Israeli historian: “Israel” is a non-democratic state and the Palestinians are the first to be affected

Israeli historian: “Israel” is a non-democratic state and the Palestinians are the first to be affected
Israeli historian: “Israel” is a non-democratic state and the Palestinians are the first to be affected

The prominent Israeli historian, Professor Shlomo Zand, confirms that Israel is a non-democratic country, despite the presence of areas of liberalism in it, warning that the Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line are the first to be affected by the government of Netanyahu and his hard-line metaphysical partners. Thus, Zand, a lecturer at Tel Aviv University, joins a growing number of Israeli politicians and intellectuals who warn that the Netanyahu government’s crackdown on the judiciary will deepen its lack of democracy and expose it to existential threats.

In an article published by Haaretz newspaper, Zand challenges the culture and knowledge of the prime minister of the occupation. Sand recalls that Netanyahu announced, during the press conference in which he presented his economic plan on January 11, that democracy and the rule of law are related to the balance between the three authorities. And he continues, “This is what John Locke and Montesquieu said, the greatest philosophers of modern democracy.”

Had Netanyahu bothered to read the sources, he would have known that these two thinkers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries can be distinguished by quite a few political definitions. But it certainly cannot be said that they were democrats. If the prime minister had read their texts, he would have found that they did not think for a moment that the mass of simple subjects, who do not have anything, the decisive majority in the societies of that period, have the right to determine who will be their master. It was necessary to wait for Jean-Jacques Rousseau and the radicals after him in the French Revolution in order for this democratic principle to begin to work, to shake and shake modern history.”

Sand says that he would not have stopped at Netanyahu’s historical ignorance if the issue of democracy had been clear to all those who bore its name in public, and swore over and over again that they were loyal democrats. Sand adds: “First, both Locke and Montesquieu have been rightly labeled ‘liberals’ in the scholarly literature. Both of them, to one degree or another, provided an original theoretical expression for the rise of new socio-economic elites, who worked and fought for the reduction of the absolute status of property and the elimination of the total domination of the nobility. In fact, we can see in the blessed revolution of 1688 in England the beginning of the emergence of political liberalism (not democracy) already, this is a renewal in history.

According to the Israeli historian Zand, it should be added that in the year 1893, when democrats first reached the centers of French power, that is, those who demanded the application of the principle of “one man, one vote” (until that time it was not “one woman, one vote”). ”) They were not quite liberal in their temper. He points out that the separation of powers, the restriction of the powers of the master, or the principle of political pluralism, were far from their hearts. Actually, another hundred years passed until it crystallized in the industrialized Western countries, in which the regimes mixed liberalism with democracy (of course for men only), among other things, in the wake of its pressure and the increase in electoral votes for the movements of the new working class.

XX century
In the twentieth century, stage after stage, almost all political elites considered themselves democratic, since in the end all elites exist, but only to serve those they faithfully represent. He points out that the Bolsheviks considered themselves genuine democrats; Because they applied the principle of universal and direct elections to the Soviets. On this, the Israeli historian adds: “Benito Mussolini considered fascism a democratic system more than parliamentary systems; Because it gave a more direct and authentic expression to the public in the streets. Also, the communist countries of Eastern Europe after World War II were considered, as is well known, to be people’s democracies.” Sand also points out that the revolutions in China and Vietnam, and in most countries in the postcolonial world, saw themselves as genuine democracies.

A clear contradiction between Judaism and democracy
The Israeli historian Moshe Zand wonders; Is it true that there is a liberal democracy in Israel? On this, he says that in what is known as the “Declaration of Independence” in 1948, the state was considered “Jewish,” although the concept of “Hebrew people” appears in it when it is called Israel. Sand, who has published a series of books in which he asserts that Zionism invented the “Jewish people” and invented the “Whole Land of Israel,” continues in his denial of Israel’s claims of democracy by saying: “Because the definition of “Jewish,” which is not the same as “Hebrew” or “Israel,” does not It is considered a comprehensive, open and flexible cultural definition within which citizens who do not consider themselves Jews can also be included. Rather, it is a rigid and exclusionary identification of ethnic-religious affiliation. The discrimination is built into Israel’s self-definition, and the term “Jewish democracy” is a clear contradiction.


To prove his denial of the democratic character of Israel, Zand also says that the United States would not have been considered a democracy if it saw itself as a country of people of Protestant origin. He also says that we would not consider Britain a democracy if it ignored the Welsh and Scots and said it belonged only to the English people. And he goes on with international examples: “Yes, we would not have considered France a republic if it had considered itself the state of the people of Gaelic-Catholic origin.”


