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abuayisha
 
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Quote abuayisha Replybullet Topic: Israel’s Fading Democracy
    Posted: 05 August 2012 at 6:25am

Israel’s Fading Democracy

By AVRAHAM BURG

Jerusalem

WHEN an American presidential candidate visits Israel and his key message is to encourage us to pursue a misguided war with Iran, declaring it “a solemn duty and a moral imperative” for America to stand with our warmongering prime minister, we know that something profound and basic has changed in the relationship between Israel and the United States.

My generation, born in the ’50s, grew up with the deep, almost religious belief that the two countries shared basic values and principles. Back then, Americans and Israelis talked about democracy, human rights, respect for other nations and human solidarity. It was an age of dreamers and builders who sought to create a new world, one without prejudice, racism or discrimination.

Listening to today’s political discourse, one can’t help but notice the radical change in tone. My children have watched their prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, kowtow to a fundamentalist coalition in Israel. They are convinced that what ties Israel and America today is not a covenant of humanistic values but rather a new set of mutual interests: war, bombs, threats, fear and trauma. How did this happen? Where is that righteous America? Whatever happened to the good old Israel?

Mr. Netanyahu’s great political “achievement” has been to make Israel a partisan issue and push American Jews into a corner. He has forced them to make political decisions based on calculations that go against what they perceive to be American interests. The emotional extortion compels Jews to pressure the Obama administration, a government with which they actually share values and worldviews, when those who love Israel should be doing the opposite: helping the American government to intervene and save Israel from itself.

Israel arose as a secular, social democratic country inspired by Western European democracies. With time, however, its core values have become entirely different. Israel today is a religious, capitalist state. Its religiosity is defined by the most extreme Orthodox interpretations. Its capitalism has erased much of the social solidarity of the past, with the exception of a few remaining vestiges of a welfare state. Israel defines itself as a “Jewish and democratic state.” However, because Israel has never created a system of checks and balances between these two sources of authority, they are closer than ever to a terrible clash.

In the early years of statehood, the meaning of the term “Jewish” was national and secular. In the eyes of Israel’s founding fathers, to be a Jew was exactly like being an Italian, Frenchman or American. Over the years, this elusive concept has changed; today, the meaning of “Jewish” in Israel is mainly ethnic and religious. With the elevation of religious solidarity over and above democratic authority, Israel has become more fundamentalist and less modern, more separatist and less open to the outside world. I see the transformation in my own family. My father, one of the founders of the state of Israel and of the National Religious Party, was an enlightened rabbi and philosopher. Many of the younger generation are far less open, however; some are ultra-Orthodox or ultranationalist settlers.

This extremism was not the purpose of creating a Jewish state. Immigrants from all over the world dreamed of a government that would be humane and safe for Jews. The founders believed that democracy was the only way to regulate the interests of many contradictory voices. Jewish culture, consolidated through Halakha, the religious Jewish legal tradition, created a civilization that has devoted itself to an unending conversation among different viewpoints and the coexistence of contradictory attitudes toward the fulfillment of the good.

The modern combination between democracy and Judaism was supposed to give birth to a spectacular, pluralistic kaleidoscope. The state would be a great, robust democracy that would protect Jews against persecution and victimhood. Jewish culture, on the other hand, with its uncompromising moral standards, would guard against our becoming persecutors and victimizers of others.

BUT something went wrong in the operating system of Jewish democracy. We never gave much thought to the Palestinian Israeli citizens within the Jewish-democratic equation. We also never tried to separate the synagogue and the state. If anything, we did the opposite. Moreover, we never predicted the evil effects of brutally controlling another people against their will. Today, all the things that we neglected have returned and are chasing us like evil spirits.

The winds of isolation and narrowness are blowing through Israel. Rude and arrogant power brokers, some of whom hold senior positions in government, exclude non-Jews from Israeli public spaces. Graffiti in the streets demonstrates their hidden dreams: a pure Israel with “no Arabs” and “no gentiles.” They do not notice what their exclusionary ideas are doing to Israel, to Judaism and to Jews in the diaspora. In the absence of a binding constitution, Israel has no real protection for its minorities or for their freedom of worship and expression.

