Monday, December 10, 2012

James Madison, On the Erosion of Israeli Democracy


Much has been said over the past few years about the erosion of democracy and civil liberties in Israel. To be honest, within the "green line' this has been more threat than action. Still threats, also condition behavior  and force people to stay within the normative consensus. And the threats seem to be getting ever closer to being actualized.

So are these illiberal trends a result of a Jewish character flaw, of the fatal contradictions within Zionist ideology, or a slow leakage into Israel of  "Levantine" norms?

No, rather its the result of perpetual war. James Madison, fourth President of the United States and a father of its Constitution, predicted it.
“Of all the enemies to public liberty,war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”
Israel, as Hannah Arendt already predicted in 1948, has been in a constant state of war since its founding. And the war footing and war hysteria has only grown over time.

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