Foundation Blog
Democratic Methods Judaism

The Deification of Democracy

Democracy has become the godless religion of Israel. Democracy alone endows Israel’s ruling elites with respectability and legitimacy. Just hear how they boast of Israel as “the only democracy in the Middle East, or listen how the word “democracy” is ever dripping from their lips!

Even though the word “democracy” doesn’t appear in Israel’s “Declaration of Independence,” and even though Israel’s ruling elites refer to Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state,” notice how they exalt, legislate, and institutionalize democratic values over Jewish values.

Ponder the High Priest of Israeli democracy, Supreme Court president Aharon Barak. No one has been as cunning and as disingenuous as this supreme law-giver of the so-called Jewish State. Thus, in a lecture at Haifa University, Judge Barak had the audacity to say that “the term ‘Jewish and democratic’ is not a contradiction, but rather a completion.”

Strange that no religious party has had the wit or courage to refute this palpable falsehood of a judge who has legalized homosexuality, gay marriage, and pornography, and has even ruled, contrary to King Solomon, that it is unlawful to spank a child. Perhaps our rabbis are afraid to publicize the undemocratic aspects of Torah Judaism. Let us do so, however briefly.

1) The Torah undemocratically divides the Jewish people into Kohanim, Levites, and Israelites, but allows only Israelites to own land.

2) The Kohanim’s authority is supreme over the Temple Mount, but not in society at large.

3) If the wife of a Kohan is raped, he must divorce her. Not so for the wife of a Levite or of an Israelite.

4) In procuring their release from captivity, “a Kohan takes precedence over a Levite, a Levite over an Israelite, and an Israelite over a bastard…; but if the bastard is more learned in the Torah and the Kohan is ignorant of the Torah, the learned bastard takes precedence over the ignorant Kohan.”

5) Furthermore: “If a man and his father and his teacher are in captivity [for ransom], he takes precedence over his teacher, and his teacher takes precedence over his father, while his mother takes precedence over them all [because of her greater vulnerability].” Clearly, the order of precedence is determined by learning, unless a woman’s life or honor is at stake.

These Jewish laws stand in stark contrast to the indiscriminate equality or egalitarianism of contemporary democracy.

Of course, the Torah also embodies various egalitarian principles; but the above examples clearly indicate that Jewish equality does not involve the leveling of distinctions characteristic of democratic equality. Nor is this all.

Judaism involves deference to wisdom, respect for parents, modesty in speech and conduct. This is hardly typical of contemporary democracy, as television makes painfully clear. TV programs and commercials stultify the mind and arouse the paltriest desires. Note the pandering to youth by making parents appear ridiculous. Note the emphasis on sex and violence. All this is consistent with democratic freedom of expression, which, far from completing Judaism, violates its moral values.

All this is so obvious that it cannot be ignorance that prompted Judge Barak to say that “the term ‘Jewish and democratic’ is not a contradiction, but rather a completion”—as if the Torah had to await Judge Barak to attain perfection. Evident here is intellectual dishonesty. Yet, not a single party (apart from Yamin Israel) has exposed Barak’s duplicity and the palpable contradiction between Judaism and contemporary democracy.

There is not a single party in the Knesset that does not advocate, or at least pay lip service to, the political equality of all inhabitants of Israel even though every party is aware of the fact that complete political equality would doom Israel as a Jewish state if Jews ceased to be a substantial majority of Israel’s population—as no less than Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin warned in 1976.

Israel’s demise as a Jewish country inevitable given the deification of democracy, a shibboleth more immune to criticism than any religious dogma.

But what irony! For as I have elsewhere shown, Israel is not, and never has been, an authentic democracy—as one may learn from David Ben-Gurion’s memoirs! If this state can be classified, I would call it either an anarchy punctuated by oligarchy, or a democratically elected despotism as Ariel Sharon made clear to those with eyes to see and ears to hear. The people of this country have been genuflecting to a myth—a myth that serves the interests of Israel’s ruling elites.

I will now go even further: Every contemporary democracy is more or less a fraud—a facade by which various elites—political and business elites, academic and cultural elites and of course media elites—manipulate the masses. These elites use and manipulate the legal system to advance their own interests, and woe to those who endanger their power!

To be sure, pseudo-democracies are preferable to outright tyrannies, for while these democracies also render the masses powerless, they do not impoverish them. Shopping malls are everywhere.

But if contemporary democracy is a myth that legitimizes the ruling elites, let us put an end to this myth in Israel and prepare the ground for a new kind of democracy—one consistent with Judaism. This is the key purpose of my book Jewish Statesmanship, to which I shall refer in another article.

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