If this trend continues, all vestiges of democracy will one day disappear, and Israel will become just another Middle Eastern theocracy. It will not be possible to define Israel as a democracy when a Jewish minority rules over a Palestinian majority between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea — controlling millions of people without political rights or basic legal standing.

This Israel would be much more Jewish in the narrowest sense of the word, but such a nondemocratic Israel, hostile to its neighbors and isolated from the free world, wouldn’t be able to survive for long.

But there is another option: an iconic conflict could also present an iconic solution. As in Northern Ireland or South Africa, where citizens no longer spill one another’s blood, it will eventually become clear that many Israelis are not willing to live in an ethnic democracy, not willing to give up on the chance to live in peace, not willing to be passive patriots of a country that expels or purifies itself of its minorities, who are the original inhabitants of the land.

Only on that day, after much anguish, boycotts and perhaps even bloodshed, will we understand that the only way for us to agree when we disagree is a true, vigorous democracy. A democracy based on a progressive, civil constitution; a democracy that enforces the distinction between ethnicity and citizenship, between synagogue and state; a democracy that upholds the values of freedom and equality, on the basis of which every single person living under Israel’s legitimate and internationally recognized sovereignty will receive the same rights and protections.

A long-overdue constitution could create a state that belongs to all her citizens and in which the government behaves with fairness and equality toward all persons without prejudice based on religion, race or gender. Those are the principles on which Israel was founded and the values that bound Israel and America together in the past. I believe that creating two neighboring states for two peoples that respect one another would be the best solution. However, if our shortsighted leaders miss this opportunity, the same fair and equal principles should be applied to one state for both peoples.

When a true Israeli democracy is established, our prime minister will go to Capitol Hill and win applause from both sides of the aisle. Every time the prime minister says “peace” the world will actually believe him, and when he talks about justice and equality people will feel that these are synonyms for Judaism and Israelis.

And for all the cynics who are smiling sarcastically as they read these lines, I can only say to Americans, “Yes, we still can,” and to Israelis, “If you will it, it is no dream.”



Edited by abuayisha - 05 August 2012 at 6:26am
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flyffdzd
 
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Quote flyffdzd Replybullet Posted: 05 August 2012 at 10:42pm
i hope every country can be peaceful and rich.
Everything is good!
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Caringheart
 
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Quote Caringheart Replybullet Posted: 06 August 2012 at 7:58pm
"How did this happen? Where is that righteous America? Whatever happened to the good old Israel?"
I think what has happened is that Israel has been under constant attack ever since its inception after WWII.  No matter how they have tried, those high ideals with which they began have not been allowed to be realized.
"BUT something went wrong in the operating system of Jewish democracy. We never gave much thought to the Palestinian Israeli citizens within the Jewish-democratic equation. We also never tried to separate the synagogue and the state. If anything, we did the opposite. Moreover, we never predicted the evil effects of brutally controlling another people against their will. Today, all the things that we neglected have returned and are chasing us like evil spirits."
Other nations would do well to pay attention and learn.
"The winds of isolation and narrowness are blowing through Israel. "
"But there is another option: an iconic conflict could also present an iconic solution. As in Northern Ireland or South Africa, where citizens no longer spill one another’s blood"
"Only on that day, after much anguish, boycotts and perhaps even bloodshed, will we understand that the only way for us to agree when we disagree is a true, vigorous democracy. A democracy based on a progressive, civil constitution; a democracy that enforces the distinction between ethnicity and citizenship, between synagogue and state; a democracy that upholds the values of freedom and equality"
"When a true Israeli democracy is established, our prime minister will go to Capitol Hill and win applause from both sides of the aisle. Every time the prime minister says “peace” the world will actually believe him"
I am with flyffdzd and his comment.  It should be the desire of everyone.
Heart


Edited by Caringheart - 06 August 2012 at 8:01pm
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whitelion553
 
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Quote whitelion553 Replybullet Posted: 01 December 2012 at 10:14pm


Dr. Mahmud Ahmadinejad President of the Islamic Republic of Iran before the 65th Session of the United Nations General Assembly

about the glorious Iran,
We have observed the regulations of the IAEA more than our commitments, yet, we have never submitted to illegally imposed pressures nor will we ever do so.
It has been said that they want to pressure Iran into a dialogue. Well, firstly, Iran has always been ready for a dialogue based on respect and justice. Secondly, methods based on disrespecting nations have long become ineffective. Those who have used intimidation and sanctions in response to the clear logic of the Iranian nation are in real terms destroying the remaining credibility of the Security Council and the trust of nations for this body, proving once and again how unjust is the function of the Council.
When they threaten a great nation such as Iran which is known throughout history for its scientists, poets, artists and philosophers and whose culture and civilization is synonymous to purity, submission to God and seeking justice, how can they ever expect that other nations grow confidence on them?

