1. The Foundation's goal is to foster Constitutional Democracy in Israel.
a. Constitutional democracy would make Israel more independent.
b. Constitutional democracy would ease the Arab demographic problem.
2. Constitutional Democracy in Israel would provide Islamic modernists with a model for injecting a modicum of democracy in Arab regimes.
3. The Constitution proposed by the Foundation should be understood, initially, as an educational device, rather than as a program.
a. The Foundation's constitutional method of analyzing Israel's major problems has attracted a great deal of interest and support from academics, lawyers, and rabbis. This approach offers a more comprehensive and integrated way of understanding Israel's institutional, religious, demographic, and political as well as leadership and policy-forming problems.The constitutional approach also enables us to think constructively, to offer people a positive and noble goal.
b. Israel has become hypnotized and paralyzed by the "peace process." Criticism of the "peace process," however correct, has become sterile. A constitutional approach clarifies old insights and offers new ones. Consider the policy of "territory for peace."
4. This policy may be examined in various ways:
a. The logic of "territory for peace" is suicidal, because it means that whenever Arabs threaten war, Israel must surrender more territory.
b. The empirical results of this policy are set forth in Congressman Saxon's "Task Force Report on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare," which shows that Olso has so weakened Israel that Arab-Islamic states now see an opportunity to destroy the country and are arming for that purpose.
5. This being so, why have both Labor and Likud governments pursued the suicidal policy of "territory for peace"? There are two basic ways of answering this question:
a. External factors: American pressure
b. Internal factors, involving three flaws in Israel:
(1) The decline of Zionist idealism or lack of authentic Jewish leadership
(2) The Labor Party's dependence on the Arab vote since 1977, when Labor lost the support of the religious parties. Thus, prior to the 1992 elections, Labor spokesmen made a deal with Arafat. Arafat would persuade Israel's Arab citizens and parties to support Labor, in return for which a new Labor Government would engage in "territory for peace" negotiations which would eventually lead to a Palestinian state with Arafat as its president. In other words, Labor's policy of "territory for peace" was a means of regaining power. This explanation is confirmed by many facts, but only one need be mentioned. Thus, in 1991, the Labor Party voted against restricting MK Hashim Mahameed's travel privileges for three months after he went to Gaza and incited the Arabs to "fight the conquerors with all the means you have." (In truth, almost every political party tries to get some Arab votes.)
(3) The flaws in Israel's political institutions
6. How Israeli politicians react to American pressure depends not only on their own moral and intellectual character but also on the character of Israel's political institutions, a factor ignored by virtually all commentators.
a. Israel's Government, i.e., the Cabinet, is composed of a multiplicity of parties. Mr. Netanyahu's Cabinet consists of no less than seven parties, each with its own agenda! This makes it virtually impossible for Israel's Prime Minister to pursue a coherent and resolute foreign policy or national strategy conducive to his country's long-term interests. Meanwhile, the lack of Cabinet solidarity renders the Government more subject to international pressure.
b. The multiplicity of parties in Israel is the result of proportional representation with a threshold of only 1.5 percent. This is by far the lowest electoral threshold among some fifty countries using proportional representation.
c. Also, Israel is the only reputed democracy that employs proportional representation with fixed party lists and without constituency or direct elections. This has grave consequences.
(1) Assume that the leader of party A is Israel's Prime Minister, and that the leaders of parties, B, C, D and E are his Cabinet Ministers. Because a majority of the Knesset's members (MKs) owe their position and perquisites to these parties and not to the votes of constituents, they cannot function as judges of their Government's policies as do legislators in all democratic countries. If an MK were to vote against his Government he would be committing political suicide. This will prevent him from resisting policies he deems unwise or self-destructive. He will then be less able to resist the same foreign pressure prompting his Government to pursue that questionable policy. Meanwhile, because the voters have no individual Knesset Member accountable to them, whom they could then expect to uphold their basic interests -- which may well be opposed to the Government's foreign policy -- they themselves, the voters, will become unduly sensitive and more subservient to "world opinion."
(2) Therein is a hitherto unnoticed reason why Israeli governments -- no longer in the youth of Zionism -- have yielded to the American State Department's post-Six Day War policy of "territory for peace," contrary to the deepest convictions of a large majority of Israel's Jewish population. If this majority's convictions on the territorial issue have since been eroded, a basic cause is this: they lack Knesset representatives of their own choosing.
d. Although Israel may be a unique case, nothing so weakens this country as the absence of a Legislature separate from the Executive, one whose members are directly accountable to the voters, and not simply to their party. (It is well known in various countries that an electoral system with fixed party lists deters men of high caliber from entering government. Fixed party lists makes parties havens for job-seekers and apparatchiks.)
7. Direct or constituency elections (using the Single Transfer Vote system to avoid gerrymandering) will raise the quality of the Knesset and make it stronger vis-à-vis the Government. But this means that Jewish public opinion will have more influence on the policies of the Government via the Knesset.
a. A large Jewish majority opposed the policy of "territory for peace" before the 1992 elections, and it was that majority that elected Netanyahu in 1996.
b. Polls indicate that a majority oppose Arab membership in the Knesset. Clearly this majority would support Michael Kleiner's proposal that the Prime Minister be Jewish. Yet the Knesset wouldn't even consider that proposal. This is further proof that the Knesset does not represents Jewish public opinion. Hence, if Israel had direct elections, where an MK depends more on the votes of constituents than on his party, the Knesset would be more disposed to consider Kleiner's proposal as well as others that would limit the political power of Arabs. (There are diverse systems of district elections, some better than others. The Foundation inclines to the multimember, preferential Single Transfer Vote System.)
8. Israel needs a Constitutional Party. The party should advocate, in the next election campaign, the general idea of a Constitution as a means of obtaining a truly Jewish State; but the party should campaign as follows:
a. Adopt two campaign slogans: JUSTICE and HONESTY. Arab terrorists and murderers will not be released from prison to kill more Jews. Corruption in Government will be eliminated by Knesset watchdog committees and by serious attention to the State Comptroller's reports.
b. Establish five policy committees: Defense, Foreign Affairs, Economics, Education, and Justice. Appoint experts to head these committees and to draft appropriate policy papers, linking them to Jewish concepts. Inform the voters that these experts will be cabinet ministers if the party receives approximately 250,000 votes. Announce a "Contract Israel" stating that, unlike other parties, this new party will not violate its campaign pledges. (A properly designed "recall" procedures might serve this purpose.)
c. Advocate (and explain) direct elections with a threshold of at least 5 percent.
d. Call for enforcing the law which excludes anti-democratic parties as well as Arab parties that pursue Arab nationalist goals contrary to the raison d'etre of Israel as a Jewish State.
e. Advocate the elimination of "administrative detention" as undemocratic.
f. Propose the eventual adoption of a written Constitution based on Jewish principles and values.
For an elaboration of these ideas, contact the Foundation for Constitutional Democracy (Prof.
Paul Eidelberg, Director), 244 Madison Avenue, Suite 427, New York, NY 10016 or
The Freeman Center supports the important work of Prof. Eidelberg and urges you do also.