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Democratic Methods Ethics Judaism


Accountability is a basic Jewish concept, awesome during Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur. Whereas the Torah Jew knows he is accountable to G-d, the Government of Israel is accountable to no one.

The leaders of this Government boast that Israel is a democracy. One should then expect them to be accountable to the people. But Israeli politicians are accountable to the people only on election day. Once elected they ignore the convictions of those who elected them. In the January 2003 elections, a large majority voted for parties that opposed Labor’s “unilateral disengagement” policy by giving those parties 84 (or 70% of the) seats in the Knesset. Yet, the following year, the same Knesset enacted Disengagement by a vote of 67 to 45!

To whom is a Prime Minister accountable? No one. It was Ariel Sharon that adopted Labor’s policy of disengagement law, thereby nullifying the 2003 election!

To whom is Supreme Court accountable? No one. The Court is also above the law. It makes its own laws in utter disregard of the ethics and legal heritage of the Jewish people.

So there is no accountability in Israel—one reason why I have urged the adoption of a constitution consistent with Jewish principles. Lacking such a constitution, Israel today is governed not by the rule of law but by the arbitrary rule of men.

Judaism may or nor be democratic, but no one holding office under the Torah is above the Law. Indeed, G-d Himself must observe the Torah!

The Torah is a covenant to which G-d, as a party, subordinates Himself. In other words, G-d subordinates Himself to the law of which He is the creator. How different from the Latin maxim Princes legibus solutus est—The Ruler is not bound by the law—a relic of which will be found in modern Israel: “No act of legislation shall diminish the rights of the State, or impose upon it any obligation, unless explicitly stated” (Interpretation of Ordinance, section 42). Contrast the Jerusalem Talmud:

A human king issues a decree. He may choose to obey it; he may choose to have only others obey it. Not so the Holy One, praised be He. When He issues a decree, He is the first to obey it, as it is stated: ‘And they shall observe my observances, I am the L-rd,’ I am He who was the first to observe the commandments of the Torah (Rosh Hashana 1:3a).

That G-d observes His own laws is the origin of the “rule of law” commonly but misleadingly associated with democracy. I say “misleadingly” because there are two basic types of democracy: Classical or Normative Democracy and Contemporary or Normless Democracy. Only Normative Democracy is compatible with the Torah and the rule of law.

Normative Democracy posits a “Higher Law” to which parliaments and kings are subordinate. In this kind of democracy all men can be held accountable for their behavior because here freedom and equality have ethical constraints. Normative Democracy recognizes distinctions between good and evil, right and wrong, just and unjust. This kind of democracy does not prevail in Israel, where freedom leads to permissiveness and equality levels all moral distinctions.

What dominates the mentality of Israel’s secular elites is Normless Democracy. Here uncritical freedom and indiscriminate equality reign supreme. Here Kadima as well as Labor and Likud governments have released and armed Arab terrorists and murderers, and with hardly a protest from the religious parties. Here homosexuals, lesbians, and prostitutes are brought to and honored in the Knesset. Here all lifestyles are morally equal. This is why loyal and disloyal citizens enjoy equal rights in Israel. This is why Israeli prime ministers have sat down with, and treated as their equals, Arab thugs like Yasser Arafat and Abu Mazen—and have not held them accountable for their crimes against the Jewish people.

Obviously lacking here is a sense of honor and justice. Add a lack of moral courage. Jerusalem Post columnist Caroline Glick highlighted this in an article “A coward for prime minister.” Her intrepid article was published on June 21, 2005. She was referring to Ariel Sharon.

Sharon was not held accountable and condemned in any earthly court for his betrayal of the Jewish people when, in August 2005, he implemented Labor’s policy of retreat from Gaza by expelling its 8,000 Jewish residents—a crime that has no name in Israel.

Earlier in the same month Glick wrote “A coward for a prime minister,” Sharon’s vice-premier, Ehud Olmert, idiotically told a New York audience “we’re tired of being courageous.” Olmert displayed his craven character a year later during the Second Lebanon War. Thus far, he has not been held accountable and condemned in any earthly court for that ruinous war. Indeed, he continues to degrade Israel by following Sharon’s policy of retreat and defeat, a policy pursued by his culpable successor who struts across the stage of Israeli politics accountable to no one.

This is the Normless Democracy of which Israel boasts, but whose lack of accountability so many Jews will be oblivious of on Yom Kippur.

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