Israeli Democracy, Fact or Fiction?
by WILLIAM A. COOK, CounterPunch 2003
A true Democracy must meet two criteria: one philosophical that presents the logic of its argument in a declaration and/or constitution; the other practical that demonstrates how the Democracy implements legislation, distributes resources, and makes equitable all policies and procedures for all its citizens.
Democracy is first and foremost a concept, a philosophical understanding concerning the rights of humans relative to the government that acts in their name. A Democratic government serves through the manifest consent of the governed. That government receives its authority through the citizens in whom the right resides.
Inherent in this philosophical understanding is the acceptance of the rights of all citizens that reside in a state: each and every citizen possesses the right to consent to the legitimacy of those who govern, and each and every citizen must receive equal treatment before the law.
For a state to claim a Democratic form of government, it must have an established geographic area accepted by other nations as legitimate and defined. The need for established borders is both obvious and necessary with necessity arising out of the obvious. Without borders, there can be no absolute determination of citizenry, and, therefore, no way to fulfill the establishment of the rights noted above. What has this to do with the Democratic state of Israel? Everything.
Israel has no accepted legitimate borders other than those provided to it by Resolution 181, according to Anthony D’Amato, Leighton Professor of Law at Northwestern University, in his brief “The Legal Boundaries of Israel in International Law”:
“The legal boundaries of Israel and Palestine were delimited in Resolution 181.” Since the 1967 war, the borders of the current area controlled by Israel exceed those outlined by the UN in Resolution 181 of 1948… Despite numerous resolutions from the UN demanding that Israel return to its proper borders, most especially Resolution 242, Israel defies the world body continuing to retain land illegally held.
Supremacy of the Torah
A democratic state must declare the premises of its existence in a document or documents that present to the world the logic of its right to govern. That usually comes in the form of a constitution. Unlike the Palestinians, Israel has no constitution.
Chuck Chriss, President of JIA writes, “Israel has no written constitution, unlike the United States and most other democracies. There was supposed to be one. The Proclamation of Independence of the State of Israel calls for the preparation of a constitution, but it was never done.”
Both Chriss in his article and Daniel J. Elazar, writing in “The Constitution of the State of Israel,” point to the same dilemma: how to reconcile the secular and religious forces in Israel. …
Many religious Jews hold that the only real constitution for a Jewish state is the Torah and the Jewish law that flows from it. They not only see no need for a modern secular constitution, but even see in such a document a threat to the supremacy of the Torah”
For a state to claim a Democratic form of government, it must accept the equality of all residents within its borders as legitimate citizens regardless of race, ethnicity, creed, religion, political belief, or gender.
For a state to claim it is Democratic and reserve the rights of citizenship to a select group negates its claim. It is an oxymoron to limit citizenship rights to Jews alone and call the state Democratic.
Pharisaism shaped the character of Judaism
Approximately 5 million Jews live in Israel. Orthodoxy is the only movement that is formally and legally recognized in Israel. Until very recently, only Orthodox Jews could serve on religious councils. The Orthodox rabbinate in Israel controls matters of personal status, such as marriage, conversion and divorce.
Orthodoxy or Rabbinic Judaism is the normative form of Judaism that developed after the fall of the Temple of Jerusalem (ad 70). Originating in the work of the Pharisaic rabbis, it was based on the legal and commentative literature in the Talmud, and it set up a mode of worship and a life discipline that were to be practiced by Jews worldwide down to modern times.
Pharisaism shaped the character of Judaism and the life and thought of the Jew for all the future. True, it gave the Jewish religion a legalistic tendency and made “separatism” its chief characteristic; yet only thus were the pure monotheistic faith, the ethical ideal, and the intellectual and spiritual character of the Jew preserved. (Jewish Encyclopedia)
Who were the Pharisees?
The Pharisees were one of the two largest Jewish sects in the first half of the first century CE.
Some say that the word “Pharisee” came from “Farsi”, a reference to their former Persian rulers, and to the fact that Pharisee beliefs were in some ways in accord with those of the Persian religion. … Jesus condemned them as hypocrites for being so concerned with the letter of the law while blithely ignoring its spirit.
A Pharisee was a highly strict enforcer of the the traditional law of Moses. Anyone who would do anything that opposed those laws at any amount would either be criticized in public about what they were doing, they would be brought before the court of religious law because that person was reported by a Pharisee. Most of the Pharisees would also be given orders to have people arrested who didn’t follow certain customs or traditions. (wiki.answers)
Pharisaism Exposed – Matthew 23
New American Standard Bible
Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them.
They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger. But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their [a]phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments.
They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men. But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers.
Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. … The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted…