Friday, December 1, 1995

Democracy and Majority

Hebron-Past, Present and Forever
by David Wilder
The Jewish Community of Hebron

Democracy and Majority
December 1, 1995
The magic words - democracy and majority. Democracy - rule of the
people. Majority - fifty percent plus one.
I worked for two years at the School of Medicine of Hebrew
University in Jerusalem. One of the doctoral students, very left
wing, used to speak of democracy as if it was a deity. And that is
exactly the problem. Democracy, as I understand it, is supposed to
serve the people. It is a tool to be utilized for the good of the
people. It is a means to an end - the end being public welfare,
public well-being. Unfortunately democracy has been converted,
and in my opinion convoluted. It is no longer a means to an end. It
is rather, the end itself. It is the goal - and it has been
transformed into a deity - it is supreme. It makes no difference if
the resulting consequences are positive or negative for the people -
what is important is preservation of democracy, at all costs. And of
course we have seen the results of democracy in action - in pre-World
War Two Germany, when Adolph Hitler used democracy as a tool to reach
his aims.
Majority is the mechanism used to implement democracy. If
anything over fifty percent of the population decides, the decision
is binding - unless the society decides otherwise - i.e., a `two-
thirds majority'.
So then, if Israeli society decides, by majority decision, in
the Knesset or in election for the Knesset, all is decided. Or is it?
In the last elections, who received the most votes? Israeli's vote
for `lists', not people. (In the upcoming elections we will
incorporate, for the first time, direct election of the Prime
Minister.) A `list', in order to enter the Knesset, needs to receive
a minimum amount of votes. The votes or a `list' that doesn't reach
the minimum are discarded. In the last elections `right-wing'
parties received over 50% of the vote - to be exact, right-wing and
religious parties (remember, Rav Ovadya Yosef's Shas party campaigned
on a `Likud-government platform') received 1,273,557 votes. The left
received 1,157,177 Jewish votes. That is a difference of 116,080.
But parties such as Techiya, which received 31,957 votes but didn't
reach the minimum threshold of 39,227, weren't included in the final
results. The Labor, Meretz and the Arab parties (103,334 votes)
received 1,260,511. The right, without Techiya and two other smaller
parties received 1,225,041 votes. In other words, majority of the
country, (and certainly not by Jewish votes) did not vote for the
polices and platforms of the late Yitzhak Rabin or present Prime
Minister Shimon Peres. So, where is democracy and majority rule -
pure democracy? (See our gopher site next week for the exact figures
of the last election.)
What role do Arab votes play in Israeli democracy? This may be
highly debated, but in my view the answer is clear. The words of the
Israeli national anthem say: To be a free nation, in our homeland.
We, the Jewish People, in our Homeland - Israel. Only Jews can be
responsible for the Jewish people in the land of Israel - that is our
right, privilege and obligation. Anyone else who wants to live here,
freely, without discrimination, in a JEWISH country, accepting JEWISH
sovereignty and rule is welcome. But the decision-making process
must be in Jewish hands. This is the only country we have, the only
land we have. If democracy and majority rule mean that we cannot
rule ourselves then why should we be here? Israel is a JEWISH STATE.
On a final note, we are still undergoing a witch-hunt.
Enforcement of the will of the `majority' is today being
personified by Rabbi-hunts and right-wing ideologist hunts.
Scholars are being questioned like common criminals and suspects are
inflicted with interrogation methods used against terrorists. On the
other hand, more and more questions are being raised concerning what
exactly happened before-during and after the Rabin assassination.
There are many questions and very few answers, so far. How much will
be covered up and how much will see the light of day is an unknown.
But one thing is for sure: Israel is undergoing a terrific time of
crisis, a time during which the future of the country will be
decided. If the rules by which we are governed are perverted, it
will take quite a while to recover. We will, in the long run,
recover. Of that I have no doubt. But if democracy and majority
rule remain an end, and not a means to an end, it will only lead to
further deterioration. And if the age-long enemies of the Jewish
People are allowed to continue to be a part of this decision-making
process, our suffering can only be described as self-inflicted.

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