Democracy and its Headaches

Michael Freund,

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Michael Freund
Michael Freund served as Deputy Communications Director in the Israeli Prime Minister's Office under Binyamin Netanyahu during his first term of office. He is the Founder and Chairman of Shavei Israel (www.shavei.org), a Jerusalem-based organization that searches for and assists the Lost Tribes of Israel and other "hidden Jews" seeking to return to the Jewish people. In addition, Freund is a correspondent and syndicated columnist for the Jerusalem Post, and authors a popular blog on Middle East affairs, Fundamentally Freund. A native New Yorker, Freund is a graduate of Princeton University and holds an MBA in Finance from Columbia. He has lived in Israel for the past 19 years and remains a loyal New York Mets fan....

Israeli democracy suffered yet another blow over the weekend, when the army issued decrees barring Jews from moving to the Gaza Strip and Samaria communities slated for expulsion this summer.

This heavy-handed move undermines some of the country’s most basic civil liberties, such as freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, and the right to protest against government policy.

The IDF is also reportedly planning to declare these areas to be “closed military zones”, thereby making it illegal for any non-residents to be there – a move aimed clearly at limiting the size, and extent, of on-site protests.

On the surface, this might seem eminently logical – after all, if the government plans on removing the Jewish residents, then why make the task more difficult by allowing others to join them in advance of any withdrawal?

But that argument simply doesn’t hold water for one very simple reason: a government’s job is not to make its own life easier, but to safeguard the freedoms of its citizens. And that includes the freedom to give the government a policy-oriented headache.

Issuing such over-arching decrees only serves to reinforce the government’s image as plowing ahead with little or no regard for the niceties (and basic requirements) of democracy.

And in the end, regardless of where one stands on the proposed withdrawal, that is something that no one can, nor should, countenance.