Who Says Israel Has Democracy?

Once upon a time, a long time ago, I was a young journalist visiting in Israel. Just to give you an idea of how long ago, I was a blonde then and the Defense Minister, Arik Sharon, was just a "little stout".

Arlene Peck

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Once upon a time, a long time ago, I was a young journalist visiting in Israel. Just to give you an idea of how long ago, I was a blonde then and the Defense Minister, Arik Sharon, was just a "little stout". I remember meeting him at a 'working luncheon' and found him to be a little flirtatious and a lot charming.

Then, I thought he was nice and rational. Amazing how a few decades can change things. Today, I find Israel's prime minister neither charming nor rational. As an American living in California, I find him treacherous, corrupt and downright scary.

Lord, and this from a woman who also personally found Shimon Peres charming in her dealings with him. Makes me totally doubt my judgment in men, as both of them could not be more dangerous to the well-being of the Jewish State.

Do you know how confusing it is to read an article in anti-Semitic newspapers like the Los Angeles Times entitled, "Sharon Says He's Prepared to Make 'Painful Concessions'"? They never mention though, how, as a result, Israel will be making disastrous concessions. The Associated Press was absolutely gloating over how the Israeli prime minister, in his first interview with an Arab newspaper, sought to soften his image among Egyptians. How lovely. How absolutely terrific that, while the Jews are getting ready to be shipped out of their homes, Ariel is giving interviews to the Arab press about how ready, even anxious, he is to "make painful concessions." Now, here's a catchy phrase: "to end the region's half-century of conflict." Sharon might want to ask himself, before more destruction is done to Israel, who actually caused this "conflict". As though all of the marvelous concessions he, Yossi Beilin and Peres have in store are going to actually make the Arabs like the Jews. I don't think so.

The thinking behind the "painful concessions" comment is to show the Arab world that Sharon is really, really nice. So what if, as seen from here, the very future of Israel is hanging by a thread? And, while the Islamic enemy is using this time to re-group and re-charge, Sharon and company are giving photo-ops and interviews to Al-Ahram. He said that "he had faith that he, Abbas and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak could take the opportunity to push the Israeli, Egyptian and Palestinian people forward." Yadda, yadda, yadda.

Once again, Sharon 'hinted' that he would like to see a Palestinian state established during his term. Now, doesn't that make you feel all warm and fuzzy? Hey, I know the Palestinians have to be happy with him. After all, the Sharon and Peres duo have agreed to create a country for a people that did not exist until 1967. Furthermore, the Israeli prime minister was willing to state to the foreign press that the "controversial barrier Israel is building to separate itself from the West Bank will not mark the borders of a new Palestinian state."

I find it amazing that just like that, with a snap of the fingers, a few self-serving politicians just decided to "make a Palestinian state". Supporters of the new state in the press did have the decency to comment that Sharon still has a few "traditional sticking points such as the status of Jerusalem, the return of Palestinian refugees and the borders of the Palestinian state."

If it is so easy to make a state, then how difficult could it be to hire a public relations company and do a few photo-ops for a transfer? (Of course, moving the Jews out of their country was not the transfer that I had in mind.)

Everybody laughs about the 'fruits and nuts' living in California. And sometimes, I agree. However, not so long ago, a great many of us were unhappy with the mentality of the then-governor, Gray Davis. He was incompetent and costing the state a fortune. So, a grass roots effort was started and petitions signed and pretty soon, they had enough to have a vote for a new governor to run the state. The key word here folks, is "vote"!

Arnold was elected, the destruction was halted, and the rest is history. That, to me, folks, is democracy at work. The very idea that a few recycled politicians, for self-serving needs or due to misguided incompetence, can decide the direction of an entire country without a referendum of the entire population is not democracy! Agreeing to create a country for a people that did not exist until 1967 is bizarre. The people of Israel have to decide, in a countrywide referendum, what has to be done.

A lot of work needs to be done, and fast, but Israel can change the system. Critical life and death decisions are in the making and should not, can not, be done by a few destructive men. What is happening now is dangerous beyond comprehension. For the first time, I see the Jewish state in danger of a tremendous split from within. They have enough trouble from their real enemies, who live for their deaths, without continuing on the track they are on.

First and foremost, Israel needs a Constitution, just like every other real democracy. It wouldn't even hurt if the Israeli system could take a lead from what we do in the United States and actually use a system of government that has checks and balances. Someone could sit them down and tell the citizens of Israel all about the separate executive, judiciary and legislative powers - a system that actually works. The judiciary and the attorney general are important here, but they don't run the country, as seems to be happening in Israel's version of a "democracy".

Hey, maybe if they tried something called term limits, then we wouldn't be seeing, four or five decades later, the same old - and I do mean old - politicians still running the country. When it comes to our presidents, eight years is enough! Most of the time, it's more than enough.

And what better place to start than with the citizens of Israel and a referendum? It is obvious that the men leading the country need to be changed, but the system is the first problem.

The answer is not in a two-state solution, which Sharon and some anti-Semitic world leaders seem to be proposing. That is the beginning of the terrorists' state within Israel, which will be the ultimate destruction of Israel. Each concession that is forced upon and accepted by Israel, to my way of thinking, is another nail in the coffin of the country. "Never Again" seems to be "Possibly Again," if George Bush, Condoleezza Rice, Tony Blair, Kofi Annan, Vladimir Putin, Javier Solana, Sharon and Peres have their way.

Enough is enough!