Written by Yuval Brandstetter
April 16, 2008
by Yuval Brandstetter MD
(This is a rebuttal to an article in The Economist, click on article title "A Systemic Problem", in their April 3rd issue)
The Economist is a British paper published in what used to be the center of the industrialized civilized world, and now is merely Londonistan. (1) The editorial quoted by the Media (2) takes on the issue of the multi-party political system in Israel, which is supposedly unique, and aims to prove that it is deleterious to the future of the Jewish State, or even places it at jeopardy.
Let us review the Economist article and dissect its fallacies one by one.
First, the Economist asserts that "Many of Israel's problems stem from its political system." That is the first fallacy. Israel's problems start from Albion's defaulting on her obligations, as spelled out in the British Mandate over Palestine, namely, to establish the Jewish National home, and encourage the "close settlement of Jews" in Mandatory Palestine. Had Britain adhered to the League of Nations Mandate of San Remo 1922, (3) which assigned the West Bank to the Jewish National Home, Israel would have been flush with six million Jews from Europe, and their progeny, and the whole Arab-Jewish conflict would have been a non-starter. Perfidious Albion did not. Six million Jews perished and the minority that remained were forced to duke it out with British-armed, British-trained foreign invaders from the East. That is the source of most of Israel's many problems.
Constitution-writing is indeed a daunting task. Let us recall the length of time it took for the British constitution to be finalized since the Magna Carta (centuries). Or the American constitution of many amendments and endless constitutional bickering. Taking sixty years to write a constitution that will fit a country made up of Jewish returnees, Jewish refugees, and their would-be assassins (in their own words) is indeed a twinkle of the historic eye. Indeed it is not clear what can be gained from a constitution when one is already in existence for three thousand years: The Jewish Bible, and its endless amendments.
The vacuum of authority the Economist speaks of is exactly the same in all democratic countries actually concerned with self-defense. Can the Economist name one non-totalitarian country where this vacuum is adequately addressed? Is Italy, where a government lasts a year on the average, not a viable democracy? Does England with its rock-sold democratic institutions seem to deal better with the Islamic threat? Is the US not embroiled in military fiascos and a de-stabilized economy? Is Holland not rocked by Islamic violence and wide-spread emigration of its best and finest? Israel is no exception, only more so, not due to its political system, but due to its geo-political situation, a nation under a constant threat of annihilation.
The notion of Aharon Barack framing a constitution via his activist style of jurisprudence is mis-leading. Aharon Barack is actually a politician who was trying to rule the country from the bench, knowing he would never be elected by the People. His model, to which The Economist obviously subscribes, is the North-European Utopian State that brushes aside real problems in favor of the non-existent Utopia,. Aharon Barack failed for the same reason a constitution cannot be written and imposed: The real facts, the real threats, the real enemy from within and without nullify the virtual world he was trying to super-impose on Reality.
Asa-el's main thrust as quoted by the Economist is that the present political system has depleted the leadership of charismatic moral people. Nothing is further from the truth. Charismatic people such as Rabin, Peres, Netanyahu and Sharon did rise to the top through the system, and promptly betrayed their voters' trust. It is not the System which is to blame, but the Media Political milieu which directs them away from the harsh realities to follow the politically correct Utopia where foreign invaders can be appeased with parcels of Land. The derogatory fashion in which the Economist refers to "religious" or "Populist" brings into view its own editorial bent , which is secular and elitist, I.E Barack-like. Charismatic moral people will rise through any system, provided it is not corrupted with Virtual Utopian thinking, as espoused by the Economist.
The ills described as exclusive to the System are actually rife in any democracy. Pork-barreling is an American specialty, and extreme views are exemplified by both republican and democratic nominees when trying to attract the hard-core party members, those who actually vote in the primaries. As for dubious regional representation, Gerrymandering has always been a tool for those who would assure certain voters get their undue representation.
