18 thoughts on “Someone Tell Amos Schocken, Israel Isn’t a “Constitutional Democracy” – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. My understanding was that Schocken was calling for an ongoing effort to shape Israel as a Liberal constitutional democracy – not that it was one already. There have been several groups trying to craft a constitution for Israel, chief among them is the Israel Democracy Institute. But yes, getting back to your main point, I am pretty sure that he knows that Israel doesn’t have a constitution, just as almost any middle school student in Israel knows, let alone the publisher of Haaretz. Your other points were valid opinions of course, but you might have been a little harsh on him on his knowledge regarding Israel’s lack of constitution, as if he was trying to pull a fast one or something.

    1. Israel will adopt a constitution when it specifies its borders, the two are linked. As the Zionist project is in high gear on the ground, borders (and a constitution) may have to wait until sizable pieces of Iraq and Lebanon and Syria are washed clean and annexed. This may take some time.

      1. Hmmmm try to write a constitution which guarantees superior rights to Jews and then market that as a democratic cornerstone. It will be as difficult as having a constitution which has written rules of Jews’ “less superior” rights and on the same claiming the country to be a modern democracy. Israel has no constitution not because of the unclear borders and its extraordinary area claims. It has no constitution because of its clear and obvious religious based favoring a part of the population. A Jewish State obviously means in the minds of Israeli Jews, that the Jews there also in future will have superior rights and legal means for performing Apartheid. That is difficult to put in any constitution. “Sadly” equality means in the constitution something.

        There have been until lately also among the most successful real democracies, countries, which have had a state religion. Protestant Christian nations, countries like Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland. What has made and makes Israel an anomaly in the reference group to which it wants to be included, the western democracies, is that Israel has numerous laws and state level procedures, which allow a group of citizens have superior legal rights simply on the basis of their religion. Despite the state religion in Christian democracies the citizens in those countries have had same equal legal rights and protection despite of their personal religious views, something that in Israel has not existed and obviously will not exist in future.

        The increasing moral problem for all Jews will be the growing contradiction how they treat minorities in the country where they are the majority and how they want to be treated as a tiny minority in other countries. What to say to a European nationalist who wants their Jews to be treated in the same way and with same rules as Israeli Arab citizens are “enjoying” in the Jewish State?

        1. The Constitution does not depend on borders but the two are linked to the goal of more space/less gentiles. I do like @SimoHurtta’s framing of the Jewish problem with Israel; however, hypocrisy never slowed Zionism in the past.

  2. Good analysis of Haaretz, Richard. one I must agree with.

    I wonder how many readers they have lost this past year since they went the NYTs model, now made more draconian by limiting the articles to just 5 free per month. Why indeed should I subscribe to haaretz given the distinctly centrist, ho-ham, liberal-zionist direction of the paper? what is there for me to read other than Levy and Hass, and those only when I’m ready to get seriously depressed for a while.

    It is sad, but Haretz is now a shadow of its former state, a time when “left” was not bandied about as a dirty word.

    I found Schchen’s tweet to you arather sad admission of a rather dismal state of affaires.

  3. Yes, Shocken and Haaretz are far from perfect and the paper lost its former glory — but still you got it all wrong. Haaretz is actually the last newspaper in Israel. All the others are just like this blog; representing a singular and fundementalist view of the world, with no room for any variety or criticism. Schoken is very right in his attempt to address the part of Israel that still is and believe in a constitutional democracy, and convince them that supporting Haaretz is a good way to stand their ground against the messianic part of the Israeli population. You are not an Israeli and you therefore cannot see this discussion and fight for what it is — and that’s before factoring your personality for which I suspect one probably needs a clinical background. I am an Israeli with plenty of criticism of what the country is going through and its trajectory, but unlike you, I’m capable to see color and not just the black and white color of hatred.

    1. @ Franklymydear:

      Yes, Shocken and Haaretz are far from perfect and the paper lost its former glory — but still you got it all wrong.

      If I got right that Shocken & Haaretz are far from perfect & lost their former glory then I can’t have gotten it all wrong, can I?

      Haaretz is actually the last newspaper in Israel.

      Haaretz may be the best newspaper in Israel but that’s not necessarily saying very much for it. Further, Yediot has some excellent reporters and colummists though as a whole it does leave a lot to be desired.

      All the others are just like this blog; representing a singular and fundementalist view of the world

      Which “fundamentalism” do I espouse? Or are you claiming progressivism is now a religion?

      no room for any variety or criticism.

      What you mean is that I don’t entertain all the bromides & pablum you cherish in your particular brand of liberal Zionism.

      Schoken is very right in his attempt to address the part of Israel that still is and believe in a constitutional democracy,

      Which “part” is that? The few stragglers who haven’t yet realized the Labor Party no longer rules and socialist Zionism is a thing of the past? Those few hundred or perhaps few thousand? You do realize that every Israeli poll shows that the majority of Israelis actually reject most democratic values? So who are you & Haaretz appealing to? What’s left (not in the political sense)?

