Israel: Demography vs. Democracy
Preliminary election results from the Israeli elections are due in a couple of hours and no one who follows this even a little bit imagines that the path going forward is anything but fraught with uncertainty. Indeed it is not clear that given the polling that any stable government can be formed. But what is clear is that on this election day Netanyahu threw down on democracy. He is openly appealing to his base that the existential threat to Israel is a get out the vote campaign among ‘Israeli-Arabs’ aided in his view by foreign NGOs and hostile states.
In an American context this is exactly parallel to shouting “ACORN!” and “New Black Panther Party!” and “Aztlan!” Except where the latter cries are only an implicit (tho barely hidden) appeal to an old idea that ‘American’ = ‘Anglo-American Judeo-Christian’ that ‘dares not say its name’ Israel is officially committed to being a Democratic Jewish State. Well there is nothing democratic about voter suppression among those citizens of your country that are not Jewish (in the case of Israel) or ‘American’ (under the definition used by much of the American Right).
Israel faces some stark choices today. There is a path forward that yields an actual Democratic Jewish Israel. It runs through the Two State solution. There is another path that yields a simple Jewish State of Israel. It runs through a policy of Permanent Occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and perhaps through disenfranchisement of the ‘Israeli-Arab’ population of Israel proper. And for those of a certain Real-Politik frame, which at this point certainly includes Netanyahu, this may be workable and realistic, at least under the medium term. After all the apartheid regime of South Africa ‘worked’ (in the sense of supplying well-being to the white minority) for decades. As did in many ways and seen from the same perspective did Pinochet’s Chile over the same time period. And in both cases the U.S. government gave explicit support to both those regimes under the Kirkpatrick Doctrine.
But foreign policy ‘Realism’ or not what was clear to all was that neither South Africa or Chile was a democracy. Which wasn’t a problem to the Kissingers and Reagans and Kirpatricks then or to the Boltons and Kristols now. And it is certainly possible that U.S. governments going forward will simply embrace Israel under a Netanyahu policy of Neo-Apartheid as just being the ‘realistic’ thing to do. But as in the past it will make a mockery out of our claims to back ‘Democracy’. Because Israel will not be small d ‘democratic’.
Netanyahu threw off is cloak of deception by announcing that under no circumstances would there be a Palestinian State along side Israel. He doubled down by declaring an emergency for his party followers in the form of ‘Israeli-Arabs’ actually exercising their rights as citizens to a vote. That combination makes it impossible to have a Democratic Jewish Israel that permanently includes the West Bank. Such a State can be Democratic or Jewish but not both. (Not even if every European Jew exercised his or her right to Aliyah – another stop-gap policy Netanyahu has been pushing.)
It will be an interesting few hours, days and weeks ahead.
I suspect the demographic issue may be why Netanyahu called for the Jews in Europe to move to Israel after the French events. He is aware that long term Israel will not be a Jewish state as the Palestinian birth rate is significantly higher than the Jewish one.
yes. and while we puff ourselves up about democracy or the promise to joshua we might reflect that Israel is just another “nation” trying to survive in a world of other nations trying to survive. the conflict is nothing new under the sun. and the means the israelis employ are no different from those any other nation has employed. not to my taste actually, but i am in no position to judge.
Well I am in position to judge as are most European States and a lot of activists on college campuses.
Defenders of Israel often base their claim on “the only democracy in the MidEast”. Netanyahu effectively abrogated that by ruling out the 2 state solution and then depicting current Israeli-Arab citizens as some mixture of threat to the Jewish State and tools of outside agitators.
Netanyahu endorsed a Jim Crow Apartheid regime for his people. And defined ‘people’ in a way that didn’t include right on 55% of the people under his direct military, civil and economic control. You can call that what you like but it is not democracy.
