גיורא איילנד
Giora Eiland
Photo: Motti Kimchi
MKs Dudi Amsalem and Bezalel Smotrich during meeting of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice committee

Israel's elected officials put party politics over public interest

Opinion: When legislators say publicly their votes in parliament only aim to embarrass the opposing political camp, thereby ignoring public needs, they are violating the social contract that lies at the basis of any democracy

Giora Eiland |
Published: 06.01.22, 23:57
For 250 years, most democratic countries have been utilizing the concept of a "social contract," the 18th century term that defines the legitimacy of the state's authority over the individual.
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  • In fact, that authority must stem from the understanding that in order to ensure security over body and property of private citizens, the public must forgo some personal freedoms and enable the sovereign government to manage state affairs, enact legislations and impose a legal system based on said laws.
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    דודי אמסלם ובצלאל סמוטריץ
    דודי אמסלם ובצלאל סמוטריץ
    MKs Dudi Amsalem and Bezalel Smotrich during meeting of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice committee
    (Photo: Yoav Dudkevitch)
    At the same time, the ruling authority is bound by the contract to act in the interest of the country and its public.
    But we, as citizens, have inadvertently accepted the situation whereby our elected leaders are openly acting in opposition to the social contract with us.
    There can certainly be opposing views about proposed legislation and on the actions of the government, but if a member of Knesset says publicly that his or her vote on a given issue is meant solely to embarrass the opposing political camp, he or she are undermining the foundations of the state's functioning.
    It is true that the opposition believes it would be in the benefit of Israel had it been in power instead of the current government.
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    נתניהו בהצהרה לתקשורת
    נתניהו בהצהרה לתקשורת
    Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu
    (Photo: Amit Shabi)
    But what has any of that to do with a bill to protect victims of domestic abuse, disabled people or veterans of the IDF?
    As a result, we have become accustomed to the perversions of politics, with legislators choosing to oppose necessary and important bill proposals due to interests of their political party.
    Another disturbing aspect of politics is the confusion that has been created in the public's mind about the distinction between the importance of the position and the individual filling it. Too often, politicians project the importance of the post they hold onto themselves. They assume that the good of the country dictates that they alone remain in positions of power.
    When their role in parliament or in the government conflicts with their values, they do not choose to resign from politics, believing perhaps that the county will not survive in their absence.
    "But the military is the same," one woman once said to me when I spoke of this matter in a lecture. She was mistaken.
    3 View gallery
    מליאת הכנסת
    מליאת הכנסת
    Former coalition whip MK Idit Silman who quit government and sided with the opposition
    (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)
    Even though there is no shortage of IDF officers who are enamored by their own personalities and actions, the military structure is strong enough to withstand overly narcissistic behavior.
    I commanded over a battalion during the First Lebanon War and in the two years that followed. It was an important position where any mistake could cost an unnecessary loss of life and foil entire operations. The job was important. I was not.
    A good organization is one that is stronger than its members and sometimes even its leader. According to this index, it appears the Knesset is not one of those organizations. To quote Clint Eastwood, “Take your work seriously, but don't take yourself seriously.”

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