Elitism

Of the essence of Israeli politics.

Prof. Paul Eidelberg,

Paul Eidelberg
Paul Eidelberg
PR
After Ariel Sharon's landslide victory over Ehud Barak in the February 6, 2001, election, Shimon Peres, anxious to become Israel's foreign minister, urged his Labor Party's central committee to join Sharon in a national unity government. He excoriated his opponents saying, "We must listen to the people."

Member of Knesset Yossi Beilin responded to Peres by saying, in effect, 'Since when
It would be incorrect to attribute elitism solely to the Left.
have we listened to the people?' He then referred to the people's opposition to Israel's withdrawal from the Golan Heights, which did not deter the Labor party from pursuing that policy. Moreover, he suggested that had Labor listened to the people, it would not have pursued the Oslo "peace process."

Elitism is of the essence of Israeli politics. This was clearly implied by Judge Aharon Barak, former president of Israel's Supreme Court, when he baldly stated that his duty is to be "faithful to the views of the enlightened population," meaning Israel's intellectual and cultural elites - a small minority of ultra-secularists estranged from the Jewish heritage.

It would be incorrect to attribute elitism solely to the Left. Elitism - or should I say, "self-aggrandizement"? - also animates the so-called Right. A simple fact makes this plain: virtually all members of the Knesset oppose the only method by which to mitigate elitism, namely, by making MKs individually accountable to the people in constituency elections.

Can you imagine Beilin asking publicly, "Since when have we listened to the people?" if he had to compete against a rival candidate in a constituency election?

As for Peres' remark, "We must listen to the people," nothing has ever deterred Israel's notorious "saboteur" from saying anything to advance his personal ambitions. But notice, it is precisely because the architect of the Oslo Accords never had to compete against a rival candidate that he was able to remain in office one election after another during the past four decades. It was enough for Peres to rank at the top of the Labor Party slate to secure his seat in the Knesset. And, yes, this is why he is now the president of the State of Israel.

As for Beilin, who was Peres' Oslovian co-conspirator, he would not be in office today were it not for election by party slates rather than by direct, personal election. Beilin is an unabashed elitist. Even though he was no longer a member of the Knesset, he concocted and signed the December 2003 Geneva Accord
The architect of the Oslo Accords never had to compete against a rival candidate.
with
Yasser Abd Rabbo, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization's Executive Committee. In the United States, intruding into the domain of foreign policy by a private citizen would have landed Beilin in jail under the Logan Act. But we are in Israel, "the only democracy in the Middle East," where even treason is respectable.

To be ethically neutral, however, the Geneva Accord is an extra-governmental, and therefore unofficial, peace proposal meant to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It would give the Palestinians almost all of Judea and Samaria (Gaza was also included), and thus draw Israel's borders close to what existed before the Six Day War of June 1967. In return for removing most of the Israeli settlements in these areas, and for giving them control of the Old City of Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount, the Arabs would limit their so-called "right of return" to Israel to a number specified by Israel's government.

Doesn't this resemble the policy Ehud Olmert took to Annapolis?


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