Lieberman - Rightist camp scared to realize desires?
Photo: Dudi Vaaknin

The new scapegoat

Is Israel's system of government at fault for current political ills? B. Michael doesn't think so

Part 1


Well, the real culprit at fault for the current mess has been found: "The system." Contemptible parliamentary democracy. The minuscule threshold. The sovereign's exaggerated powers. The annoying uncertainty in respect to the length and stability of the government's term in office. These are the pests that are destroying Israel's political establishment.


It's the system of government and not, heaven forbid, Israel's leadership cadre, which looks like a junkyard. It isn't about the multiyear decline in the quality of public servants. It isn't the deep, genuine, and heated schism that is ripping Israeli society apart in a way that almost cannot be mended anymore. It's apparently also not about growing atomization that has turned the State into a loose confederacy of ethnic, social, religious, and economic tribes that despise each other with great zeal and persistence.


Of course, we must also not mention the axiomatic historical decree that any occupying society – any society that crushes others – will ultimately be eroded, corrupted, and radicalized to the point of collapsing.


Oh no, all of the above have nothing to do with the mess we are facing. Only the system of government is at fault. This is the only thing that needs to be changed.


It is quite easy to explain when and how our political establishment started to falter. Until 1981, that is, until the 10th Knesset, the "system" worked quite well. It had its ups and downs, just like any other democratic system, yet nobody complained about it too much. In the 10th Knesset, the great tie started to take hold. The nation was divided, right down the middle more or less, on the question of the territories. In the middle, as expected, danced the religious parties. Their power grew as the schism deepened, and both political blocs were willing to pay an increasingly abhorrent price to keep the religious parties on their side.


This is how the terrible paralysis started. This paralysis was joined by growing nationalistic radicalization that reached its zenith with the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. It was the unavoidable product of the occupation experience and the release of the nationalistic-Orthodox genie from the bottle. The paralysis and radicalization kept growing, and with them grew the revulsion over the dysfunctional system and the decline in the quality of people who turned to politics.


The unavoidable next step was the erosion in the power of the large parties. They disappointed their voters time and again and therefore started losing votes to all sorts of odd parties. Fashionable niche parties, factions boasting ephemeral saviors, temporary parties created through shady deals, and rightist parties that increasingly sank into idolatrous and nationalistic fundamentalism.


And so, we reached the current situation. We have a rightist camp that is split into various levels of delusion and claims that it knows what it wants to do, yet is scared to death to actually realize its desires.


We also have a "Center" that is in fact no more than a slightly more polite Right. We also have some fragments of parties that make no difference. We have a political establishment that coalesced into four or five parties at various levels of mediocrity (in every sense of the word.) Their leaderships are weak, their path is blurred, they are thin on values or truly corrupt, and at times they are also exhausted and scared.


All of these parties seek no more than to survive in power for as long as possible, while doing as little as possible. Here and there we have a mini-war – that's acceptable. But not much beyond that, please.


Part 2 to be published Saturday


פרסום ראשון: 02.13.09, 15:44
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