As a result of the most recent round of elections, an Arab Islamist political party- Raam, currently seems to hold the keys to deciding which of the two major blocs will have enough votes to pass the 61 vote threshold and gain control of the next government. Typically, whenever a political party in Israel gets the coveted kingmaker status, it has the ability to ask for virtually anything in return for its votes- including Defense Minister portfolio or even rotational prime minister.
While liberal Jewish establishment groups proudly parade Arab participation in Israeli elections as a symbol of Israel’s democratic character, how would these same groups feel about Mansour Abbas- Islamist and Muslim Brotherhood ally as Defense Minister of Israel? It would be an outcry and embarrassment for Israel the democracy if it did not welcome the possibility of Mr. Abbas becoming the future Defense Minister. It would be racist to even hesitate or think twice about it. If Israel is a real democracy, Abbas, by all standards could clearly be the next leader of Israel’s defense establishment. What difference does his ideological affinity towards Islamism and support for Hamas and Hezbollah make?
For decades, much-villified Rabbi Meir Kahane preached that Israel’s declaration of independence was a schizophrenic document for defining Israel as both a Jewish state and a democracy. To the chagrin and consternation of the entire liberal Jewish establishment, he stubbornly argued that Israel could be either a Jewish state or a democracy, but could never be both.
His rhetorical argument was simple: Would Arabs be given the right to democratically rescind Israel’s status as a Jewish state, if they were to become a majority? If Israel was a democracy, then it certainly could not and should not prevent such an outcome. However, that would by all definitions spell the end of Israel as a Jewish state. Thus the contradiction. Israel can close its eyes and be both Jewish and democratic for as long as possible, but eventually, circumstance will force Israelis to prioritize between the two.
That day has come much sooner than expected.
I would pose a question to AIPAC, ADL, AJC and all of the other establishment Jewish organizations that condemn and refuse to meet with Itamar Ben Gvir, elected member of Knesset who they consider a rightist racist. Would they agree to meet with Monsour Abbas? Would they agree to meet with him and support his candidacy, as political kingmaker, for the future Defense Minister of Israel? How can any hesitation on their part be interpreted as anything but racism - the same racism that they condemn Ben Gvir for having?
These elections have really put the Jewish liberal establishment into a bind and have exposed the incoherency of their position. Israel is not Finland or Puerto Rico. It does not have a generally cohesive, peaceful population which are key ingredients for a democracy to work. It has a hostile and large minority population that does not hide its aspirations and intentions to one day replace the Jewish state for an Arab one. Under the circumstances that Israel is in, classic democracy simply can’t work. Thank you Mr. Abbas for making this point clear for all to see.
Let’s end the charade, and recognize that first and foremost Israel is a Jewish state. Its priority is the safety and security of the Jewish people, its borders and its Jewish character. Let's recognize that our responsibility of being a light onto all nations does not mean aping the nations. It means serving as a unique and refined example to the world.
While there are useful aspects of democracy that can ne incorporated into Israel’s system of governance, let us recognize that it should never be Israel’s sole blueprint for governance. Jews have their own unique blueprint for how they conduct their affairs as individuals and as a society – it’s called the Torah. It has a great track record for those who follow it.
Avraham Shusteris is an accountant in Ramat Beit Shemesh. He made aliyah from Monsey with his family in 2018.