When it comes to fulfilling the League of Nations mandate, that's where the Economist goes haywire, twisting facts and rewriting history. Those "few" tens of thousands are actually closer to half a million, since most of Jewish Jerusalem is now beyond those irrelevant armistice lines. In fact, the proportion of Jews whose home is now in tracts of the Land liberated in 1967 is larger than the proportion of Arabs whose home is in pre-1967 Israel, about 20%. These "territories" are actually the heartland, the midlands of Israel, taken by force of arms from the Jewish National Home by the British-led Arab Legion sixty years ago, and liberated 40 years ago. The "settlers" in the midlands are no different, in Arab eyes, from any other Jew living in Israel, witness the ongoing bombardment of "Israel Proper" issuing from Gaza, or the Hizzbullah rockets from Lebanon. Moreover, it is presumptuous of the Economist to determine the present state of affairs is a National Security threat. A situation that holds up for forty years is at least twice as good as the volatile 20 years that preceded it. Actually those heartland settlers may be construed as the buffer that enhances National Security. It all lies in the eyes of the beholder. The Economist prefers the situation where British-led forces continue to occupy the heartland, exclude Jews from living in their own heartland, Jew-free Judea, Jew-free Samaria, an Islamo-Nazi utopia. The fact that this situation existed for 19 years, and goaded the Arabs to complete the invasion of Cis-Jordan all the way to the sea (in their own word) seems to escape the close scrutiny of the Economist.
Peretz's failure as defense minister had nothing to do with his military inexperience or political machinations. It had everything to do with his Peace-in-our-time Chamberlain-like attitude. Nor is it the first time the top posts are held by a non-military personality. David Ben Gurion, prime-minister and minister of defense was an illustrious corporal in the Turkish army and a trade-unionist just as Peretz is. That did not prevent him from laying down the foundations of the Security establishment. Nor did the Lebanon failure stem from ill-preparation or inexperience. It stemmed from the rejection of a military victory as a desirable outcome, a policy compatible with the Media-dominated world where an editorial in the Economist, however divorced from reality, counts for more than the Will of the People. When reality is ignored, it comes back with a resounding bang.
Quoting an anonymous Gidi from a think-tank financed by who-knows is not exactly an assurance of veritas. Gidi asserts that the present political system where every voter can identify with a party stands in the way of economic success. The facts are that Israel has steadily risen from the ranks of the backward third world nations to the top tier of developed nations, despite being surrounded by enemies, infiltrated by enemies, and being forced to negotiate its very heartland with implacable enemies at the behest of so-called friends. Is it possible that the adoption of the non-representative regional system of Britain and the US might have degraded Israel's remarkable economic success? The per—capita measure versus the US is irrelevant since it includes the population dedicated to the destruction of Israel from within, via misuse and abuse of the social security safety-net. Take this population out of the equation, and Jewish Israel is a top-ten contender.
The political solution offered by Grinstein assumes that a left-center party will always be the largest, which fits his secular-elitist views (otherwise he would not be quoted by the Economist). It does nothing to forestall the likelihood of an extreme-left party gaining a small margin and forcing the country into partition, something the vast majority of the Jewish voters abhor.
The main point the Economist makes is that political reform that will establish a two-party system will allow a future leadership to impose a re-enactment of the 1947 partition plan. The economist is right, in the wrong way. The 2001 elections were actually a two-party system, where the Left Post-Tsionist block was decisively defeated by the Right National block. But then the leader of the Right National Block along with a sizeable coterie turned out to be a plant of the extreme left. This coterie invited the Left Block into the coalition, then used contra-democratic tactics reminiscent of Soviet Russia to impose the extreme-left agenda on the public betrayed, dropping the right-block partners by the way-side. This experience speaks against the fidelity of large inclusive parties, and against automatically giving the top post to the largest party.
Let me quote the Economist, while changing a few words. These minor changes bring the article much closer to reality, and to a future of peace and stability
"It may be idle to imagine that something as prosaic as a new electoral system could prevent this. The breakdown of the Palestinian polity may have gone too far already. But if a moderate Israeli leader could take on the Arabs without fear of the government collapsing, perhaps he could start a process of gradual disconnection of the Palestinians from the West Bank to convince Israelis that a Palestinian State already exists, established by the British Mandate in Palestine, on the East Bank of the Jordan, and that is where their National aspiration should be directed. "
1. Londonistan http://www.danielpipes.org/blog/298