Israel can expect two proximate results from this. One any lingering support in Europe based on the idea that Israel was at least officially entertaining a Two State solution and that the actual blocking parties were Hamas and less directly Hezbollah can now be expected to evaporate. And morever likely be escalated into direct boycotts of Israel’s tourist industry and agricultural products. The second result will be an escalation of the campus based BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) Movement. And almost all the current defenses of Israel will start to fall short
.South Africa was “just another “nation” trying to survive in a world of other nations trying to survive”. And was often defended on the basis that the ANC was a armed terrorist organization whose leader was rightfully locked up for life. Well that leader was Nelson Mandela. And as it turns out the “long arc of justice” eventually turned to Mandela and universal democracy in South Africa.
Because the world was in a position to judge. And did. Netanyahu this last weekend walked his people, defined here as Jews only right into that long range trap.
He’s only saying out loud what has been patently obvious from Israeli policy and military activity though.
Anyone who was fooled that Israel was ever going to be for anyone but a particularly extreme Jewish ideology bloc was simply fooling themselves, no one else was even trying to cover it up.
I’d say that “Jewish Democratic State” kind of tells you that right up front. Israel is for Jewish people only by self-proclamation.
don’t take it personally. i probably agree with you about the foolishness and immorality of the Netanyahu program.
What I was talking about is the danger of puffing ourselves up about any imagined difference between Israeli immorality and that of any other nation, including our own, in matters of national survival… or national aggression.
There may be another, better, solution; but I don’t think we get there by imagining that we are better than either of the antagonists.
This would be a trivial and banal observation if it were not the case that here, even here, on Angry Bear we see people who come all over about their higher morality and how they treat those who disagree with them, even on trivial matters or those about which they have no hope of having an effect.
I wonder if the Arab parties that took part in the election would consider Israel a democracy? I noticed the Joint List did well yesterday.
Well Little John I would suspect not.
The Joint List was made up of four smaller parties who have very very different political stances ranging from Communists to Radical Nationalist . The only reason they went with a Joint List was a blatantly racist attempt led by Foreign Minister Lieberman to raise the bar for participation in the Knesset. By raising the threshold for a party to gain ANY seats and setting that at a level above where ANY of the existing Israeli-Arab or Israeli Arab-Jewish parties had historically performed the clear attempt was to wipe out ALL of those parties from participation. The Joint List was simply a tactical way to preserve that participation.
But there was nothing democratic about the initial move. And there was NO Joint List before it. You seem to have cart ahead of horse here.
And Coberly while I do consider myself a Social Democrat I do not subscribe to the belief pattern often assumed to be typical of the Left, that of Relativism.
There are matters of Right and Wrong and degrees of Right and Wrong within those matters and taking a stance that since nobody is Pure that everyone is equally Corrupt is not a stance of Moral Relativism but instead one of Moral Bankruptcy.
And one that you don’t seem to share when it comes to things like Social Security. There you are perfectly happy to identify the Bad Guys by name and to be contemptuous of anyone who would claim that it was all just some “imagined difference”.
My first impressions of Israel were crystalized when I was about ten under the triple impression of Jame’s Michener’s The Source, the book and movie version of Leon Uris’s Exodus (a little irony there), and the 1967 War (which happened in my tenth year). That Israel was simultaneously brave and democratic and liberal (to the point of outright Social Democracy) and while proud of its role as a restored Jewish Homeland was largely identified with modern secularism and not medieval sectarianism of the type typifield by the Haredi, who by the way didn’t then have much of a presence in Israel.
That is back in 1967 the image of Israel was tied up with the Sabras of the Kibbutzes who were turning deserts into farms and not of a Haredi community who believes that the only real task of a man is Talmudic Studies and producing as many children as he can to be brought up on welfare even as he enjoys a military exemption.
The Ultra-Orthodox and the Greater Israel people have destroyed the image of ‘Plucky Israel’ built up over the first decades since the establishment of the State in 1948 and instead tried to impose a political, social and economic order indistinguishable from that of the Taliban (which name by the way means ‘Student’). I don’t have to give them the benefit of the doubt, not least because there is relatively little overlap between the Haredi and the Survivors.
There is a vocabulary that perfectly captures the underlying ideology of the Ultra-Nationalist Settler Movement. Unfortunately the Internet largely adheres to a ‘Law’ that makes it impossible to deploy. Even if you take a detour through the Book of Joshua. Well that is as may be but I don’t have to just say “well everyone does it”. Because everyone doesn’t do it. And certainly shouldn’t.
I am not arguing that morality is relative, or even that everyone does it.
As I said I probably agree with you about the morality and wisdom of Netanyahu.
What I was trying to say is that we might do ourselves more good if instead of getting puffed up about the immorality we tried to understand, first (perhaps) that damn near everyone does do it. And second, the Israelis see themselves as in mortal danger, and that justifies to them a certain moral expediency.
Just as it does to us, and…. damn near everyone else.
Dale I don’t see a lot of difference between “everyone does it” and “moral relativity” particularly if the response is to “hell with it”.
Plus you have explicitly endorsed the Israeli view of themselves as being in mortal danger and so implicitly (to be charitable) endorsed their moral expediency. Me I think they are totally paranoid in the worst sense. Netanyahu has come out and “explained” that the Iranians are in the grip of a particular type of apocalyptic/end times hatred of the Jews that they would willing sacrifice 77 million Irans, their Holy Cities in Iran and the third holiest site in Islam (al-Quds or Jerusalem) at the first chance they got to kill 6 million Jews.
That to me is literally insane on the part of Netanyahu and his followers and indicates a combination of Jews belief in themselves literally being the Chose People along with an End Times philosophy that rivals anything the nuttiest Left Behind cultist believes.
Maybe you believe that the Ayatollahs are so crazy/mad they would simply ignore M.A.D i.e. Mutually Assured Destruction. If so maybe you can throw Bibi a line here. Instead I see him as the guy whose policy over the last ten years has been to enable to Neo-Cons to get their atomic war on against Iran.
Well I am not willing to sacrifice my little great-nieces to the paranoid fears of a crackpot and just throw up my hands and say “Well that’s Bibi! What ya going do??” He is NOT just like “damn near everyone else”. The guy is a fruitcake with a big stockpile of nuclear weapons and an expressed will to use them.
In fact I believe that the only reason Israel hasn’t done a first strike is that they understand that they simply don’t have the capability to do so without direct U.S. support in the way of refueling and follow up attacks. Somethng I posted on here at AB in the context of the following report:
I have never seen a credible counter to this CSIS analysis. Israel has not struck because it knows it cannot strike effectively. And everything to the contrary is just the result of a huge bluff. By a madman who wants the Neo-Cons to do his dirty work. No thanks.
Like I said, Bruce,
I probably agree with you about Netanyahu. But I don’t see where we get any advantage out of puffing and blowing about his immorality.
And as a matter of mental hygiene, “everyone does it” is not the same as “moral relativity.”
And in fact, everyone does do it, given the right circumstances and the power to get away with it in the short run.
Now as a matter of deep philosophy, saying that the “Israelis see themselves in mortal danger” is not the same as “endorsing” their view. Otherwise why would you say, as you did here, that the Israelis see themselves in mortal danger?
Dale you are of course free to keep your mind as clean as you like. Me I don’t mind sacrificing some peace of mind to point out that we have madmen on the loose.
I don’t blame the Israelis for believing themselves in mortal danger. After all that is all they have heard from their political and media masters for decades.
On the other hand I don’t blame Americans for believing Social Security is in mortal danger. Because that is all they know.
But not blaming is not the same as just letting the respective Bad Guys get away with lies and/or promoting a fucking nuclear war.
Stilll by all means preserve your Precious Mental Fluids while our real world General Jack. T Ripper’s get their war on. As General Turgidson said in that same movie “Sure we’ll get our hair mussed” to the tune of maybe “20 megadeaths”. But what the heck?
Then again Dr. Strangelove was a bitter satire.
I still fail to see what we gain by working ourselves up into a self-righteous furor.
Maybe we could do something about that perception of mortal danger if we could focus on that without the same sort of hysteria that “the right” promotes in order to make the people afraid of us.
Or maybe not. It certainly didn’t do Martin Luther King any good.
After thinking about this post I am a little confused. You label Israel as a Neo Apartheid state and then explain that Arab citizens are voting. It appears that the Arab turn-out was the highest ever. Maybe you can elaborate on why you believe that the current Israeli government is a Neo-Apartheid state.