Democracy is the state of all its citizens
The Israeli researcher confirms that democracy, by definition, means that it is a state of all its citizens, that does not take into account the principle of multiplicity of ethnic origin, no matter how imagined it may be to such an extent or that, and of course considers its ultimate goal to serve with complete equality all those subject to it, in order for them to identify with it and assign themselves. And they willingly, not just coerced, respect its laws. This is how non-conflicting governance is achieved in liberal democratic countries. And Zand continues in his criticism of Israel: “Given that Israel declared a “Jewish democracy,” we should not be surprised that a few months after the declaration of independence, military rule was imposed on its Arab citizens, which severely restricted their freedom of movement and citizenship rights. This anti-democratic and anti-liberal rule lasted until 1966, that is, during the period of David Ben-Gurion’s presidency of Mapai. It was also the first prime minister who led, along with the religious lists, and contrary to his categorical position on his opponent, Menachem Begin, the hardline opposition to drafting a constitution in Israel.

A shaky democracy for a country that was not for all its citizens, but for its Jews and the Jews of the world, most of whom refuse, with strange stubbornness, to immigrate to it and live in it.

Stalin supported Israel more than Truman
He says that Ben-Gurion, as the founder of the Hebrew state, did not take into account political liberalism in particular, and if he could, he would have outlawed the Herut movement and the Israeli Communist Party, but he understood very early, not like Moshe Sneh and Meir Yaari, for example, that he Although it was Joseph Stalin who supported much more than US President Harry Truman the establishment and arming of a Jewish state, the future of the state will be very much related to the future view of American liberal Judaism towards it. Hence, among other things, says Sand, the choice to define it “Jewish” rather than “Hebrew” or “Israeli.” From here, too, came the shaky democratic establishment of a state that was not rightfully for all its citizens for nearly 75 years, but for its Jews and the Jews of the world (most of whom, with strange stubbornness, refuse to immigrate to it and live in it).

Liberal ethno-state
The Israeli historian believes that even if there was no real democracy in Israel on any given day, and the National Law of 2018 reaffirmed this explicitly, although religion was not separated from the state on any day, and a Jew cannot marry a woman there. Non-Jewish, however, can be considered, after much hesitation, an “ethnic liberal state.” On that, he adds: “It really began, after a certain period of time after Ben-Gurion’s departure, to develop and consolidate a cautious, but steadfast liberalism. Since the end of the seventies, and despite the occupation of the “territories” (the occupied West Bank) and the formation of a new non-democratic sphere of control, especially in the nineties, mainly due to the change of government, the principles of liberalism such as the separation of powers and political pluralism advanced (in the sixties they prohibited the “land” movement “Election Rivalry) and the like. He also believes that the judicial authority was strengthened in Israel towards the end of the previous century, and a number of basic laws firmly established the basic rights of the citizen, and these included to a certain degree also the Arab public in Israel.

corrupt government
He explains that the rise of an extremist, nationalist and tyrannical religious right to power, at the end of 2022, is a right mired in an alliance with a political elite, quite a few of whose members are threatened by a violation of bribery and fraud, which immediately dragged behind it a large number of clearly illiberal proposals and measures. He notes that the center and left camps in Israel are not careful when they claim that Netanyahu’s new government intends to abolish or curtail “Jewish democracy.” And he continues, “All of them, left and right alike, are still clinging to it with blind firmness. However, if the right wing aligned with Menachem Begin’s liberal stream contributed to a significant amount in strengthening Israeli liberalism, the right wing alliance affiliated with Netanyahu’s stream explicitly intends, with its first steps, to reduce the relative independence of the judiciary system in Israel. The new government, he says, began its work with an all-out overthrow of the separation of powers, an important liberal principle, which, as is well known, was glorified by Montesquieu by the absolute subjugation of the Supreme Court to the whims of the elected system of political power. And he continues: “In a country that does not have a constitution like Israel, the talk is about an entrance to deterioration, that would turn it into what Victor Orban prepared for Hungary, ten years ago, and what Jair Bolisnaro began to implement in Brazil, and he did not have enough time to complete it.”

Increased hostility to the Palestinians inside
And the Israeli historian Professor Moshe Sand concludes by saying that it is doubtful if the new populist regime in Israel will be satisfied with that. He notes that after the reduction of legal liberalism, as it seems, there will also come a severe hardening of the Arab public in Israel, as well as an increase in the oppression of the population in the West Bank. He adds, “A number of the new government’s ministers also live outside the borders of Israel, whether in Hebron, Kedumim or Rimonim. Of course, this is not a sufficient reason to finally annex the West Bank to Israel, as the world may, God forbid, be amazed at the apparent apartheid, but certainly here there is a good opportunity for Israel to annex it, and thus shrink even more the diminishing Israeli liberalism.



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