Tough times call for harsh solutions.
In Israel 2004 the following ethnic groups are living: Jewish tribes (secular, traditional, religious, and progressively religious), some of whom are also defined or separated by geographical source (Asia, North Africa, Arab countries, old Europe + northern America, ex-communist countries), Arab tribes (Muslim, Christians), Druze, Cherkessk, Bedouin, others (mainly foreign workers from south East Asia). Currently, all those groups and semi-groups live intermingled, each unable to fully exercise its tradition and beliefs, the ever growing friction results in a volatile and explosive situation.
Achieving a national consensus under those circumstances is impossible. As all public opinions and other stats prove, internal division, if not hatred, is a trend gathering speed and force.
A concise list of existential problems which threaten the 6.5 million Israeli people: growing gaps in social and economic equality, deep involvement of religion into state structure and activities, large uninhabited land stretches vs. the world highest population concentration along a narrow land strip, inadequate water supply to all in acceptable cost, continuous decrease in education quality coupled with increase in education cost, continuous increase in social aggressiveness, decrease in personal security vs., increase in organized crime power and its infiltration of governmental authorities, decrease in work productivity, decrease in official authorities functionality, decrease in national overall strength and economic independence.
Those two converging vectors – an almost unprecedented array of existential problems on both personal and national levels, as well as increase of social divisiveness – demand presenting a solution, or a number of executable solutions, in the very near future. This is what I am trying to do here, not claiming any originality. Anyone can use this article at will with no previous permission required.
Assuring the state of Israel's existence and continuous growth, by establishing such a social and governmental structure that will allow its citizens (and permanent residents) to fulfill, on one hand, their aspirations for personal realization and happiness in ways and means adequate to them, while substantially decreasing the number and depth of inter-personal and inter-factional friction, and thus, on the other hand, allowing a concentration of national effort to solve national problems. Time frame - within 20 years.
The solution: Cantonization
1.1 Canton: a geographical area, whose residents accept its rules and regulations (on top of the declaration of independence and basic statutes).
1.2 Executive and legislature authorities: national level (president, Knesset, government), Cantonese (semi-Knesset, semi-government), municipal (municipality or local authority).
1.3 National elections: president will be elected directly by the people, 50% of Knesset members will be elected on regional / Cantonese basis, 50% national or party's basis.
1.4 Cantonese elections: 50% will be elected on regional basis (municipal), 50% on Cantonese basis.
1.5 Government: 18 members. Membership is not subject to Knesset membership. The new constitution will redefine "civil service" to be in the British and or American structure.
1.6 Updating any of the above will necessitate a 75% majority of members of Knesset.
1.7 Constitution: the state will become a federal construction, under which cantons will enjoy a great or a lesser level of autonomy, depending on area of activity. Federal constitution and its mutual elements with Cantonese rules will be determined by a founding committee. After final approval of the constitution, updating it necessitates a 75% majority of the people.
1.8 Founding committee: a relative representation will be given to all parts of the citizenry and residents. Within one year, its proposal for a new federal constitution will be submitted to open public debate. 18 months after its establishment, the founding committee will be abolished and a new constitution will be in force after acceptance by an absolute majority of population.
1.9 Citizen's obligations (such as taxation): each citizen will be equal before the law regarding fulfilling his/her national obligations. On top of those, each citizen/resident will have to carry out Cantonese obligations, as long as he/she resides there.
1.10 People's commissioner: on both national and Cantonese levels there will be certain bridging and problems' solving installations to handle the period of transition.
2.1 1967 Israel will be divided into 3 cantons: a canton can and will extend sometimes over more than one geographic area, and no territorial continuity is necessary. Basic canton's definition will be based on mutual cultural elements: language, religion, belief, tradition.
2.2 One canton will be dedicated to citizens and residents, who wish to live in accordance with the Jewish religion. Second canton will be a place where western democracy will be the utter rule. Third canton will be set for all the rest.
2.3 there will be no coercion in choosing the canton where one wished to live. The only obligation would be to live in accordance with its rules. A free transfer from one canton to another at any time is a basic given right.
2.4 Thus, 10 years after the new constitution is adopted, a citizen will not be able to go to court against Cantonese rules. He/she will be free to try updating the rules by following the federal and Cantonese laws.
2.5 The state of Israel will be federal, democratic, and the Declaration of Independence its guide.
2.6 within a period of 10 years, the state will assist people who would like to relocate to another canton. After 10 year, any relocation will be a private matter.
2.7 every 10 years, a federal committee will be established for a six months period, whose mandate would be suggestions for slight changes or updates in the above-described. I.E. redefining cantons' borders.
3.1 In regard with marital and wedding rules each canton would have total freedom. For instance, a couple could be regarded as married in one canton, and unmarried in another.
3.2 National service: A citizen, who would so prefer, will serve a civil service an equivalent period with the army service period.
3.3 Geographic borders: an example to a Jewish religious canton – parts of Jerusalem, parts of Benei Brak, Rechassim community.
This problem was deliberately neglected. My opinion is, that dedicating all energies to attacking this problem while freezing all else, subjects that are in our absolute domain and capacity, was, is and will be a very grave and possibly a critical mistake.
However, the success of a model that builds unity within the diversity of Israel's Jewish and Arab tribes may well show the way and help in finding innovative solutions to the Palestinian-Israeli problem.
The Swiss Example
About Amos Shvueli
A Poem by Amos Shvueli
Articles published in HopeWays' 'News & Views' section