Op-Ed: Democracy and Liberty
MK Moshe FeiglinThe writer, former MK and Speaker of the Knesset, is head of the Zehut...
I read the Ha’aretz newspaper from cover to cover on the day after the military coup in Egypt. Apparently, the editors were certain that there was not much to add to the news, so the front page of the newspaper was filled with commentary. But the leftist mentality trumpeted by Ha’aretz did not produce one writer who simply stated the fact that this was a military coup against a democratically elected president, who had won by a solid majority in highly supervised elections.
As much as I searched, I could not find one major pundit who attempted to explain how it is that the adoration of the free world is so lavishly bestowed upon a military that forcibly overthrows the elected government.
Democracy has no meaning if it is not supported by an appropriate culture. The majority of Egyptians desired Islamic rule and voted for it in democratic elections. But “Allah rules by the sword” – not by freedom of choice; and so, Egyptian democracy never had any real meaning. The majority preferred a dictatorship: That is its right, but it is not really democracy as the West defines it, just the holding of democratic elections.
Democracy has no meaning if it is not supported by an appropriate culture.
While the coup was taking place, the Knesset passed a law that testifies to the fact that Israel does not really have a democratic culture, either:
The majority of the Knesset decided – by democratic majority – that even if representatives of more than half the nation do not want them to serve any longer – they will not be required to step down. MK Ronen Hoffman’s (Yesh Atid) legislation says that 65 MKs out of 120 are now necessary to bring the government down. Tomorrow, Opposition leader Shelly Yechimovitz could be PM and take advantage of her majority to decide that 75 MKs are required to bring the government down. Why not?
This folly did not begin in the Knesset. It has become commonplace in the backyards of the large parties. There – particularly in the Likud – it has become routine for the leadership to take control of the party institutions. I had warned that the erosion of the democratic spirit within the party would eventually trickle down to the Knesset. And now it has happened. The next step will be computerization of the general elections – just like in the major parties – which will make the general elections a sad joke. There is no such thing as a secret ballot through a computer, just as there is no such thing as a confidential biometric database.
Of course, I voted against the new Governability Law. But I could not help but to sense the overdose of hypocrisy overflowing from the Opposition benches, angrily opposing the law. Just one day earlier, the Knesset had marked the Expulsion from Gush Katif. Never had a more tyrannical, patently anti-democratic wind howled through the State of Israel than in the bitter summer of 2004. When all the attempts to explain the reason for this strange expulsion did not work, the Left focused on the claim that became a fervently religious declaration and the cornerstone of the re-education of the IDF and Israel’s citizens:
“If we disobey orders today,” the propaganda machine explained, “the other side will disobey tomorrow, and the State will collapse.” In other words, for the Left, the rule of law became the essence of democracy. Not the values of liberty, but the values of governability. The law is above all, for if not, the State will collapse. And that, it seems, is above everything else.
“The State above all” is the simple definition of fascism. I voted this week against the Governability Law. Deep down I know that it is specifically the Left that will make the most evil use of the rupture in the State of Israel’s democratic foundations breached this week by the National Camp.