Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to call early elections for the 19th Knesset liberates Israel from an anti-democratic Knesset that brought the tyranny of the majority to new heights.
Knesset members from Likud, headed by faction chairman Zeev Elkin, vied with MKs from Yisrael Beiteinu, Habayit Hayehudi and National Union in producing both legislation and verbiage aimed at riding roughshod over vulnerable minorities, first and foremost Israeli Arabs, as well as over civil society groups and human rights organizations. They made it their goal to reduce freedom of expression and freedom of protest and to intimidate the media. In an effort to prevent the evacuation of settlement outposts established on stolen, privately owned Palestinian land, legislators - led by Netanyahu and other senior ministers - searched tirelessly for ways to violate the rulings of our highest court and make the state prosecution odious.
The 18th Knesset polluted Israel's law books with the so-called "Nakba law," which undermines Israeli Arabs' right to observe Independence Day as a day of mourning, and with a law allowing small communities to set up admissions committees that can bar people from moving in on the grounds that they aren't suited to the community's outlook. The latter law was sponsored not only by MKs from the extreme right, but also by some from Kadima, the main opposition party.
Under former Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni's leadership, the Knesset's largest faction turned into a sheep without a shepherd, and above all, without a message. Since she resigned from the Knesset, Kadima has scattered to the four winds. Under her successor as party leader, Shaul Mofaz, the party joined the right-wing coalition, which served as the long arm of the Yesha Council of settlements.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak's surprising departure from the Labor Party partway through the 18th Knesset, and his division of the cabinet spoils among the four MKs who left with him, gave opportunism a bad name. MK Shelly Yacimovich, who was chosen as Labor's new leader, succeeded in turning the opposition benches into a launching pad, despite her blatant disregard for diplomatic issues and her utter silence when it came to protecting minorities. MKs from Meretz, Hadash, United Arab List-Ta'al and Balad were usually left alone at the front in their battle to defend democracy and repel racist legislation.
As the 18th Knesset ends its term, we should say "good riddance" and hope that, come January, the public will elect a new Knesset that is democratic, fair-minded and effective.