Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Navon - Protecting Israeli Democracy from the NIF

Emmanuel Navon
For the Sake of Zion
25 October '11


Israel’s social protest died out with the opening of the school year. Earlier this month, the Israeli Government approved the recommendations of the Trachtenberg Committee, which include far-reaching measures aimed at easing the burden of the middle class and at making life in Israel more affordable. Yet it would be misleading to believe that the social unrest is behind us. In fact, the self-appointed leaders of last summer’s tent protest announced that they will renew their struggle after the High Holidays.

For a start, they rejected in toto the recommendations of the Trachtenberg Committee. Daphni Leef, who emerged as one of the movement’s iconic leaders, has declared that there would be a popular general strike on November 1st to shut down Israel’s economic activity and to topple the government. Two days before the strike, a huge demonstration is supposed to take place throughout the country as a “last warning” to the Prime Minister that he must meet the protesters’ demands. Eldad Yaniv, from the “National Left” movement, warned in Ha’aretz’s October 11 edition that the struggle will continue “until the 120 loafers [e.g. MKs] go home.”

The leaders of Israel’s social protest talk and behave as if Israel was not a democracy, and as if Israel’s government had not been elected by a large majority. They claim that most Israelis support their demand. Let them prove that in the next elections. For better or worse, democracy grants power to the people. In representative democracy, the majority runs the government for a set period of time. By trying to impose their demands on an elected government, the unelected representatives of the social protest are breaking the rules of democracy.

Israelis rightly complain about the cost of life, but in the previous elections they did not choose a government whose platform was to overspend and to turn Israel into Greece. Yet this is precisely what the unelected leaders of the social protest want to impose on our elected government. They have plenty of time (about a year-and-a-half) to convince Israelis to vote for them and their economic platform in the next elections. In the meantime, the choice of Israeli voters, as it was expressed in the previous elections, must be respected.

Not only are the leaders of the social protest breaking one of the basic rules of representative democracy, but many of them are funded by organizations (such as the New Israel Fund) whose agenda is to promote policies and values that are rejected by a majority of Israeli society. The New Israel Fund (NIF) deceives its donors by presenting itself an organization bent on promoting the rights of minorities and on helping the poor, but its true agenda is to turn Israel into a multi-ethnic (rather than Jewish) country. The NIF supports the Israeli organizations that constantly petition the High Court of Justice to repeal laws that define and preserve Israel as a Jewish state. In Court, the Government is represented by the State Attorney’s Office which has been staffed over the years by former NIF fellows who defend the petitioners rather than the Government.

The NIF’s subversive tactics consist in progressively imposing upon Israelis what they reject at the polls. It should come as no surprise that George Soros is a major NIF donor. Or that Stanley Greenberg, whose firm has done work for George Soros’ “Open Society Institute,” consulted to Ehud Barak in 1999 on how unseat Netanyahu and is now advising Eldad Yaniv with the same purpose. It should come as no surprise that Daniel Abraham, who helped George Soros set-up “J-Street,” gave money to Israel’s “tent protest” this past summer. And it should come as no surprise that Daphni Leef works for the New Israel Fund.

Promoting ideas and policies that provide an alternative to the Government is a fundamental right (and even a duty) in democracy, and this fundamental right obviously applies to Daphni Leef and to the NIF. But there is a difference between promoting a political agenda in an open society, and trying to impose such an agenda against the will of the majority via foreign funding, orchestrated strikes, and legal antics. For the sake of Israeli democracy, everything must be done so that Daphni Leef can express and promote her ideas freely, but everything must also be done to prevent her financial backers from trying to impose upon Israeli society policies and ideas that are rejected by the majority.

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