Published by The Freeman Center
The Maccabean Online
Political Analysis and Commentary
The Rule of Ignorance and the Rule of Mendacity*
Prof. Paul Eidelberg
I never cease to be astonished by the political ignorance of honest Israelis. Year after year they have witnessed the corruption that results from their parliamentary electoral system, which enables Knesset members, and therefore those who become prime ministers and cabinet ministers, to ignore Jewish public opinion and convictions between elections—and do so with impunity.
Polls repeatedly reveal that as much 90 percent of the public regards the Knesset—but therefore the government as a whole—as corrupt, as consisting primarily of mere job seekers, of individuals more concerned about their personal and partisan interests than the national interest. Yet one seldom reads a journalist or even a political scientist who points out that voting for fixed party slates instead of individual candidates is a primary cause of such corruption, and that this corruption is magnified by the multi-party cabinet governments resulting from Proportional Representation.
Was it not crystal clear in the 1999 Knesset election campaign when 29 Knesset Members hopped over to rival parties to improve their electoral positions that something was rotten in the State of Israel? Was it not obvious that something was dangerously wrong—that treason was abroad in the land—when Prime Minister Ehud Barak, in 1999, offered Yasser Arafat 95 percent ofJudea and Samaria including eastern Jerusalem and the Temple Mount without having even consulted his cabinet?
Was it not obvious that wholesale treachery had taken over the so-called democratic State of Israelwhen its Prime Minister, Likud leader Ariel Sharon, adopted the Labor Party's defeatist policy of unilateral disengagement in December 2003, less than a year after he and his Likud Party had campaigned against that very policy in the January 2003 Knesset elections? And this party, praised by one political genius as the "trunk of the nation," remains in power!
Have you ever heard of a democracy in which a party that never participated in an election gains control of the government, as Kadima did when Sharon betrayed the country by forming that party of political hacks and opportunists?
I am astonished by the political ignorance that prevails even among the best and the brightest inIsrael. But is it mere ignorance?.
Religious Jews in Israel know that at least 75 to 80 percent of Israel’s Jewish population identifies with the Jewish heritage, that 25 percent are orthodox while another 50 to 55 percent are traditional. Given this data, should it not be obvious that one way to make Israel more Jewish is to design a parliamentary electoral system that will increase the influence of these voters on those who make the laws and policies of the State? Should it not be obvious, therefore, that to increase the influence of these Jews, all that need be done is to make Knesset Membersindividually elected by and accountable to the voters in regional elections?
Consider. Shimon Peres, who went abroad to undermine the Begin Government during the Lebanese War in 1982, and who illicitly negotiated the disastrous Oslo Agreement in 1993. Mr. Peres was a Knesset member for half a century without ever having had to compete against a rival candidate in a district election. Not bad for a four-year term limit. But what am I saying? The average duration of a government in Israel is barely two years. How's that for pursuing long range foreign policies—or for coping with any serious domestic policy? And with five or more rival parties at the helm, thanks to Israel's efficient system of multiparty cabinet government.
Israeli democracy compels citizens to vote for fixed party lists in a nationwide election that fragments the nation into paltry groups, no one of which has ever come close to winning a majority of the votes and forming a government. And no government in Israel, whether led by a Labor orLikud or Kadima party leader, has ever been toppled by a Knesset vote of no confidence. How's that for a parliamentary democracy?
But why haven't honest journalists exposed this mendacious form of government?
Religious Jews talk about the need for national unity, while religious parties support the existing system of Proportional Representation with a low electoral threshold which inevitably splinters the nation. We know why. PR enanbles them to win a few Knesset seats and share in the spoils of office--of course for educating religious kids.
Meanwhile this fragmented country limps from crisis to crisis and approaches closer and closer to the abyss, thanks not only to prime ministers who know next to nothing about Judaism, but also to political and judicial institutions whose very design is destructive of Judaism.
Did not Israel's current Prime Minister endorse a Palestinian state without public debate in the Knesset? Doesn't this signify that the Knesset is a mere cipher? Doesn't this mean that MKs are not accountable to the voters? Doesn't this mean that Israel is not a genuine democracy? But have you heard any political analyst speak or write of this fact? Indeed, do not the best and the brightest of these analysts persist in calling Israel a democracy?
Contrary to a political faction or religious fiction in the Likud, it is not only the lack of Jewish consciousness and Jewish pride among Israel’s ruling elites that endanger this country. No less lethal is their fear of telling the truth.
Years ago I asked a political adviser to Defense Minister Shimon Peres, "What is Israel's major problem?" He replied, "We can't lie as well as the Arabs." Lie to whom? I might have responded. Most Jews in Israel are well aware of Arab mendacity, which another Peres adviser, the late professor Yehoshafat Harkabi, discusses in his book Arab Attitudes to Israel. So to whom do Israel political leaders lie? The Americans? The Israelis?
Let's start and stop with the Israelis. They are constantly being lied to, especially by prime ministers who perpetuate to the disastrous myth of the Oslo peace process. Yes, but also by countless academics and journalists who know very well that genuine and abiding peace with the Arabs is a religious and cultural impossibility. Polls indicate that most Jews in Israel know this.
That being the case, why do they continue to vote for and tolerate the liars of Israel? If Israel is a democracy, why don't the people vote the rascals out? Why is it that regardless of which party leader or party coalition is at the helm of state, we get the same defeatist and mendacious policy of land for peace?
Evident here is a public steeped in ignorance and kept in ignorance by the ruling class and its journalistic toadies. But why have Israeli universities, why have countless professors, failed to teach students about the oligarchic and dysfunctional nature of Israeli government? Why have they kept students in ignorance? Are so many academics themselves steeped in ignorance, or are they afraid to tell the truth? Would they not incriminate themselves by telling the truth so late in the murderous game of the peace process?
Would not Mr. Netanyahu incriminate himself and his predecessors by telling the truth about the Oslo Covenant of Death? Would he not, by telling the truth about that Covenant, implicate Saint Rabin, Peres, Barak, SharonSaint Olmert and all their respective lackeys in Israel's political and military echelons?
So Ignorance and Mendacity continue to reign in Israel, ignorance and mendacity about the myth of Israeli democracy and about mythical solutions to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. And it bears repeating that this ignorance and mendacity flourish in Israel because that serves the interests of Israel's ruling class: its politicians and judges, its intellectuals and journalists.
It's time folks to put an end to this travesty. It's time, to put and end to the abysmal ignorance and monstrous mendacity that rules Israel. It's time to write to your favorite journalists and demand that they tell the truth about Israel's wretched and undemocratic system of government. You can find in my website, foundation1.org a veritable library of articles showing that Israel's system of government is best described as a democratically elected dictatorship—and I challenge anyone to debate with me on this subject in public.
So to all of you who are sick of the corruption in this government, to all of you who are oppressed by decades of lies about the "peace process," to all of you who can no longer stand the foul rhetoric that issues from the mouths of Israeli politicians, rise up and demand from journalists the truth about Israel's despicable system of government a system that retains outright liars and traitors in office.
*Edited transcript of the Eidelberg Report, Israel National Radio, October 25, 2010.