IF I AM NOT FOR MYSELF

by Boris Shusteff

A majority of Israeli political observers as well as politicians themselves demonstrate surprising agreement about the fact that the upcoming Knesset elections will be some of the most important in Israel's history. A poll, conducted on December 18 by the Israeli daily Maariv, clearly indicated that the overwhelming majority of citizens are yearning for change. In answering the question "Do you trust the political system in Israel?" 69% of those surveyed answered "NO."

At the same time, all the surveys also clearly indicate that Israelis are hastily avoiding any opportunity to change the system. Otherwise it is impossible to explain why they so persistently cling to the same old parties, which are the stalwarts of this system.

It is especially strange since the Likud candidates list clearly shows that the apparatus will not be easy to defeat. The example of Moshe Feiglin's "demise" must be written into all the history books, into a chapter about the iron steadfastness of bureaucracy. After first being pushed to 41st place on the Likud's list, and then being completely disqualified (while Likud bigwigs remained totally silent), Feiglin's bravado is only a feeble attempt to put a good face on the utterly disappointing results of fighting the system from the inside. His idea of grafting a twig of Judaism onto the tree of a major Israeli party, with the goal of inducing it to blossom with Jewish values, will always be doomed. Because the Likud has plenty of other "gardeners" who will not think twice before cutting off the graft along with all its neighboring green twigs, at the first opportunity they get to facilitate their progress towards the summit.

Certainly, Feiglin's approach has a lot of merit. He is absolutely correct in his assessment that the path to attaining a leading position in Israel can only be by way of a major party. However, it does not necessarily mean that this party must already exist. It is enough to note the shrinking of the Labor party to recognize that a major party can quickly turn into a minor one and perhaps even completely disappear. The opposite is also possible - a small party can rapidly grow into a large one. We may take note of the growth of Shinui, which developed practically out of nothing. Devoid of any decent ideas, Shinui contents itself with Tommy Lapid's demagoguery while the party apparatus encourages religious-secular enmity. Today, polls predict that it will become the third largest party in the Knesset. The horror of the situation is only underscored by the fact that many Israelis view it as the party which is least corrupt and has the most integrity.

We will not spend much time on the fact that the growth of Shinui's popularity is, in itself, a tragedy of major proportions. If large numbers of people in a Jewish state gather to rally under the banner of a party whose platform rests on negating Judaism, then what kind of a Jewish state can we even talk about? In some way, this is understandable, since the roots of the political system in Israel are very remote from anything truly Jewish. As one participant in a message forum at the www.judea.ru Israeli internet site brilliantly noted, "if it is mutually recognized that the state laws are Anglo-Turkish, then by definition the state is Anglo-Turkish as well, but in no way is it a Jewish one."

Therefore all of Feiglin's attempts to convert the parties of the Anglo-Turkish system into Jewish parties are useless. As a married person he is undoubtedly aware that attempts by one spouse to completely change the character of the other are absolutely fruitless. The naive newlyweds who believe that this is possible inevitably end in a divorce. Instead of trying to rekindling a Jewish soul within a corrupt Likud, Feiglin would make much more progress toward his goal if, as the leader of a Jewish party he would lead those who still cherish their Jewishness out of the Likud (for example, Yamin Yisrael has on many occasions invited him to its helm).

The fact that Israelis are nostalgic about a truly Jewish political party can be reasonably inferred from the results of a study recently conducted by Dr. Ami Pedatzur and Dafna Kanti, and which appeared in issue 20 of "Panim: Faces of Art and Culture in Israel," a periodical published by the Israeli Teacher's Union. The study examined a broad cross-section of Israeli Jews. It revealed that 20% would consider voting for the Kach party, once founded by Meir Kahane, if it were permitted to run in the elections.

Nadav Shragai, who unveils these results to the general public on the pages of the Israeli daily Ha'aretz, stresses in his article that these high levels of hypothetical support for Kach were found among voters for the established political parties. He writes, "The following represents the percentages of Israelis who last voted for other parties who would vote for a Kahanistic list if they were able to: One Israel - 3; Likud -33; Shas - 52; Shinui - 15; NRP - 24; Yisrael Beitenu - 50, National Union - 50, United Torah Judaism - 24." Especially interesting is the fact that the researchers found, that, while the studies from the mid-1980s indicated that most support for Kach came from settlers and residents of development towns, 15 years later, support by these two sectors has declined in comparison with the support of the ideology among immigrants from the former Soviet Union, as well as in the Haredi public.


