GOLAN HEIGHTS 7th FULL PAGE AD
1. The following is the 7th Full-Page Ad, published by the Ariel Center For Policy Research, in Ha'aretz. The Ads have been also disseminated - via mailers, seminars, door-to-door distribution, etc. - throughout the country by various organizations. The key target audience for the Ads consist of Barak voters (Center and Left of Center). Recent polls indicate that some 20% of Barak voters oppose the Golan Giveaway! A typical feedback - by the Center and the Left - to the Ads has been: "We didn't know that the Right can think and articulate...?!"
2. The Full-Page-Ad Campaign is the most cost-effective and time-efficient, when it comes to reaching the entire electorate in a short time!
3. The Ads are non-political(!), providing the readers with research-based data, which is required in order to make an intelligent decision on the fate of the Golan Heights. Previous Ads discussed The Indefensibility of the 1967/1949 Lines, the Irreplaceability of the Golan Heights by Sophisticated Technology and Military Systems, the Track Record Of Assad as A Serial Violator of Agreements, the "Peace Strategy" of Assad and The Real vs. The New Mideast.
4. Contributions toward these ads may be made through the tax deductible Freeman Center and will be transferred to the Ariel Center which is an approved educational institution.
The Golan Heights and the Facts
Is a Special Majority in the Knesset and in a Referendum A Democratic Procedure?
How Does the U.S. Constitution View a Special Majority?
- Article 5: A ratification of an amendment to the Constitution requires a majority of two-thirds in the House of Representatives, two-thirds in the Senate, and an ordinary majority in both legislative houses of three-fourths of the 50 states (38 out of 50!).
- Article 2: A ratification of international agreements, signed by the president, requires a two-thirds majority in the Senate (67 out of 100!). For example, on October 13, 1999 the Senate rejected the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, despite President Clinton's support of the treaty.
- Article 1: To override a presidential veto, on any proposed law, a majority of two-thirds is required in the House and two-thirds in the Senate. To impeach a president, cabinet secretary, judge, or legislator a two-thirds majority is required in the Senate.
- Article 4: A territorial change in any state of the United States requires a "double majority": in the Senate as well as in the legislative houses of the state in question.
In addition, Rule 20 of Congressional procedures stipulates that a 60% majority of the Senate is required for initiating a discussion on any controversial bill! Lack of such a 60% majority (Cloture) enables any senator to "kill" the bill with a Filibuster.
How Does Canada View a Special Majority?
Canada's Supreme Court ruled in August 1998 that a referendum requires a special majority: "Democracy is more than an ordinary majority"! The Court added that the question presented to the public must be clear, unambiguous about the critical issues in question, neither misleading nor vague. According to Prof. Irwin Cotler, member of Canada's Parliament and internationally known human rights activist, the Canadian Parliament is currently legislating an amendment to the Canadian Constitution in this vein, aimed at ensuring that a referendum does not cause a societal schism. In Cotler's opinion, an unambiguous question on the Golan issue would be: "Are you in favor of a peace agreement with Syria that entails giving up the entire Golan Heights?" On the other hand, Cotler claims that a misleading statement that obfuscates a crucial fact (withdrawal from the Golan) would be: "Are you in favor of a peace agreement with Syria?"
("From Today to Tomorrow," TV # 1, December 28, 1999).According to Article 38 of the Canadian Constitution (1982), any amendment to the Constitution (including territorial changes in any of the ten provinces that form Canada) requires a "double majority": the approval of the two national legislative houses as well as of two-thirds of the legislatures of the provinces that form the majority of the Canadian population.
Does a Special Majority Compromise Democracy?
Professor Vernon Bogdanor, international expert on referenda at Oxford University, in a discussion in Jerusalem: "A danger exists when a special majority is not required for referenda." He indicated that an example from French history illustrates this point (Referenda in Israel, Israeli Institute for Democracy, 1993, p. 66). In 1946 the Constitution of the Fourth Republic was approved by a majority of 53% to 47%; this meant that only 36% of the eligible electorate voted in favor, 33% against, and 31% abstained. This narrow margin caused a sustained crisis and brought the country to the verge of civil war in 1958. According to the late Professor Daniel Elazar, who was an expert on Western constitutions and head of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, referenda are based "almost everywhere on a special majority . . . in all of the countries -- even the most homogeneous, and with no relevance to racism -- it is customary to require a larger majority than is required for ordinary legislation when a change in the constitutional framework is involved"
(Referenda: What Can Israel Learn from the Experience of Other Countries?, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 1995, pp. 36-39).
Does a Special Majority Compromise Minority Rights?
A vote on an ordinary change requires an ordinary majority. But a vote on an irreversible change, a dramatic change in the status quo, a fateful and fundamental change, a change in basic values that deeply affects the security, territorial, and constitutional future of a democratic state, requires a special majority! A special majority helps maintain a system of checks and balances, constitutes a containment mechanism ( checking the Executive) and an instrument safeguarding (for the benefit of the minority) against hasty legislation that is enacted by a slim, tenuous, or fortuitous majority. The mood of voters is transient, sometimes in a volatile manner. A slim majority today may become a large minority tomorrow. Yet the outcome of the vote and the referendum (on the Golan Heights) is irreversible! A special majority reflects broad agreement and an in-depth examination. It neutralizes the influence of extreme or volatile groups, reduces the danger of a schism in the nation, and affords an advantage to logic over emotion.
An ordinary majority enables cynical exploitation of the government's resources (appointments, personal vehicles, and other perks to political marriages of convenience) and of transient moods, such as: exasperation (over a terrorist attack), euphoria (over the signing of an agreement), or temporary depression, to determine an issue that is irreversible and of crucial, long-term significance.
Does a Change in the Status of the Golan Heights Call for a Special Majority?
The application of Israeli sovereignty to the Golan was enacted -- according to a ruling of the Supreme Court (205/82, 1982) -- by the Golan Heights Law (1981), which extended Israeli law, jurisdiction, and administration to the Golan Heights.
According to the Law of Governmental and Legal Procedures of 1999 any change in the status of the Golan requires three steps: a Cabinet decision, Knesset ratification, and approval in a referendum. The future of the Golan is a unique, fateful, and an irreversible issue that involves a drastic change in Israel's borders and sovereignty. It requires international treaties, causing a shock to the idea of Zionist settlement, and triggering a public controversy that is likely to cause a schism in the nation. The democratic tradition of the United States, Canada, and other democracies clearly indicates that the future of the Golan Heights requires a special majority both in the Knesset vote and in a referendum.
Full-Page Ad published by The Ariel Center For Policy Research (ACPR) in Ha'aretz daily