You also mention in the comments that the current Israeli government is paranoid. Do you think these kinds of statements justify a little paranoia?http://jcpa.org/article/20-threats-iranian-leaders-made-in-2013/
Little John I don’t have time to go over this in detail, then again you are just throwing stuff up against the wall.
1) Avidor Lieberman, head of Israel Beitanu and current Foreign Minister has made it clear that he wants to reduce or eliminate voting rights among even the current Arab-Israeli population. As part of that we see the new increased threshold requirement for participation in the Knesset that was openly designed to eliminate the existing parties with Arab membership. Instead you had Communists, and Nationalists, and Fundamentalists laying aside fundamental policy and political differences to form a United List that would at least assure that the current Palestinian represenation (made up of seculars, Christians and Muslims) would continue in some form. Given this attempt to wipe out Arab-Israeli participation it is not surprising that the result was increased turnout among those whose franchise was being openly attacked. In the U.S. context you might as well dismiss the continuing attacks on black voting rights in North Carolina as being nothing at all because they inspired the Moral Monday movement.
2. Plus you missed the bigger point. If Israel is truly abandoning the 2 State solution and so denying Palestinians outside the current official border of Israel the right to self-determination they have three possible paths forward: A) openly treat the West Bank and Gaza as conquered territory and a straight out Military Colony along the lines of the Belgian Congo, B) annex the West Bank and Gaza into Israel proper and allow all the new citizens of Israel the right to vote, or C) annex the West Bank and Gaza and deny those new citizens the franchise.
A) is illegal under International law
B) would make Jews a minority population in an officially proclaimed Jewish State
c) is indistinguishable from the South African Apartheid system
Only B is ‘democracy’ as defined. And could hardly remain an official Jewish State long term and stay a democracy.
3) I checked out the JCPA cite and site and am not impressed. One consider the source. Two the most explicit threats to Israel from actual leadership (1 through 4) are clearly in the context of a retaliatory strike to an Israeli attack on Iran. And no one can deny that the idea of a first strike is open advocated at the highest levels of the Israeli government and by prominent members of U.S. Republican leadership (e.g. John “bomb, bomb, bomb; bomb, bomb, Iran). That is these statements can alternately be considered the expression of all nation states to respond to armed attacks or a recognition of the M.A.D. factor. Three. Statement 5 is from a one star general in charge of the Basij militia, in the larger context of Iran a low ranking figure in a quasi-military organization. This is like saying that Steve King or the leader of the Oathkeepers speaks for the U.S. Statement 6 is from some stray lecturer from a University in Qom, or sort of like a Ward Churchill type. As to the rest NO ONE denies that there are hard liners in the Iranian power structure, not excluding the last President Ima-Dinner-Jacket. That is why we have sanctions and a policy of not allowing Iran to have a bomb. I am only pointing out that Israel and itstallies in the U.S. also have an extremist Strike First wing and that in practical terms there is no reason to believe that the actual Iran regime would launch a suicidal First Strike. On that point you are free to differ but I am not convinced by random rhetoric from 2nd echelon figures.
I know, time is always an issue and I appreciate your response. I wasn’t trying to throw shit against a wall, just wondered about what I perceived to be some contradictory items in your post.
In terms of the statements by Iranian leadership I’ve looked all over and can find tons of stuff about unclean Jews, wiping Israel off the map, etc. What I cannot find is any statements from Iranian leadership acknowledging Israel’s right to exist.
I may have missed it, but I didn’t see where you suggest a solution for the Israeli problem.
If they embrace true democracy, demographics will guarantee the end of the “Jewish State.” That might not seem to be a serious problem to you or me, but given the history of the Jews in Europe, perhaps you can understand why it would worry them.
I would go further and suggest that demographics is against them in the long run, democracy or not. Eventually the arab (and persian) states will evolve into technologically advanced powers and more likely than not be able to defeat Israel in any kind of a war or even economic competition.
