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There are No Zionists in the Knesset!

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!

Israel Beiteinu is pretty obvious. Chairman Avigdor Leiberman, a political chameleon, has his own version of “Jewish land for peace.”

Likud is also obvious. Benjamin Netanyahu surrendered 80% of Hebron. He surrendered 42% of Judea and Samaria at Wye. And he voted for withdrawal from Gaza as a member of the Sharon government. Indeed, the mere fact that he intones “reciprocity” when dealing with the Palestinian Authority means he does not oppose a continuation of the leftwing policy of “Jewish land for peace.”

As for National Religious and National Union, both factions signed the Sharon government’s coalition agreement of March 2003, which bound the signatories to the Oslo Accords. Moreover, both parties advocate a national referendum on the issue of further territorial withdrawal—hardly a Zionist position, especially when 20% of Israel’s population consists of Arabs and another 8% is non-Jewish.

However, quite apart from the above considerations, and even if any member of the Knesset opposes further territorial withdrawal, such as MK Arieh Eldad—all honor to him—the thesis of this article, namely, “There are No Zionists in the Knesset,” remains valid!

Let us ignore the religious meaning of the word “Zion,” which, strictly speaking, would exclude all secular members of the Knesset from the category of “Zionist.” Whatever else it may mean, Zionism means Jewish nationalism or nationhood. But to be a genuine Jewish nationalist one must empower the nation—the people of Israel—something foreign to the stated position of Knesset members like Arieh Eldad, Benjamin Netanyahu, and other so-called Zionists.

The mere fact that a present (or former) MK fails to advocate direct, personal election of Knesset members on the one hand, and a unitary executive or presidential system of government on the other, indicates that he is not an authentic—certainly not a thoughtful—Zionist-cum-Nationalist. Wittingly or otherwise, he is perpetuating a system of government that renders Jewish nationhood futile, as I will now show.

Nothing fragments the nation of Israel more than making the entire country a single electoral district in which parties compete on the basis of Proportional Representation (PR).

This was understood and deplored by eminent Israelis, including David Ben-Gurion, as early as 1951, after the first two Knesset elections.

● They saw that PR severs the representational bond between the voters and members of the Knesset—which is tantamount to disenfranchising the people of Israel.*

● They saw that PR intensifies conflict between diverse sections of the nation.

● They saw that PR splits the Government into rival parties, renders it transient, and makes it virtually impossible to pursue a long-range national strategy.

One has to be a discerning and devoted nationalist to grasp these facts and to propose remedial institutional reforms. But how discerning must one be to see that a government or cabinet consisting of five or six or more rival parties—inherently divisive and inept—makes nonsense of Jewish nationalism or nationhood.

If this is fairly obvious, however, then motives having nothing to do with Zionism (or with Zion) must be prompting those opposed to serious institutional reform.

* This is the consequence of compelling citizens to vote for closed party lists, which enable MKs and cabinet ministers to ignore public opinion with impunity.

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