Monday, January 12, 2009

Anti-democracy in Israel

No, it's not about Gaza. I'm staying out of that question.

But banning political parties is just wrong and a slap in the face to democracy anywhere. There's no two ways about it, it's wrong:

The Central Elections Committee (CEC) yesterday banned the Arab parties United Arab List-Ta'al and Balad from running in next month's parliamentary elections amid accusations of racism from Arab MKs. Both parties intend to challenge the decision in the Supreme Court.

Members of the CEC conceded yesterday that the chance of the Supreme Court's upholding the ban on both parties was slim.


The requests to ban the Arab parties were filed by two ultra right parties Yisrael Beiteinu and National Union-National Religious Party.

Senior Labor Party figures lashed out at the party's CEC representative, Eitan Cabel, who voted in favor of banning the two Arab parties.

A couple thoughts:
  • Hopefully, the Supreme Court overturns this, but until then, does that mean the cops get to "confiscate" (wreck) all the party's materials?
  • Labor seems awfully disorganized (one would think they could have gotten this one right), which is one reason Kadima has survived the effective loss of its founder, Ariel Sharon. Likud is the only party that seems to know what it's doing on the campaign front.

Mind you, I think this routine is disgusting no matter where it's attempted. Other democracies have sought (Germany) or succeeded (Spain and Belgium) in banning political parties that made the mainstream uncomfortable. This merely pushes the party's supporters outside the political process, where the transition to violence on their part is quicker and easier.

I can't imagine that peace would ever have come to Northern Ireland without Sinn Fein holding a seat at the table throughout, and offering a way inside the system to acquire what so many people were seeking outside the system. I can imagine few things worse than for Israel to silence most of the Arab voices in the Knesset.

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