MKs in a Glass House

The question that remains is: Does this lack of confidence stem from the electoral system that brought to the Knesset representatives who have lost the public's confidence, or could the same system have produced more worthy representatives if they had been chosen based on a different value system?

talia sasson
Talia Sasson
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
talia sasson
Talia Sasson

A central message that was conveyed by the social protest failed to appear on any of the posters, but it was expressed by every tent - the utter despair for over Israel's representative democracy, or, more specifically, for our representatives, the MKs.

The demonstrators did not see the MKs as interlocutors. After one lawmaker staged a media event at the Rothschild tent camp in an effort to extract some political capital, and failed, the MKs stayed away from the tent camps. Nor were they invited to speak to the protesters, even though there were lectures at the tent camps every evening.

Mass demonstrations in Israel's social protest movement.Credit: Daniel Bar-On

The demonstrators did not distinguish between the different MKs - none was particularly welcome. The other side refusing to talk was the prime minister, and to him a very clear message was conveyed by the protesters' posters, over the MKs' heads, the very MKs who, of course, got to the Knesset by dint of the protesters' own votes.

But let's not get confused: The message coming from the tent camps was a strengthening of democracy. This was one of the major objectives of the protest. This was evident by the intensive use of the right to protest and demonstrate, which is one of the most fundamental political rights in a democracy. And whoever protests wants something to change, and also believes change is possible.

Democracy is, after all, based on a marketplace of ideas, on clarifying the truth and the possibility of change. Indeed, the protesters demanded transparency and a real dialogue. They were asking to examine the difficulties and to debate possible solutions to them. They wanted to expose the general public to knowledge and to different arguments. But they were not taking any suggestion as self-explanatory - not even those coming from the experts they themselves appointed. They want to get to the bottom of everything and then decide.

The democratic method that developed in the tent camps - and that prevails even now that the tents are primarily virtual ones - is direct democracy, similar to the democracy of ancient Greece, based on 21st-century technology. This represents a decisive lack of confidence of a large swath of the public in its representatives. It's hard, it seems, to argue with this.

The question that remains is: Does this lack of confidence stem from the electoral system that brought to the Knesset representatives who have lost the public's confidence, or could the same system have produced more worthy representatives if they had been chosen based on a different value system?

In any event, the message that the MKs are meant to be getting is that if they want to stay in their jobs, they'd better "switch discs." A nation that demands social justice is interested in MKs who tell them the truth, about everything. The people have pushed their representatives into the house where the television show "Big Brother" is staged, where they can keep an eye on them, every minute.

The representatives will have to act appropriately: Which of the MKs will actually work toward breaking up monopolies and increasing competition to reduce prices, rather than just engage in cheap populism? Which of them will increase inspection and supervision? Which will fight government corruption? And which will resist the urge to attend every glittering event staged by the current "hot" tycoon?

Which MKs will come up with even more new laws that increase hatred between Jews and Arabs? And which, by contrast, will work to increase equality in Israeli society? Who will replace the message of populist hatred with one of acceptance? And who will generate some sympathy for the average citizen and his problems?

The social protest unleashed a great deal of pent-up anger and disappointment among many strata of the public. But it carried a great deal of optimism as well; a large public demanding change did so using the tools that democracy put at its disposal and did not resort to violence. And a young, energetic and ethical generation has revealed its face - and it is a beautiful one indeed.

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

SUBSCRIBE
Already signed up? LOG IN

ICYMI

Charles Lindbergh addressing an America First Committee rally on October 3, 1941.

Ken Burns’ Brilliant ‘The U.S. and the Holocaust’ Has Only One Problem

The projected rise in sea level on a beach in Haifa over the next 30 years.

Facing Rapid Rise in Sea Levels, Israel Could Lose Large Parts of Its Coastline by 2050

Tal Dilian.

As Israel Reins in Its Cyberarms Industry, an Ex-intel Officer Is Building a New Empire

Queen Elizabeth II, King Charles III and a British synagogue.

How the Queen’s Death Changes British Jewry’s Most Distinctive Prayer

Newly appointed Israeli ambassador to Chile, Gil Artzyeli, poses for a group picture alongside Rabbi Yonatan Szewkis, Chilean deputy Helia Molina and Gerardo Gorodischer, during a religious ceremony in a synagogue in Vina del Mar, Chile last week.

Chile Community Leaders 'Horrified' by Treatment of Israeli Envoy

Queen Elizabeth attends a ceremony at Windsor Castle, in June 2021.

Over 120 Countries, but Never Israel: Queen Elizabeth II's Unofficial Boycott