Community Democracy

By Ehud Tokatly

An innovative model for a new constitutional system in Israel, the Community Democracy is the heart of a much needed vision: New Zionism.

A Model For Real Peace

The proposed model offers new ways to meet the challenges facing Israel in the 21st century. As such, it also holds the seeds for original socio-political design discussions and solutions to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Non-territorial federalism, as described below, may be the most practical and most benevolent concept for achieving just and lasting peace in the Holy Land, compromising neither historical rights nor security needs.

Against Apartheid

The widespread concept of separation between Arabs and Jews is neither practical nor morally justifiable.

Morally - the slogan "We Are Here And They Are There" is essentially an expression of hatred and paternalism, if not worse.

The decade of implementing the Oslo Process has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that separation of Palestinians and Israelis can only yield hostility and extremism, bloodshed and anguish.

Any person of moral integrity must reject all forms of racial segregation and strive to foster mutual respect and solidarity between neighboring communities.

Practically - both populations are mixed together across the country to such an extent that no boundaries or physical fences can create two territorial units with distinct national populations, which could make two viable national states.

Thus, any political borders drawn on the Holy Land's map would have to either leave large groups of people outside their "national homelands" - which would produce further frustration and violence, or force these minority groups to leave their homes and emigrate to their ethnic ghettos.

Against "Transfer"

Also the notion of expelling human beings from their homes is neither practical nor morally justifiable.

Morally - political considerations, such as national aspiration or religious doctrines, must never lead to the ruin of personal lives. No majority has the moral right to endorse a population-transfer policy that will inevitably destroy minority groups and individual lives.

Most people who propose "concessions" are nothing but hypocrites, since their true motives are hostile and the "compromises" they offer hurt other people, not themselves.

Furthermore, most of the past Middle East "peace plans" are based on double standards. Israeli "right-wing extremists" advocate the expulsion ("Transfer") of Arabs from this country, while opposing any dismantling of Jewish settlements. Similarly, Israeli "left-wing liberals" support the deportation ("Evacuation") of Jewish inhabitants from Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, while rejecting any "Fascistic Transfer" of Arabs.

Both are morally wrong, but "the liberals" are more hypocritical. If expelling Arabs represents "Fascism", how can they see the uprooting of Jews as "a noble sacrifice for peace"? Many "left wing liberals" are essentially either anti-Zionists - as they grant the Arabs a superior national claim over the Promised Land, or anti-Semitic - since they imply that Jewish settlers are entitled to fewer human rights than Arab Palestinians. They represent anything but true "left" or "liberalism".

The only honest option may be a symmetrically equal "exchange of populations". If "the left" and the Palestinians demand an ethnically purified Arab state, why should the Jewish state tolerate an Arab minority? Obviously, this kind of "moral equilibrium" must result in a human tragedy on a vast scale, driving almost 20% of the country's population into personal exile.

Therefore, any true settlement of the national conflict in the Holy Land, must never include the horrible idea of forcibly driving humans out of their homes.

Practically - to create two territories with homogenous ethnic populations, more than a million people would have to be "relocated". The financial cost of resettling such numbers of humans is beyond imagination. A cautious estimate has put the figures above the country's economic capacity for many years. This would ultimately lead to an economic disaster that may completely destroy both nations.

Moreover, assuming that enormous groups of people would agree to be moved around without offering any resistance is entirely unrealistic. Even a small minority can struggle against the eviction operations with such intensity that no number of troops would be able to handle peacefully.

In short, any attempt to "transfer" civilians, Jews or Arabs, is certain to result in horrific bloodshed. This is the sure way to catastrophe, not to real peace.

Peace Is Coexistence

Since separation and expulsion are ruled out, peace-loving people must seek ways to offer both Jews and Arabs hope and dignity. The Community Democracy system can provide all the people of the Holy Land equal rights as well as free expression of their unique identities. It provides all communities with more freedom to control their own affairs, without forcing any human to move to another location.

Federalism

The new socio-political model addresses many of Israel's current problems. It defines the Jewish homeland as a federal republic, where the multitude of ethnic, cultural, religious and ideological communities enjoy autonomous status.

Non-Territorial Autonomy

Unlike traditional federal systems, these autonomous communities will not necessarily be defined within territorial boundaries.

These new communities will grant all social and national groups a considerable measure of control over their lives, thus allowing all citizens, Jews and Arabs of all kinds, to enjoy a just, pluralistic society, with a stronger, more democratic federal government.

The non-territorial nature of the proposed autonomous communities should allow all citizens to participate in several communities simultaneously, thus enhancing their free choice and civil liberties. It would also prevent the creation of ethnic or ideological "ghettos" on the one hand, and curb cultural paternalism on the other.

Pluralism and Solidarity

The proposed system is not a new ideology or dogma. Rather, it is a practical model, which offers a real chance for diverse ideologies and alternate lifestyles to coexist in the spirit of solidarity. The new model is, therefore, neither "right-wing" nor "leftist", neither "liberal" nor "conservative", neither "religious" nor "secularist", neither "western" nor "oriental"... It is certainly not a "post-Zionist" proposition, nor is it a frustrating compromise between clashing dreams.

If You Will - It Is No Fairy Tale (Theodor Herzl)

Israelis have been brought up with the notion that dreams can come true. Large portions of The Zionist utopia have been fulfilled, perhaps even beyond the wildest aspirations of the founding pioneers.

Israel is a nation with a deep existential need for profound ideals. Its current material reality, harsh as it seems, is still far better than it has ever been since it lost its independence in ancient times. Israel's real problem is spiritual and communal. What Israelis really need is to find a new dream to bind them closer together and provide new hope for all.

Moreover, scholarly experts have endorsed the concept of Community Democracy as a most practical system for many societies in the new era.

Let us, therefore, create the "Dream Of Dreams" - a dream that comprises a multitude of different aspirations and offers a just and realistic chance for peace.


Read about the Community Democracy in Ehud Tokatly's utopia "The New Altneuland"

About Ehud Tokatly and more of his articles




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