One does not have to be a great mathematician to see that in this hypothetical election, the Kach party would gain the biggest number of Knesset mandates, and its leader would become the head of the Jewish state. And while it is true that Kach is not running in the elections, and Michael Kleiner lacks Kahane's charisma, nevertheless he did not shy away from offering the second spot on the combined Herut-Yamin Yisrael list to Baruch Marzel - a person who was very close to Meir Kahane, and who is not afraid of his ideas.

Of course, walking on the edge of legality, and trying not to overstep the boundaries drawn by the current Israeli political system, Marzel, as proof of his loyalty to the system, constantly repeats that he left the Kach party 20 seconds after it was banned. He will be forced to repeat this statement as long as the current system stays intact. And the only way to overcome the system, is by means of a political party that can bring about this change.

This can be done only by an ideologically-based party. The only such party on the Israeli political scene is the combined Herut-Yamin Yisrael party. No other Israeli party has even come close to having anything resembling the comprehensive political program developed by Professor Paul Eidelberg of Yamin Yisrael. It is enough to mention just two elements of this program to realize that it is light years closer to the Jewish state that was intended in 1948 than today's Israeli-Anglo-Turkish hybrid.

Article 29 of the 1948 Proposed Constitution for the State of Israel envisioned that,

The Chamber of Deputies [today's Knesset] shall be elected by equal, direct and universal suffrage and by secret ballot on the basis of proportional representation... The country shall be divided into a number of electoral districts, each 10,000 of the population approximately to be represented by one deputy.

Paul Eidelberg takes exactly the same approach, proposing to "divide the country into 48-60 electoral districts," thus introducing in Israel an electoral system based on "Personalized Proportional Representation".

Let us take another Article from the 1948 Proposed Constitution. Article 77 declares that "future legislation in Israel shall be guided by the basic principles of Jewish Law." Professor Eidelberg advocates an identical policy, writing,

Consistent with the Foundations of Law Act of 1980, and as stated by Professor Menachem Elon, former Deputy President of the Supreme Court, Jewish Law should be "primus inter pares" (first among equals) vis-a-vis English and American law in Israeli jurisprudence. Jewish law should also be used to make public officials accountable to the people.

In order to transform Israel from an Israeli-Anglo-Turkish state into a Jewish one, the State's laws must be based on Jewish Laws. As Eidelberg wrote, "The rule of law is a basic principle of Torah Judaism and of classical democracy. The rule of law affirms that those who make the laws are obliged to obey the laws." Alas, Israel's judicial system today demonstrates that it is based not on the rule of law, but on the rule of men in power.

Since the Torah forbids us to rely on miracles, the Jews must create a miracle for themselves. If they are hypothetically ready to vote for a Kahanist party that is not even in the running, they must use their votes to bring to power a party that will work to change the system. What is more, they must rid themselves of the "it cannot happen" syndrome. Certainly the socialist-minded Israeli press will always do whatever it can in order to preserve the existing political system. Therefore, it will conduct its polls in such a way as to not even mention those parties that are dangerous to the system among the contenders for Knesset seats.

It is worth remembering that Kahane was elected to the Knesset in spite of the fact that all official polls predicted that his party would not get a single mandate. At that time so-called "travelling polls" by major Israeli newspapers predicted that he would receive 10-12% of votes. Similar polls today forecast that the Herut-Yamin Yisrael list will receive up to 5 seats in the Knesset.

The research of Pedatzur and Kanti strongly suggests that we can expect the arrival of a Knesset party that will be ready to lead the battle with the current Israeli political system. However, if Jews entering the polling booths do not vote with their conscience, and if they do not trust in their strength, they will have no one but themselves to blame for their failure.

12/26/02

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Boris Shusteff is an engineer. He is also a research associate with the Freeman Center for Strategic Studies.



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