Strong Democracies Don’t Need to Brag. Israelis, Take Note

Right-wing politicians keep telling us how Israel’s political system is better than Syria’s. It’s getting ridiculous.

Haaretz.
Haaretz Editorial
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Haaretz.
Haaretz Editorial

Israel’s right-wing government has found a new point of reference – Syria, a country groaning under a bloody civil war. Every time an Arab Knesset member tries to criticize something in Israel, the ministers immediately suggest that he “go to Syria.” Every time a right-wing minister or MK wants to boast about Israeli democracy, he compares it to what’s happening under Bashar Assad’s regime.

The latest example took place this week. After Deputy Knesset Speaker Ahmed Tibi and colleagues protested against the speech by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took the podium and bragged to the visitor about Israeli democracy.

“In our parliament,” Netanyahu said, “anyone can say anything they want. This is not possible in Damascus.” In another Knesset debate about a month ago, Culture Minister Limor Livnat taunted MK Mohammed Barakeh. “I’ll send you to Assad’s regime,” she said. “There you can talk about enlightenment and culture.” Tibi responded: “It’s won’t do that every time an Arab MK comments on something you’ve said, you bring up Syria.” Pandemonium erupted.

The comparisons to Syria and the statements about sending Arab MKs there are shameful and intolerable. More than once, Arab MKs have spoken out against the dictatorships in the Arab world, including Syria’s. They’re members of the Knesset, not any other parliament. This is their place – by right, not by any favor or benevolence on the part of the right wing.

The need to make comparisons at the expense of the bloody Syrian regime reflects Israeli democracy’s weakness, certainly not its strength. Strong, stable democracies, like those in properly run countries, don’t need to compare themselves to the worst regimes in order to be extolled.

Does Israel really want to be compared favorably to murderous Syria? Does it really want to be mentioned in the same breath as the Arab tyrannies? Israel’s system of government is immeasurably better than the regime in the Arab states. But is this fact enough to guarantee its strength and quality?

Instead of brandishing the racist suggestion that we send Israel’s Arabs to Syria, the government and right-wing politicians should occupy themselves with Israeli democracy, which is crying out to be strengthened.

Deputy Knesset Speaker Ahmed Tibi spars with National Union MK Michael Ben AriCredit: Emil Salman

Click the alert icon to follow topics:

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

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

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