Then, I hate to say this because you will accuse me of endorsing it, it might seem to them that they can buy time by maintaining a nuclear deterrent and hoping that time will reveal a better answer.
by the way
when i say “mental hygiene” i am thinking of avoiding sloppy thinking.
i am not thinking of “avoiding dirty thoughts,” though i suppose you may have heard the expression used to mean that.
Well Dale sorry but your thinking seems very sloppy to me.
As to solutions? A dismantlement of all West Bank settlements originally established without State authority and perhaps some turnover of those established WITH State authority in the process of establishing a new two State solution roughly on the boundaries of the pre-1967 War. This might require some establishment of East Jerusalem as an International City under UN auspices which would still allow co-location of official Israeli and Palestinian governmental institutions.
Or some variant of this as was being negotiated by Prime Minister Rabin and resulted in the Oslo Accords which were then derailedwhen a Right Wing fanatic assassinated him which then resulted in the ultimate takeover of Israel by a separatist regime.
BTW the assassin of Rabin is venerated by those who do in fact take the Book of Joshua as an Operations Manual.
The Right in Israel has always opposed any sort of Two State solution. And in extremis assassinated their own Prime Minister to prevent it. But somehow Dale you equate this to some sort of “everyone does it” frame as if this was just a slightly more down to earth version of what might happen in Chicago or Youngstown Ohio.
Now it may be that solutions that were achievable in 1995 are no longer so in 2015. But that is just to give the victory to Yigal Amir and the leaders like Sharon and Netanyahu who used that opening to destroy any chance of peace as envisaged under those Oslo Accords.
The assassination of Rabin was the Israeli version of the Burning of the Reichstad. It opened the road to the Right to take control of a formerly democratic state. The results just took a little longer to eventuate in full.
Interesting . . .
Let’s see, I think you are saying that abandonment of the settlements will assure worried Israelis that they won’t be destroyed by Arab terrorists or Arab states.
Those who voted for Netanyahu appear to believe that they can have peace, or at least win a war, by expanding their boundaries, growing their Jewish population, and making life unpleasant for Arabs.
And while I realize you haven’t assassinated anyone lately, that is not what I meant by “everyone does it.” I meant simply that as far as I can tell from what little history I know, “every” (a word that does not necessarily mean “every” but is meant to suggest “at least so common as to suggest something like a rule of nature”) “country” or group of people who identify themselves as something like a “nation” has responded to fear of their neghbors by resorting to war and repression of “the other.” or alternatively just in the animal spirits of seeking new horizons has no doubt inadvertently stepped on the people in their way. I mentioned this only to suggest that howling about the immorality of it was unlikely to change it. I did not go on to ask how “the enlightenment” had changed all that. as far as I remember Hitler did not appeal to Joshua or “faith.” he offered the eminently reasonable argument “we want your land. we are stronger than you. so we will take it.”
as for sloppy thinking: feel free to point out specifics. i am always anxious to correct my errors of fact or logic. but i don’t think an implied comparison with fictional characters or even real historical characters will change my mind about anything unless the comparison is made more rigorous than “i saw a movie once where the lead villain worried about his body fluids and your “mental hygiene” made me think of that proves that you want to atom bomb Iran.”
but as for
“But somehow Dale you equate this to some sort of “everyone does it” frame as if this was just a slightly more down to earth version of what might happen in Chicago or Youngstown Ohio.”
you left out Memphis and Dallas and New York.
i went back to reread this and i still don’t understand it:
“The assassination of Rabin was the Israeli version of the Burning of the Reichstad. It opened the road to the Right to take control of a formerly democratic state. The results just took a little longer to eventuate in full.”
as i remember (i was very young at the time) the Reichstag was burned, it was said, by an opponent of the German Right. this gave the German Right the excuse to treat the Left very badly.
The assassination of Rabin was done, it was said, by a member of the Israeli Right. this gave the Israeli Right the opportunity to treat the Left very badly?
Somehow this does not rhyme.
hmmm, maybe it’s like “the British governor of Virginia threatened to arm the slaves to put down the rebellion. this gave the rebels the excuse to rebel.
yes, I see. something happens before an event, sometimes a long time before the event, and therefore it’s the same as some other case where something happened before an event. proof of cause?
well, maybe, if you have Faith in Reason.