Israel’s sad slide from democracy | The Jewish Chronicle

Posted on August 27, 2010


Israelis rightly take pride in the existence of the Knesset but they now need to take action to restore its reputation

…The rules of democracy are crumbling.

The Knesset is passing more anti-democratic laws than ever before — targeting the Arab minority; predicating basic civil rights on declarations of loyalty to Israel as a Jewish state; and limiting the ability of citizens to protest against government policies.

McCarthy-style parliamentary committee hearings on academic freedoms have led to panic-driven responses by Israeli universities. Harassment of human rights organisations is now a commonplace in the Knesset, where one black day for democracy seems to follow on the heels of another. The Israeli parliament is no longer an arena in which the struggle for human rights can be advanced; rather, it is a place where democracy itself has become a punch-bag, and defenders of human rights are fighting to hold the defensive line. The rot set in some time between Operation Cast Lead and the openly racist election campaign that followed.

…When the supposed stronghold of democracy abuses its role, this is not a matter to be confined within its own sphere. It is the business of all citizens. Israelis who despair as their elected officials pull the democratic rug from under their feet should fight to protect and strengthen the basis of democracy that still exists and to create a space for democracy where it is lacking.

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