Sunday, June 06, 2010

Don't count on the 'opposition'...

Israel is a Western-style democracy, right? The 'only one' in the Middle East, yeah? Well, apart from the fact that Zionist democracy really more a democracy for Israeli Jews that it is for Israeli Arabs, of late we're hearing increasing internal complaints about the state of democracy in the Jewish state.

Gideon Levy in Ha'aretz seriously questions whether there's a functioning opposition in Israel, so vital for the functioning of any democratic state. In view of the developments of the past days, this does not bode well for any course adjustments needed vis-à-vis the blockade, the 'Palestinian question' and peace... In short: don't count on Livni.


Suddenly Tzipi Livni's authoritative voice was heard in the Knesset. "Let MK Hanin Zuabi have her say. Democracy is tested by its tolerance and readiness to hear other voices, even subversive ones," Livni said. Silence fell over the hall.

Zuabi ended her speech uninterrupted and the Kadima leader rose to the podium. Knesset members of all factions sat up straight, in anticipation of what she had to say. This always happens when Livni takes the podium. For an hour the opposition leader outlined her impressive credo, blasted the government and proposed a well-formulated alternative. Stop the blockade, it has only caused damage. I would have allowed the flotilla to reach Gaza; I'd call all the Palestinian people's representatives to the negotiating table immediately, to reach peace based on the 1967 borders and a solution to the refugee problem. Israel's international status and democratic character are immeasurably more important to its future than continuing the occupation.

Are you pinching yourselves? Of course you are. None of this actually happened, nor could it ever happen.

Read the rest...


At 8:37 PM, Blogger Emmanuel said...

Despite the fact that we have the worst government and Knesset we've ever had, with too many politicians who don't value democracy, we're still a democratic society with open debate. The official Knesset opposition is certainly dysfunctional and isn't doing its job, partly because Kadima isn't really that much more liberal than the Likud. Some of its members are actually worse than some of the Likud's members.

However, to paint Israel as monolithic is just not true. The media has been very critical of the flotilla operation, and government ministers interviewed on television found themselves justifiably under attack by journalists. Knesset members have also been critical of the operation, and they tended to be members of the coalition (Labor MK's, even including one cabinet member, Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, who was not one of the seven who discussed the raid before its execution). There was also a demonstration on Friday against the government, though it didn't draw as large a crowd as such demonstrations used to.

So, parliamentary opposition might be weak and dysfunctional, but extra-parliamentary opposition is alive and kicking.

By the way, I find Levy's assertion that Israel hasn't had an opposition since 1977 just bizzare. Other than years when we had unity governments, we had quite vocal oppositions, including most recently when Netanyahu was Ehud Olmert's opposition. Sure, it's an opposition from the "wrong" side, not Levy's camp, but it's an opposition nonetheless.

At 4:05 AM, Blogger Frank Partisan said...

I would go back to the Tel Aviv mayoral elections, where the Communist Party received 35% of the vote.

Israel is democratic in form. What is missing is the separation of church and state.

In America the two parties are two wings of the same class. We don't even have a labor party. I would still call America a democracy.


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