The socialists who founded modern Israel were committed not to a Jewish state so much as to a secular democratic state. The economic goals of socialism, however, require a concentration of political-economic power in government. Socialism therefore eventuates in state capitalism—the control of a nation’s wealth by political commissars.
However democratic Israel may be from a sociological perspective, it is ruled by rotating oligarchy that has truncated and emasculated the Jewish state.
The oligarchy is ensconced in the cabinet. There, cabinet ministers control various sectors of the economy, and do so less with a view to economic efficiency than with a view to enlarging their own personal or partisan power.
One researcher notes that the rate at which the salary of Knesset Members (MKs) increases is three times that of the average Israeli. In addition to salary, MKs are paid for car upkeep, lodging in Jerusalem, entertainment expenses, and special health care benefits for themselves and their families. Also, an MKs pension is payable at age 40 rather than 60 or 65, as for ordinary mortals, and the pension is computed on the basis of his entire salary, including such items as automobile or travel expenses and clothing allocations. Incidentally, MKs can make 25,000 phone calls per year at no charge—and not only while serving in the Knesset, but for life!
Israel’s reputed democracy is a fiefdom, not to say a thiefdom. This fiefdom is perpetuated by the very design of Israel’s political institutions. Changing the prime minister will not change the oligarchic and corrupt character of Israeli government.
All honor to Israel’s socialist founders! Credit them for their material accomplishments and the ingathering of a million Jews. But the parliamentary system they created—proportional representation of fixed party lists competing in a single countrywide constituency with an electoral threshold that allows parties to multiply like mushrooms—is a political monstrosity. This “system” fragments the nation. It renders it impossible to achieve national unity or to cultivate Jewish national pride and purpose—preconditions of Jewish survival.
To survive, Israel must have a government whose structure and goals are distinctively Jewish. (Here I will be accused of advocating a theocracy, even though in Judaism there is no ruling class, no “clergy” and no “laity.”) One does not have to be an observant Jew, or even Jewish, to understand that Israel cannot survive in a hostile Arab sea unless its government consist of Jews proud of their Jewish heritage.
From the very outset, however, Jewish self-effacement was distinctive of Israel’s socialist leaders. David Ben-Gurion penned this piece of Jewish self-denial for posterity: “An Arab should also have the right to be elected President of Israel.”
Not that the Likud is so different. Its erstwhile spiritual mentor, Vladimir Jabotinsky, anticipated Ben-Gurion with this piece of democratic flapdoodle: “In every Cabinet where the Prime Minister is a Jew the Vice-Premiership shall be offered to an Arab, and vice-versa.”
I have often said that the Likud is merely the rightwing of the Labor Party. Kadima proves it.
To end on a positive note, however, let me offer five measures required to obtain an efficient as well as authentic Jewish government:
(1) Replace multi-party cabinet government with a presidential system, one that excludes Knesset members from the cabinet.
(2) Introduce constituency or multi-district elections to make Knesset members individually accountable to the voters.
(3) Enforce Basic Law: The Knesset, which prohibits any party that negates the Jewish character of the state.
(4) Democratize the mode of electing the Supreme Court, now a self-perpetuating oligarchy.
(5) Introduce serious Jewish studies in the public school curriculum.
That’s right: we need a Jewish state in Israel.