It goes without saying that domineering methods in managing the world has failed. Not only has the era of slavery and colonialism and dominating the world passed, the path to the reviving old Empires are blocked, too.
We have announced that we stand ready for a serious and free debate with the American Statesmen to express our transparent views on issues of importance to the world in this very venue.
It is proposed here that in order to have a constructive dialogue, an annual free debate be organized within the General Assembly.

In conclusion,
The Iranian nation and the majority of the world’s nations and governments are against the current discriminatory management of the world.
The inhumane nature of this management has put it at a dead-end and requires a major overhaul.
Reforming the world’s affairs and bringing about tranquility and prosperity requires the participation of all, pure thoughts and the divine and humane management.
We are all of the idea that:
Justice is the basic element for peace, durable security and the spread of love among peoples and nations. It is in the justice that mankind seeks the realization of his aspirations, rights and dignity, since he is wary of oppression, humiliation and ill treatment.
The true nature of mankind is manifested in the love for other fellow humans and love for all the good in the world. Love is the best foundation for establishing relation amongst people and amongst nations.
As Vahshi Bafqi, the great Iranian poet, says:
“From the fountain of youth, drink thousand sips
You’ll still die if you don’t have love’s grip”
In making a world full of purity, safety and prosperity people are not rivals but companions.
Those who see their happiness but in the sorrow of others and their welfare and safety but in others' insecurity, those who see themselves superior to others, are out of the path of humanity and are in evil’s course.
Economy and materialistic means are only some tools to serve others, to create friendship and strengthen human connections for spiritual perfection. They are not tools for show-off or means of dominating others.
Freedom is a divine right that should serve peace and human perfection.
Pure thoughts and the will of the righteous are keys to the gates of a pure life full of hope, liveliness and beauty.
This is the promise of God that the earth will be inherited by the pure and the righteous. And the people free from selfishness will take up the management of the world. Then, there will be no trace of sorrow, discrimination, poverty, insecurity and aggression. The time for true happiness and for the blossoming of the true nature of humankind, the way God has intended, will arrive.
All those seeking for justice and all the free spirits have been waiting for this moment and have promised such glorious time.
The complete human, the true servant of God and the true friend of the mankind whose father was from the generation of the beloved Prophet of Islam and whose mother was from the true believers of the Jesus Christ, shall wait along with Jesus the son of Marry and the other righteous to appear on those brilliant times and assist the humanity.

i try to say only facts
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Matt Browne
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Quote Matt Browne Replybullet Posted: 02 December 2012 at 3:58am
I don't think Israel's democracy is fading. Like most Palestinians, most Israelis suffer from collective trauma. Victims of trauma lose the ability to think straight.

A religion that's intolerant of other religions can't be the world's best religion --Abdel Samad
Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people--Eleanor Roosevelt
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Shaik Speare
 
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Quote Shaik Speare Replybullet Posted: 02 December 2012 at 11:16pm
Originally posted by Caringheart


"I think what has happened is that Israel has been under constant attack ever since its inception after WWII.  No matter how they have tried, those high ideals with which they began have not been allowed to be realized.
"
Show me one instance where any army invaded any part of UN designated Israel. And what high ideals were they aspiring to realise with no defined borders and constitution?
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Caringheart
 
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Quote Caringheart Replybullet Posted: 03 December 2012 at 11:52am
Originally posted by Shaik Speare

Originally posted by Caringheart


"I think what has happened is that Israel has been under constant attack ever since its inception after WWII.  No matter how they have tried, those high ideals with which they began have not been allowed to be realized.
"
Show me one instance where any army invaded any part of UN designated Israel. And what high ideals were they aspiring to realise with no defined borders and constitution?


Greetings Shaik Speare,
You have to read the opening article of this thread, to which I was responding. Smile

Salaam,
CH
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