By Noah Nissani
In the latter case, they say, the state could not be simultaneously Jewish and democratic. This argument is correct with respect to an Euro-continental parliamentary democracy kind, which has a deplorable historical record and paved the way for the rise of Nazism, Fascism, and Marxism.
Lenin's conception of party discipline was the basis for Stalin's dictatorship, who became the absolute ruler of the Soviet Union without holding any government post. In Israel, the Prime Minister is generally the dominant figure in the party, which grants him almost total control of the government and the Knesset. Montesquieu asserts that the unique source of democracy's power is virtue. In his view, monarchy or aristocracy, can survive with a certain amount of corruption since they have a different source of power, but corrupt democracies soon collapse (4). Indeed, the above-mentioned deficiencies have led in many occasions to the delegitimation of democratically constituted governments and to their replacement by dictatorships. In some cases it is the government itself which, feeling threatened by its loss of legitimacy among the citizens, takes emergency measures that ultimately turn the government into a dictatorship. Such was the case of the Fascism in Italy following the assassination of the socialist leader Giacomo Matteotti. In other cases such as the Spanish Civil War, civil or military forces deposed the elected authorities, regarded by them as delegitimized.
Fortunately, there are other forms of democracy which are more liberal and stable. Their prime example is American democracy, which has survived for over two centuries. It should be noted that since its inception, American democracy faced the challenge of building a liberal democracy for a heterogeneous society. In Israel, where nearly a 20% of the population inside the "green line" are Arabs, we face a similar challenge, with or without the Arab populations of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza.
A liberal democracy in a heterogeneous society must take into account the idiosyncrasies and needs of the diverse components in the society. Otherwise, it would resemble some boys and a girl who form a democratic society in which everything is decided by majority rule. (The result is left to the reader's imagination.) In the American case, the less populated states felt their freedom threatened by the more populated ones. In a strict "one-man one-vote" regime, this threat could have constituted a real danger. The wise solution was to violate the principle of equal political rights in favor of addressing the needs and concerns of each component. The bicameral English parliament, itself designed for a heterogeneous society, became the model for the two Houses of the American Congress: the House of Representatives and the Senate. In the latter, each state is represented by two senators, regardless of its population. Therefore, one resident of Arkansas has almost the same influence as twenty Californians in the Senate.
True peace can only be achieved if an authentic liberal approach is adopted. This approach must provide an adequate solution for the dispersed Jewish people, whose survival is threatened as a minority everywhere outside of Israel, and as an isolated enclave amidst a sea of Arab nations. Therefore, the issues of security and immigration must be exclusively in the hands of the Jews. At the same time, the Arabs must also be provided with an adequate frame for autonomous existence, and full enjoy of civil and political rights. This can be achieved within an American-type democracy, in which the principle of strictly egalitarian participation of all citizens in all issues has been wisely sacrificed in favor of a realistic concern for the specific needs of the parts.
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(1) "What is to be done?" (1902) Wladimir Ilich Lenin
(2) It is worth noticing that in the new Constitution the Germans felt need to explicitly establish, what in liberal concepts must be self-evident:
" They are representatives of the whole people, are not bound by orders and
instructions and are subject only to their conscience." (Art. 38)
(3) "When legislative power is united with executive power in a single person or in a single body of the magistracy, there is no liberty". ("The Spirit of the Laws", Charles Louis de Secondat Baron de Montesquieu (1689-1755))
"Two powers that generate one the other in this manner, cannot be too
independent". ("Bases, and Start-up Points for the Politic Organization of the
Argentine Republic", (1852) Juan Bautista Alberdi (1810-84))
(4) "There need not be much integrity for a monarchical
government or despotic government to maintain or sustain itself .... But in a popular
state there must be an additional spring, which is VIRTUE.... in a popular government when
the laws have ceased to be executed, as this can come only from the corruption of the
republic, the state is already lost." (Montesquieu o.c. i, III, 3)
Ze'ev Jabotinsky - The Israeli Classical Liberal Website
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