Just Don't Cause Him Any Trouble

Israel's democracy is very sick, because without healthy political parties, it is beyond repair - a mere empty shell.

These lines are being written before the big speeches, but it's easy to guess their content - disappointment. After all, with this speaker, it's the situation that dictates the words, and he has no intention of changing it, just as it hasn't changed him. God, You have chosen us to have a useless government.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will stand on Capitol Hill and speak in praise of Israeli democracy, which is the only one in the entire Middle East and America's only ally. When he says "our common values," they'll melt there in Congress. They'll heap compliments on each other. The flattering comparison to Syria, Libya and Yemen will do the job: It will flatter us and reap applause.

But even Israel's democracy leans more toward the East than the West. It is ridiculous to praise a country that maintains a regime of occupation alongside it, that tramples human rights every day under the heels of its boots. It was not by chance that many empires rid themselves of the millstone of colonialism around their necks when they had to choose between continued expansion and degeneration and the beginnings of sobriety and renewal.

And it is sheer foolishness to praise a democracy that lacks a serious chief opposition party, one that provides an ideological and practical alternative. Just when the world is being born anew, the national consensus is standing tall and casting its shadow, which covers all the crimes.

What kind of a democracy looks more like a plutocracy, controlled by 10 families? There are those who dirty it for NIS 1.5 million a month, and there are those who clean for NIS 1,500. A day will come when the pyramid-structure companies that rule us will open and our democracy will be revealed as a sarcophagus.

This is a democracy whose minorities are excluded and shortchanged; whose weak populations are easy prey for the national disorder of privatization; whose personal status is placed in the hands of clerics and abandoned to petrified whims dating from ancient geological-theological eras; whose political system suffers from constipation and has trouble excreting, such that the excrement gets stuck and rises to the surface; in whose barrel large and rotten apples are multiplying, yet which grants immunity from investigation to a prime minister who stumbles.

Though it moves like a democracy and quacks like a democracy, it's still a duck. Last week, yet another party of chiefs without Indians was launched here, a party of envoys without dispatchers and without a mission. The chairman - arrogant and confident as befits a defense minister before Nakba Day - demanded far-reaching powers for himself and received them. Even Napoleon's dreams sometimes come true: He still has the High Court of Justice and B'Tselem exerting to contend with, but he has now dispensed with the blight of a party central committee. Ehud Barak will navigate, just as Avigdor Lieberman does in his party, and decide unanimously.

Kadima too, with its 28 shabby MKs, was created in the image of the caudillo. Ariel Sharon collected its representatives like abandoned eggs and put them all in one basket, on condition that they not cause him any trouble; most were then bequeathed to his successors.

Yisrael Beiteinu's 15 anonymous legislators were handpicked by Lieberman. Shas' 11 dishrags were gathered by Rabbi Ovadia Yosef: Had they not wiped his boots, they would not have made it onto his slate. United Torah Judaism's five Jews were invented by the rabbis, who tell them "thou shalt" and "thou shalt not." A strange professor, like Big Brother, ranked Habayit Hayehudi's three tenants with a perceptive scientific eye. And we have already mentioned Aztmaut's five menservants and maidservants. That gives us a total of 67 MKs - a majority - who represent democracy for show and not for use, a democracy operated by the method of launch it and forget about it.

Our democracy is very sick, because without healthy political parties, it is beyond repair - a mere empty shell. The parties must be rehabilitated, not buried.

But all that is just between us: Don't tell them in Washington.