      You are not an Israeli and you therefore cannot see this discussion and fight for what it is

      What a load of smokin’ bullshit that passes for argument.

      I am an Israeli

      Whoa, Charley…your IP address resolves to New Jersey. So you claim to be an Israeli, yet live in NJ, & are gonna tell me what I don’t know about Israel? Really? Is that how you want to play this game, you yored hypocrite!?

      that’s before factoring your personality for which I suspect one probably needs a clinical background.

      That’s what the rhetoricians among us call an ad hominem argument. That is, argument based on insult rather than substance. That’s a violation of my comment rules. You pull that shit again & you’ll be outa here. Now, if you ever plan to write another word here you go read the comment rules and follow them. I wrote them for jerks like you.

      1. It seems your reply to my comment is proof enough if its accuracy; it elicited the kind of emotion and vocabulary that’s authentic and indicative of your condition. I won’t return to your site so do feel free to apply your comment rules. Perhaps you should also consider enforcing the rules on your own text.

        And for the rhetoricians amongst your readers, Ad Hominem Tu Quoque.

      2. [comment deleted for comment rule violation–comments must be substantive and contain a political point]

    2. “part of Israel that still is and believe in a constitutional democracy,” — Israel as a “constitutional democracy” is as axiomatically impossible as a four-sided triangle. Where is this “constitution???” This “part of Israel” doesn’t exist.

  4. I am a subscriber and avid reader of Haaretz, but have only been so for about a year and therefor have no idea what it might have been at one time. It is such a refreshing change from what can be read in the leading U.S. papers that I would feel seriously uninformed about Israel were I to go without it. The paper challenges authority on a level that the NYT, WSJ and WPost would never attempt.

    I too, thought the appeal for readership was bizarre, but only because it was couched in nationalism, not the pursuit of truth which is what journalism is (should be) all about. I was disappointed to see Haaretz feeling the need to fall back on something from which it should distance itself (as should American papers).

  5. I don’t understand how Amos or for that matter anyone in Israel does not jump and do as they are told when you sit in Seattle and tell them what to do. I mean, it’s clear you know better than anyone in the security education, press, etc etc how to do what they do and how to run Israel. Your sense of your so-called importance and knowledge could not be more inflated.

    1. @ djf: Not so. Israeli Supreme Court justice Michael Cheshin did not accept the argument advanced by Aharon Barak that Israeli has a de facto unwritten constitution. BTW, there are many claims Israel makes about itself that are only accepted in Israel and roundly rejected outside Israel.

      If Israel has a constitution, why would Chief Justice Meir Shamgar propose in 1973 that Israel convene the constitutional assembly it had scheduled in 1948, but which was never held? And why was that assembly never held? And since it was never held, why should we credit Israel with having something it never delivered?

      Further, if you look at the Basic Laws, they do not have the same legal standing as the U.S. constitution since they sometimes aren’t enforced or the authorities refuse to enforce them. Some Basic Laws are violated virtually every day, tacitly if not explicitly.

      1. Israel is no more or less a constitutional democracy than the United Kingdom:

        “The constitution of the United Kingdom is the sum of laws and principles that make up the body politic of the United Kingdom. It concerns both the relationship between the individual and the state, and the functioning of the legislature, the executive and judiciary. Unlike many other nations, the UK has no single constitutional document. This is sometimes expressed by stating that it has an uncodified or “unwritten” constitution.[1] Much of the British constitution is embodied in written documents, within statutes, court judgments and treaties. The constitution has other unwritten sources, including parliamentary constitutional conventions.”

        1. Israel doesn’t have that form of constitution, it doesn’t have that history so integral to national identity. That’s exactly the problem with the Zionist project: There is no history of a people in a place in continuous development. This sort of in situ history is missing: It is the gaping hole in the Zionist fantasy of national identity.

        2. @ dcdoc1: Legal experts who’ve written on this subject note that the UK has foundational documents which define the legal relationship between government and citizen including the Magna Carta and other important laws passed by the Commons. These documents aren’t just aspirational like the Israeli Declaration of Independence. They are binding contracts between the governed and those who govern.

          Israel has no such foundational documents. The Basic Laws aren’t enforceable or enforced in many cases. Some of the Basic Laws weren’t even passed in full due to opposition from the Orthodox parties.

          So we’re left with Israel claiming it is a democracy, but having nothing like the unwritten constitution the UK has.

          Also, if Israel had even a de factor constitution as the UK does, legal figures as august as Meir Shamgar (former chief justice) and Prof. Uriel Reichman wouldn’t have repeatedly called for the failed constitutional assembly scheduled for 1948 to be reconvened.

          Nice try though.

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