There are few Israelis who are able to speak with more authority about Israel’s dysfunctional government than Dr. Paul Eidelberg. For more than three decades, Dr. Eidelberg has been “the voice of one crying in the wilderness,” imploring Israel’s leaders to draft the nation’s first Constitution and replace the current system of Proportional Representation with individual elections for each member of the Knesset.
Not one to pull his punches or restrain his abundant intellect when speaking about the survival of his beloved Israel, Dr. Eidelberg takes no prisoners as he discusses who is to blame for Israel’s lack of security and diminished status with the nations of the world:
“After studying the pronouncements and policies of Labor and Likud Governments since 1976, I have come to the serious and dismal conclusion that if the Labor Party represents ‘organized treachery,‘ the Likud Party Represents ‘organized hypocrisy.’ I have yet to decide which has been more damaging to the State of Israel.”
While many social critics constantly complain and offer few fresh ideas, Dr. Eidelberg has spent the last 35 years analyzing the problems with Israel’s system of government and proposing solutions. An American-Israeli political scientist, author and lecturer, Eidelberg is the founder and president of The Foundation for Constitutional Democracy. He wrote three groundbreaking books on America’s founding fathers: The Philosophy of the American Constitution, On the Silence of the Declaration of Independence, and a Discourse on Statesmanship.
After witnessing the chaos and confusion that emanates from Israel’s current political establishment, Dr. Eidelberg authored detailed proposals for political reform and drafted the first Constitution for the State of Israel. Although the document was well received by some members of the Knesset, Israel’s political elite have largely ignored Dr. Eidelberg’s work. They are happy with the status quo and they have chosen to forego the opportunity to become a true democracy “of the people, by the people and for the people.”
Israel is the free world’s last outpost in the Middle East and her survival is an imperative for anyone who loves freedom and democracy. Should Israel fall, there would be nothing to stop the establishment of a new Islamic Caliphate from the Mediterranean to Asia and the forces of tyranny would be poised to overrun Europe.
As one of the leading voices for Constitutional reform in Israel, we invited Dr. Eidelberg to visit The Inquisitr for an in-depth interview about the current state of affairs in Israel and to tell us what must be done to protect and preserve the one safe haven on this earth for the Jewish people.
Wolff Bachner: Dr. Eidelberg, welcome to The Inquisitr.
Before we get into the specifics of our discussion, please explain to our readers why you decided to leave the United States and make Aliyah to Israel?
Dr. Paul Eidelberg: In my first visit to Israel, I learned that its political system of multiparty cabinet government was dysfunctional. This system violated the basic principles set forth in The Federalist Papers, the most important commentary on the American Constitution the great English Prime Minister William Gladstone (1809-1898) regarded as “the most wonderful work [on statesmanship] ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man.” Since the subject of my doctoral dissertation and first book was on the Constitution, I felt I might facilitate some urgent reforms of Israel’s political system which was dis-empowering the people and undermining Israel’s survival.
Wolff Bachner: Paul, I would imagine that people would be stunned to discover that Israel does not have a Constitution.
How has the state of Israel managed to function as a democratic nation for 65 years without a Constitution?
Dr. Paul Eidelberg: Any authentic constitution affects the relationship between the rulers and the ruled. But for the ruled—the people—to affect public policy—they must have a majority party that represents them in the Legislature. Israel has never had anything close to a majority party! The people have been fragmented by the seemingly democratic principle of Proportional Representation with a low electoral threshold (today only 2 percent). This multiplies parties like mushrooms. Each of the last two elections fielded 33 parties!!!
As a consequence, every Israeli government has consisted of a coalition of 5 or 6 or more parties. This makes it virtually impossible to pursue coherent national polices. But this means that what are naively called the “people” are not a people but a conglomeration of diverse economic and ethnic and ideological groups competing with each other for a larger slice of the public treasury!
Wolff Bachner: How did you become involved in the attempt to reform Israel’s chaotic system of government?
Dr. Paul Eidelberg: I was invited by a member of a Knesset party to present my proposals for constitutional reform. My proposal for a presidential system was accepted by the leader of that party. However, my more provocative proposal, to make MKs individually elected by and accountable to the people in district or geographic-constituency election, was ignored. Why? Because it is widely believed, without serious investigation—and certainly without concern for Israel’s long term interests—that constituency elections would result in a decline in the number of seats won by that party, as well as by the religious parties whose support might be needed to form a government. In the final analysis, any method which affects the relation between the rulers and the ruled; hence it’s a question of power. I wanted to shift power from parties to the people, whereas the leaders of the parties wanted to maximize their own power. Aristotle taught this 2,400 years ago; and so did the Americans in 1987.
Wolff Bachner: Didn’t you also draft a proposed constitution for Israel. What became of that project?
