every high school student learns in the first year of their lessons in
citizenship, democracy must, at times, defend itself against those who are
attempting to destroy it. The problem is
that, in the eyes of some of our legislators, the best defense is a good
offense. This is the unavoidable
viewpoint of the “Impeachment Law,” according to which it will be possible,
with a majority of 90 votes, to remove Members of the Knesset from their
position on the grounds of “incitement and racism or support for terror.” In other words, they passed a baseless law
against Arab Members of Knesset.
There are legislators and political
leaders who choose to make for themselves fictitious enemies and then plant
them in the minds of the citizens. In doing
so, they reject the basic values and principles of democracy itself. They erode the breadth of the freedoms of
expression and assembly, and strengthen the dictatorship of the majority.
When democracy begins to attack as a
way of self-defense, it begins to lose its essence. There are those who take pride in the fact
that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. We even play soccer and basketball in
enlightened Europe and maintain productive trading relationships with the
entire democratic Western world. But
when it comes to the essence and foundations of existence, these leaders choose
to compete with the shady regimes of the region.
We can, Jews and Arabs, citizens of
Israel, refuse to agree with extremist utterances or with those that are not
within the Jewish or Arab consensus in Israel.
Nevertheless, it is our duty as citizens to defend democracy, its values
and its foundations, as best we can. Politicians
like Beni Begin and President Reuven Rivlin have chosen to do so quite
frequently. These are people whose
political positions are absolutely clear concerning everything connected to the
Israeli-Arab conflict, people whom one wouldn’t suspect of having a left-wing
political viewpoint nor even centrist. They
are simply fearful for Israeli democracy.
A democracy that rejects those that
are different, that pushes them to the margins or even to the extremities, will
not succeed in developing a stable civil life as it creates for itself these
imaginary enemies. It insists on
creating them in order to justify the on-going dominance of a minority group
over the majority with a heavy hand and by means of continued intimidation.
The legislative basis for the
“Impeachment Law” is an attempt at “neutralizing” specific Members of
Knesset. Someone has already nicknamed
it “the Haneen Zoabi Law.” Without going
into detail regarding the case of Ms. Zoabi, it is clear that we are not
speaking about defending the governance or honor of the Knesset. In actuality, the motivation is defending the
dictatorship of a minority within the majority by using the “Impeachment Law.” By means of this drug, the minority
neutralizes and controls the majority, which, under the influence of this law,
continues to imagine that only this minority group can promise peace and
security, and can protect the majority from these fictitious enemies.
In this manner, it is also possible
to continue justifying a policy of institutional discrimination against various
groups in Israeli society, to continue racist institutional practices against
various communities, even from among the majority, and to legitimize the racism
that is visible among citizens and people from different communities and
True democracy cannot but aspire to
reject and to annul the “Impeachment Law.”
This decision must also be based on the principles of justice over which
the High Court presides. If the High
Court does not do this, it will surrender to the minority, whose way and method
are the policy and culture of neutralization and intimidation.
author is the director of the Coalition against Racism.