05 June 2009

Lieberman and defense of democracy

It appears that my last post on the subject caused a gamut of responses. From understanding to that other one (about that other one later). I shall try to answer some of the remarks in a general manner, without mentioning the commentators (aside of one). Apologies for the ones I missed.

To start with, an observation that comes from years of experience: most of the folks born in democratic countries put little, or not enough, value to protection of democracy from attempts to undermine it, even when they realize its merits. It takes a nose trained in the smell of a totalitarian society and in that of a democracy to be sensitive enough to these attempts.

Then we should consider the situation with democracy in Israel. While being always justly branded as the only democracy in the Middle East, we are far from being a perfect one - for security reasons, for reasons of equality (may the man who claims that minorities have already equal rights throw the first brick at me and see where it gets him/her - yes, we are going there, but ever so slowly...), for plutocracy getting too much say in internal politics lately, for abundance of corrupted politicians, for the incessant attempts to reduce the power of the High Court of Justice that is the one and the only barrier between the above mentioned politicians and some especially vicious attempts at wholesale corruption.

And have I mentioned the emergency laws yes? The ones left over by the British Mandate that allow unlimited power to the PM and his office?

All in all, while our democracy seems to be stable, there are many reasons to be sensitive. And when a politician like Lieberman gets enough power to become a significant force in our politics, all alarms should start clamoring. It didn't happen overnight, there were enough warning signs before, but we are ever so busy with our external politics, with our enemies and friends, with our petty provincial scoops* that we all have missed the advent.

All this is not (directly) related to the prospects of our future (oh well...) peace deal with our cousins. It is solely about where this tribe is going as a democracy. By the way, Lieberman and his gang are a pretty mixed bag where their views on the negotiations with out neighbors are considered. In some aspects (like his rumored support for the roadmap agreement) Lieberman could be considered to be more moderate than his PM - at least for the moment. There is even that quote from his Wiki bio: "He has said that, despite having lived there for so long, he is willing to vacate his house in a peace agreement". Who really knows?

I will not go into Lieberman's pedigree - it is well known, suffice to mention that he is far from being stupid and that some of his more scandalous shenanigans are carefully prepared in advance to create the desired effect (he has a great mentor - the incomparable Vladimir Zhirinovsky). Which makes him all the more dangerous. And the reasoning that Lieberman just plays populist games to gain popularity and doesn't really mean to pass this or another law is faulty as hell - after all, other members of parliament are not immune to populism, and there is no knowing when and how another idiotic or totalitarian proposal will pass. The history is crammed with examples of democracies ruined by voting.

The three laws I have mentioned in that other post are showing a dangerous trend. No one knows where such a trend might lead, how agile and able is the rabble we've let into the Knesset to abuse the power of lawmaking and the situation in this volatile country. No one should feel that democracy is a given.

It is not for nothing that they say "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." While the sentence may have become a truism with endless repeating, it bears remembering. As much as Lieberman bears watching and eliminating as a political factor on our scene. The paskudnyaks should be sent home. As soon as possible.

Now to a singularly obnoxious commentator that goes under a moniker "Norm Cone": buddy, if you need an explanation about what is wrong with the "pledge of allegiance to Jewish, Zionist and democratic state" idea, you may need a manual to get your head out of your backside as well. And if the day comes when I shall need your directions to packing and leaving Israel (especially directions coming from a fiery American Zionist), I'll rather call you, so don't call me, please.

(*) In yesterday's morning newspaper (Maariv) the articles on the degenerate celeb Dudu Topaz took up pages 2-6, while upcoming Cairo visit by Obama was relegated to page 7.

Cross-posted on Yourish.com