicyKnesset/LegislativeIsrael’s Sovereignty Papers — admin @ 2:03 pm Edit This

Needed: A Congress of National Salvation
Professor Paul Eidelberg

The Congress will address the urgent need of Jewish unity and national security, and will do so by means of clearly defined, goal-directed Jewish leadership.

A. General Aims of the Congress (more…)

18-Dec-1998

The Barak Court

Filed under: Supreme Court/JudicialKnesset/Legislative — eidelberg @ 10:41 pm Edit This

Jerusalem Post, Dec 18, 1998, p. 16

In three successive weeks, the courts have handed down precedent-setting rulings that contain the seeds for fundamental change in the way the country looks and feels. The first was the November decision by the High Court of Justice to force the religious councils in Jerusalem and Kiryat Tivon to seat representatives of the Reform and Conservative movements, a small victory by these movements in their struggle to gain recognition and legitimacy in the eyes of the state. The second decision came two weeks ago, when the Jerusalem Labor Court ruled that kibbutz shopping centers could remain open to the public on Shabbat.

This ruling drastically changed a situation in which only selected places of “cultural activity” such as theaters and cinemas were permitted to operate on Shabbat. An appeal on this is inevitable. (more…)