Dr. Paul Eidelberg: I drafted a Constitution for Israel in 1994 on my own initiative. I went to the States in 1995 to rally support from Zionist organizations. I got none. Why not? Zionist organizations get money from donors who believe that Israel is the “only democracy” in the Middle East. Along comes Eidelberg, a fairly well-known University of Chicago political scientist, who tells audiences that Israel is Not a genuine democracy. That’s enough to close the door on Eidelberg, notwithstanding his ideas about how to make Israel more democratic by Jewish means, and more Jewish by democratic means!
Wolff Bachner: Dr. Eidelberg, what are some of the most serious flaws in Israel’s political system?
Dr. Paul Eidelberg: Despite the fact that the Likud Party won more than 70 percent of the votes in February 2003, when it campaigned against the Labor Party’s policy of unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, Likud Prime Minister Ariel Sharon adopted Labor’s policy and thus effectively nullified that 2003 election! Moreover, in October of the following year, the Knesset “legitimated” Sharon’s coup by enacting the “Gaza Evacuation Law,” thanks to the votes of 23 Likud MKs who thus betrayed their February 2003 election pledges to the nation…
Sharon’s nullification of the 2003 election was actually political coup d’etat. Add the spiritual coup that Prime Minister Netanyahu pulled four months after the March 2009 election. In June of that year, Netanyahu, without Knesset or public debate (and contrary to his own Likud Party’s constitution), endorsed the creation of an Arab Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria, the cradle of Jewish civilization! So much for Proportional Representation, exalted as one of the blessings of democracy…
The fact that almost every democracy on the planet manages to conduct its public business by means of multi-geographic- constituency elections should dispel the fiction that Israel cannot function well or justly without its existing system. The truth is that 65 years of this “system” has engendered the shoddiest politics. In the 1999 elections, 29 Knesset Members hopped over to rival parties in order to obtain safe seats! Israel’s political “system” is a disgrace as well as a disaster, and only the ignorant along with self-serving politicians want to preserve it!”
Wolff Bachner: How does Israel’s system of government differ from that of the United States, for example?
Dr. Paul Eidelberg: First and foremost, the 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives are individually elected by and accountable to the voters in district elections. Any incumbent seeking reelection is “open game” for a rival candidate, who can readily expose the incumbent’s past record—his faults or his failure to keep his campaign pledges. No such thing exists in Israel. Shimon Peres served more than four decades in the Knesset without any rival for his seat. It matters not that Peres was the prime mover of the Oslo Agreement, and it matters not who is at the helm today. Despite the 15,000 casualties resulting from Oslo, PM Netanyahu remains in power. Why? Because he heads the Likud list of candidates, which guarantees his remaining in power.
It should also be emphasized no Israeli PM has ever been removed from power by a Knesset vote of no confidence. The Knesset is only a cipher of the Government. Likud MKs dare not vote no-confidence because that would result in new elections, which may cost an incumbent Likudnik his job. This means that Israeli Prime Ministers can ignore public opinion with impunity—and they have done so repeatedly since Oslo 1993.
Wolff Bachner: What specific changes should be made to Israel’s political structure to prevent elected officials from betraying the will of the electorate and to restore sanity and stability to the various institutions of government?
Dr. Paul Eidelberg: The only way to do this is to replace Proportional Representation of parties by making its members—hence MKs—individually elected by and accountable to the voters in constituency elections—the practice (in my last study) of 80 out of 84 democracies.
Wolff Bachner: You have also expressed great concern about the Justices of the Supreme Court of Israel, who have become a law unto themselves, acting without restraint to limit the authority of Israel’s elected officials as they reshape the nation to suit their own far left, post-Zionist ideology.
Israel claims to be the only democracy in the Middle East, yet it sounds as if you are describing a judicial dictatorship in which the legislature, the executive branch and the voters are largely irrelevant. How did Israel’s judicial coup d’état occur?
Dr. Paul Eidelberg: Israel has not only flawed politicians but also flawed political institutions—and this includes Israel’s Supreme Court which has usurped legislative and executive powers of government by its pernicious and unparalleled dictum that “everything is negotiable.” This dictum gives the Court the power to negate the cherished values of the Jewish people–and it has done so!
The lack in Israel of a Constitution that defines the Legislative as well as the Executive powers of the Government renders the range of these powers extremely vague—so much so that the PEOPLE have no idea of what is permissible or impermissible. Even law professors find it difficult to distinguish a basic law from ordinary legislation. But here’s the coup de grace. In 1992, a coup d’état occurred in Israel without the public having the vaguest idea of what was in store for the Jewish state.
