Text size

The tsunami is finally here, not in September as expected, but rather in November, and not one initiated by the Palestinians or the United Nations. No, it was a small group of extreme right Knesset members, who do not comprehend the true meaning of the law in free democratic societies. The danger is not the proposals themselves but rather the ideology, the direction and the motives behind them.

The truth of the matter is that in some quarters there is way too much hysteria and exaggeration about the future of democracy in Israel as a result of these proposed bills. Not every bad law constitutes a danger to democracy. A proposal that erodes the independence of the Supreme Court is more dangerous than a proposal to enlarge the maximum penalty for slander. A proposal that arbitrarily changes the constitution of the Judicial Appointments Committee is one matter, while a proposal aimed at curbing the ability of foreign states to influence the public discourse in Israel, is quite another matter, especially in terms of states hostile to Israel and who act against it in every international forum.

Some specific proposed laws should never be accepted in democratic states, but there are others that are bad, superfluous and non-liberal - but not necessarily anti-democratic. The prime minister was unequivocal about the independence of the Supreme Court, and beyond the political significance of Benjamin Netanyahu's statements on this subject - that he won't allow these proposals to be accepted - his statements also carry significant educational value.

Still, the ideology and reasoning behind this deluge of proposed laws are most problematic and dangerous. These Knesset members declare openly that it's about time the right should rule. According to their statements, they aren't content with a right-wing government, but believe that thanks to their (meager ) majority in the Knesset, they should create a situation in which the political right rules all spheres of society - and that is precisely where the danger lies.

The regime rules only in dictatorships. Democratic governments do not rule their citizens. They do, indeed, govern and decide in matters of state, but they don't rule.

When a revolution occurs in an undemocratic state, the constitution is changed, and the leaders are locked in a cage or executed. In democratic countries, one doesn't have revolutions but rather changes of government, and when that occurs, policies change but not the society's core principles nor the constitutional pillars that balance the various segments of society. In the United States, dozens of governments and presidents have come and gone, but the status of the Supreme Court hasn't changed at all.

The results of the last elections led to the creation of a right-wing government. This government can decide to transfer funds to the Palestinian Authority, to attack Iran or to set new priorities in the socioeconomic sphere. But it has absolutely no mandate to rule the law courts, the media or civil society, and, unfortunately, that is the declared and dangerous aim of the Knesset members. I believe that Benjamin Netanyahu is, indeed, a democrat. He will be tested by his determined stand against the murky wave of those Knesset members who "want to rule."

Read this article in Hebrew: רק בדיקטטורה המשטר שולט