Israeli Democracy Is Not in Crisis

Stand for Israel  |  June 10, 2019

Bibi speaking at a podium on Jerusalem Day in 2019.
PM Netanyahu on Jerusalem Day, 2019

In the past week, Israel’s many critics have delighted at the news that the Knesset will dissolve and the Jewish state will hold a second set of elections in September. But, writes JNS’ Jonathan Tobin, these enemies of Israel are really just mad at the prospect of Benjamin Netanyahu becoming Israel’s Prime Minister yet again:

Those who make these arguments will sound high-minded and principled. But what they are really whining about are the democratic choices that Israelis have made—not the potential demise of liberty in the Jewish state. As they’ve done before, Netanyahu’s critics continue to confuse their disgust at the outcome of Israel’s democratic elections with the question of whether the country remains a democracy.

The theme of Israeli democracy in crisis was proclaimed early and often in the months and weeks leading up to April. Those making that argument went on about the law that reaffirmed that Israel is a Jewish state, the tribalism of Israeli politics, the failure to make peace or the threat to the rule of law from corruption allegations against the prime minister.

But as they had done the previous three times they went to the polls, Israel’s voters rejected these arguments. A clear majority voted for right-wing and religious parties pledged to support Netanyahu. They did so not because they are stupid or don’t care about democracy. They voted for another Netanyahu-led government because they generally support the prime minister’s policies and didn’t want him replaced…

Whether or not Netanyahu governs for another few months or another few years, Israel will remain a vibrant and successful democracy. The answer for those who can’t stand his continued stay in office is not to eliminate him with a judicial coup or to smear his supporters as dolts or fascists. The only legitimate strategy for his foes is to defeat him at the polls if they can. But until that day arrives, their complaints about the doom of Israeli democracy should be ignored as nothing but cheap partisan invective.

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