A Comment By Ehud Tokatly

Selective Democracy

Sharon's controversial plan has exposed some strange perceptions of Israeli democracy.

Prof. Yaron Ezrahi of 'The Israel Democracy Institute' claimed in a recent radio interview that the majority in the Knesset is sufficient for the government to go on with its plans.

Many simple folks like myself, who are neither scholars nor experts in the field of democracy, could not believe their ears. What majority in the Knesset? Prof. Ezrahi spoke as if the current parliamentary coalition is based on the political parties that are known to support plans of unilateral withdrawal.

Yet, reality is different. Some 58% of the public voted for parties which officially object to such plans (Likud, NRP, Ihud-Leumi, Yahadut HaTorah and Shas). Most people think that our democratic system is based on our political parties and their ideological platforms. We vote for the parties' candidates, expecting them to fulfil their pre-elections promises. If they change their minds and decide to adopt the opposite agenda, they should seek the support of the public in a new elections.

It seems that this simple democratic logic is too simplistic for clever academics like Ezrahi. Many Israelis simply feel cheated as their votes are stolen by the opposite ideology.

Could it be that certain experts approve of this peculiar pattern since they tend to have certain political preferences? Would they approve of a left-wing politician who decides in mid-term to suddenly support a right-wing programme?

Ehud Tokatly, 4/November/2004

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