In that year the Knesset enacted Basic Law: Human Freedom and Dignity. This so-called basic law was enacted by the absurd vote of 32-21, i.e., with less than half of the Knesset’s membership voting! This was an act of judicial despotism for which Israel may thank the Court’s President Aharon Barak— famous or infamous for his dictum “everything is justiciable.”
How has this unparalleled judicial dictum played out? Contrary to previous Supreme Court decisions, and contrary to objective international law, Judge Barak ruled that Judea, Samaria, and Gaza constitute “belligerent occupied territory.” This decision was a pure fabrication, since no state other than Israel had any legal claim to this land—a claim affirmed by the 1920 San Remo Conference.
Here let me digress for a moment, while the aroma of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry still affects Israel’s atmosphere. The San Remo Conference incorporated the Balfour Declaration. So did the 1925 Anglo-American Accord, which was ratified by the United States Senate and subsequently proclaimed by President Calvin Coolidge on December 5, 1925. This treaty remains in force to this day as the supreme law of the land. Mr. Kerry’s advocacy of an Arab state in Eretz Israel constitutes a clear violation of that treaty, hence of the American Constitution! But we were speaking of Israel’s Supreme Court.
Wolff Bachner: How are the Justices of the Supreme Court able to get away with their undemocratic conduct?
Dr. Paul Eidelberg: It should first be understood that the Justices can only get away with their undemocratic conduct because the Knesset condones this evil. Most of the Justices are “Post Zionists” and cannot be accused of being very Jewish oriented. This may also be said of the Knesset, which voted against abrogating the Oslo Agreement. But many MKs supporters would be alienated if these MKs conspicuously supported Oslo. Enter the Supreme Court whose judges are garbed in black and thereby color Oslo with a dignity lacking most Knesset Members, who often shout at each other. And this it is that many of the half-hearted Jews in the Knesset—of MKs without chests—let the oh-so-dignified robed justices of the Court to do their dirty work for them.
Wolff Bachner: What can be done to restore the balance of power between the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of government and put an end to the judicial despotism that is destroying Israel’s democracy?
Dr. Paul Eidelberg: Here is my (second best) proposal. Let the Prime Minister, advised by a council learned in secular and Jewish law, nominate Supreme Court judges; and let the nominations be subject to the approval of 60 percent vote of the Knesset’s membership, but only after the nominees have been vetted in public session as is done when the Senate of the United States is charged with approving presidential nominations to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Wolff Bachner: You reserved perhaps your greatest criticism for the current Israeli Prime Minister, Bibi Netanyahu, and the office of Prime Minister/ President. How are Israel’s Leaders contributing to the political chaos in the Jewish state?
Dr. Paul Eidelberg: Israel’s system of governance has produced what eminent people in Israel—Left and Right—call a “Courtocracy.” But Israel is also a hidden “presidential autocracy,” that produced the 1993 Oslo Agreement which has thus far led to the 15,000 Jewish casualties resulting from that left-wing agreement—an illicit agreement Netanyahu dare not expose without incriminating those responsible for its continuation as guilty of treason as defined by Israel’s Penal Code, Section 97.
Wolff Bachner: In what way is the Oslo agreement illicit and treasonous and who should be charged with treason specifically?
Dr. Paul Eidelberg: The best answer I know of is in the writings of the late Howard Grief, a Canadian-born Israeli attorney, summarized in “THE REAL LAWBREAKERS” by Boris Shusteff.
Editors Note: In his stunning indictment of Prime Minister Sharon’s decision to unilaterally evacuate Gaza and uproot thousands of Israelis, Shusteff quoted an article by Howard Grief:
“Sharon’s actions fall into the category of actions ‘that constitute the crime of treason under Section 97(a) of the Penal Code. In fact, the mere intention to withdraw from any area under the sovereignty of the State of Israel is enough to constitute the crime of treason under sections 97(b) and 100 of the Penal Code.’”
It should also be mentioned that Howard Grief was the author of the “Petition to Annul the Interim Agreement” presented to Israel’s Supreme Court in 1999. Grief was convinced that the agreements between Israel and the PLO were illegal both under constitutional and criminal Israeli law. The Supreme Court deemed the petition “a political position” and refused to hear the case.
Wolff Bachner: Recently, Prime Minister Netanyahu outraged most Israelis when he decided to release 104 Arab terrorists, many of whom were serving life sentences and have Jewish blood on their hands, in order to get the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table.
Even after Netanyahu ripped the heart out of every Israeli who has ever lost a family member or friend to terrorism, the Palestinians were not satisfied. Mahmoud Abbas AKA Abu Mazin, the financier of the Munich Massacre of Israel’s Olympic team and now Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, warned the world that “there will not be an agreement with Israel even if one prisoner remains behind bars.” Put simply, every single Palestinian terrorist must go free or there will be no deal. And these are the people who are supposed to be Israel’s “peace partners.”
