Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Israel has a problem with democracy

(Updated December 4, 2019)

It looks like Israel has a problem with democracy. On the one hand, most of Israel's most vociferous defenders of 'democracy' in Israel--those to the political Left--talk a lot about 'democracy'. But then, in the same breath, they demand the resignation of Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu because he's under indictment for bribery, breach of trust and corruption.

Indeed, Netanyahu's main rival, Benny Gantz believes that, unless Netanyahu resigns immediately, Israel may not remain a democracy (here). If Netanyahu stays in power, Gantz argues, Israel will collapse into a Turkey-style state (ibid).

Worse, Gantz claims, if Netanyahu won't resign, Israel runs the risk of a civil-war of 'brother-against-brother' (here).

You may call these words 'Leftist drivel'. It certainly sounds like Leftist drivel. But it can't be. 

You see, Gantz doesn't call himself a Leftist. He calls himself a centrist.

Do you see the democracy problem embedded in such anti-Netanyahu behavior? Chances are, you don't--and that's the disturbing part of this problem. When it comes to the basics of 'democracy', even Israel's potential political leaders don't know what are the basics of 'democracy'.

How can such a potential leader of Israel stay true to the 'democracy' he says he cares about if he's so ignorant about 'democracy'?

What Gantz and his anti-Netanyahu cabal don't know is that when many people think about 'what is democracy?' one common thread that appears as an answer is called a key characteristic, or even a pillar of democracy. That singular pillar of democracy is, 'the presumption of innocence' (here).

 A Democracy believes in this presumption. So important is this presumption, it's been enshrined in the UN Declaration of Human Rights that all nations have been called upon to adopt (here):

Article 11.

(1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.

To some around the world, such ideas as the Rule of Law, democracy and democracy's definition of 'justice' are all focused on this presumption of innocence (here). Presumption of innocence is what makes a Western democracy a democracy. Just ask New Zealand (ibid) and the US (here), to name just two examples.

Even in difficult, troubling cases, everyone is innocent until proven guilty (here). That should suggest that even an Israeli Prime Minister is to be granted that Human Right, right?

Wrong. From what we see and hear in Israel's media and from Israel's leading politicians, an Israeli PM--or, more accurately, this Israeli PM--has no right to be presumed innocent at all. At least, that seems to be clear from politicians Gantz and Yair Lapid, and from such noted media outlets as the Times of Israel, to name just a few who, in the name of protecting Israel's democracy, call for Netanyahu to resign immediately.

Not much in life is perfect. But when it comes to the principles of democracy's ideas of justice (which is founded in part on this presumption of innocence), Israel's leading politicians are certainly perfectly ignorant. These are the people Israel votes for? To 'protect' Israel's democracy?

Israel has a real democracy problem.

Do these Netanyahu haters believe in democracy? If they did, they'd be raging, 'what are you doing? the man is innocent until proven guilty'. Instead, they trash basic democratic principles and rage, 'he must go now! He's guilty! Period!'

The anti-Netanyahu crowd dismisses democracy. It doesn't want Netanyahu in the PM's seat. It doesn't care which of democracy's principles it must violate--so long as they get rid of a hated enemy.

This is Israel's democracy problem.

Israel's anti-democracy advocates want a change. They fail at the ballot box--another basic of a democracy. So they avoid the ballot box. Instead, they indict Netanyahu for actions no other democracy on this planet has ever criminalized (here).   

These anti-democracy Netanyahu haters hate 'innocent until proven guilty'. They hate democracy's fundamental ideas of the Rule of Law (which requires the presumption of innocence). Ultimately, they hate you, the voter.

These are the people trying to get rid of Netanyahu--which is why Israel has a democracy problem: by refusing to give Netanyahu the right to a presumption to innocence, with a promise of a fair and public trial, they trample on one of the most basic concepts of democracy. They also trample on one of the most fundamental of Basic Human Rights (see above). If this is how they treat the PM, how do you think they'll start treating you when they get into power?

If these people can criminalize Netanyahu, they can most certainly do it to you. This is why Israel has a problem with democracy.

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