Why is Netanyahu releasing Arab terrorists?
Dr. Paul Eidelberg: The answer is two-fold—a matter of courage and a matter of accountability. Leaving the matter of courage aside, the lack of political accountability is typical of Israel, and it may be attributed primarily to the lack of a solid Constitution. If Israel has a well-designed Constitution, Netanyahu would be held criminally negligent for failing to enforce the security provisions of the Wye River Memorandum which he signed, on October 23, 1998. Many hundreds of Jews have perished as a consequence
It will do little good to harp on Netanyahu’s flawed character. Nor will it do any good to attribute his less-than-heroic behavior to American pressure—the typical excuse of shallow commentators. Thoughtful and fair-minded individual would want to know “Why is Mr. Netanyahu so anxious to negotiate with the murderers of his people?” If he is not simply spineless, can it be that he simply lacks an alternative to surrender? Can it be that he is only animated by the bourgeois concern for security, hence, that he is just a nominal Jew—a carbon copy of the nominal Jews that re-established the state of Israel whose President today is Shimon Peres who, when asked why he lost the 1995 presidential election to Netanyahu he blamed the Jews in contradistinction to the Israelis? But who keeps Netanyahu in power if not the fools in both camps?
Wolff Bachner: Dr. Eidelberg, it would be remiss of me to conclude this interview without asking you about the alarming increase of Jew hate and anti-Israelism taking place in Europe. In many European cities, Jews are reluctant to walk down the street wearing a Kippah or a Star of David for fear of being physically attacked.
Making matters worse, traditional Jew hate, which is considered a hate crime in the European Union, is being cleverly disguised as criticism of Israel. Many Europeans have been quoted as saying, “I don’t hate Jews, I just hate Israel.”
What would you like to say to the people of Europe concerning the alarming rise in Jew hate?
Dr. Paul Eidelberg: The current explosion of Antisemitism in “post-Christian” Europe is another sign of insanity. Don’t Christians know that Jesus and the Virgin Mary were Jews? This means (as noted by Benjamin Disraeli) that while half of Christendom worships a Jewess, the other half worships a Jew. Christians should be reminded of this and what their spiritual founders (Jesus and Mary) would think of anti-Semites–that is, of Jew-haters!
Biography Of Dr. Paul Eidelberg – President of the Yamin Israel Party.
Political scientist, author and lecturer, Dr. Eidelberg is the co-founder and president of The Foundation For Constitutional Democracy with offices in Jerusalem and Washington, DC.
Dr. Eidelberg was born in Brooklyn, New York. From high school, he enlisted in the United States Air Force, where he held the rank of first lieutenant. He received his doctoral degree in political science at the University of Chicago. While studying at the University, he designed and constructed the electronics system for the first brain scanner used at the Argonne Cancer Research Hospital.
Dr. Eidelberg wrote a trilogy on the statesmanship of America’s founding fathers: On the Silence of the Declaration of Independence, The Philosophy of the American Constitution, and A Discourse on Statesmanship.
Eidelberg joined Israel’s Bar-Ilan University faculty in 1976. He has written several books on the Arab-Israel conflict and on Judaism: Demophrenia: Israel and the Malaise of Democracy provides a psychological analysis of Israel’s foreign policy. Jerusalem Versus Athens: In Quest of a General Theory of Existence and Beyond the Secular Mind: A Judaic Response to the Problems of Modernity (Contributions in Philosophy) apply Jewish concepts for an understanding of modern problems. Judaic Man develops concepts for a Jewish psychology and philosophy of history. His book, Jewish Statesmanship: Lest Israel Fall, provides the philosophical and institutional foundations for reconstructing the State of Israel.
Dr. Eidelberg is on the Editorial Board of Israel’s premier journal Nativ, as well as on the Advisory Council of the Ariel Center For Policy Research. He has written more than 1300 articles for newspapers and scholarly journals in the United States and Israel. Eidelberg has lectured before Israel’s Foreign Office and has written policy papers for various Knesset Members. He chaired a panel discussion on the topic “Why Israel Needs a Constitution” at the 1997 American Political Science Association conference in Washington, DC. He has drafted a Constitution for Israel, which has been published in Hebrew and Russian.
During the past few years, Dr. Eidelberg has been conducting lectures and seminars on constitutions, diverse parliamentary electoral systems, Jewish law, and related topics at the Jerusalem center of the Foundation for Constitutional Democracy and throughout Israel. His basic theme is: “How to make Israel more democratic by means of Jewish principles, and how to make Israel more Jewish by means of democratic principles.”
Introduction by and Interview conducted by Wolff Bachner for The Inquisitr. Copy Editing By Adina Kutnicki.