Israel’s Unprogressive Tea Party

By Paul Eidleberg

Going back to the original, the Boston Tea Party was the culmination of a resistance movement throughout British America against the Tea Act, which had been passed by the British Parliament in 1773. Colonists objected to the Tea Act for a variety of reasons, especially because they believed that it violated their right to be taxed only by their own elected representatives. The Boston Tea Party was a key event in the development of the American Revolution began near Boston in 1775.

Recall its famous slogan, “No taxation without representation.” This slogan is quite applicable to the people of Israel. The highly taxed citizens of this so-called democracy have had no real representation ever since the founding of the State 62 years ago. As I have often explained, Israel’s government makes the entire county a single electoral district. This compels citizens to vote for fixed party lists—really party oligarchs—and not for individual candidates. As a consequence, members of the Knesset are not individually accountable to the voters in regional elections. I am referring to geographical districts the size of which would make the voters more familiar with the character and abilities of the elected, while making the elected more familiar with the needs, opinions, and interests of their electors.

That the Tea Party is opposed to territorial retreat and the creation of an Arab Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria is of course commendable. But it hasn’t the foggiest notion of how to accomplish this objective, which a complete overhaul of the SYSTEM of government that has brought Israel to its present existential crisis. From the Tea Party we will get more of the old propaganda, more of the old like newspaper ads, more of the old demonstrations, to which add one or two futile conferences at some hotel in Jerusalem. Typically absent is a program of structural reform to preclude the path of treason on which the present government is treading.

If the Tea Party was serious, it would arouse the people by telling them the truth that Israel is not a genuine democracy. Israel is living a lie that only serves the interests of its ruling elites. While the Knesset may not be as far away as London, its members might as well be on the moon. It’s a demonstrable fact that Israel’s political parties—religious as well as non-religious—repeatedly betray the trust their voters. A few examples must suffice.

Against its pledge to the nation during the 1992 election campaign, the Labor Party engaged in negotiations with PLO in contravention of Israeli law. In that same election, the religious Shas Party, which had pledged it would not join a Labor-Meretz government, did so for government perks and positions. These betrayals of the voters precipitated the Oslo Agreement of 1993 and the subsequent murder and maiming of thousands of Jews.

In 1999, no less than 29 MKs betrayed their voters in the democratic state of Israel by hopping over to rival parties. But the prize for political betrayal in the only democracy in the Middle East belongs to the Likud Party, known by some fools as “the trunk of the nation.” In 2003, the Likud adopted the Labor Party’s policy of “unilateral disengagement” from Gaza, a policy the Likud had campaigned against, indeed, a policy rejected by at least 70 percent of the voters.

Returning to the Tea Party, one of its two organizers, whose name I deign to ignore, not only opposed direct personal election of Knesset members in regional elections—the practice of almost every democracy—but he also opposed raising the electoral threshold from 1.5 to 2 percents, a threshold that makes it impossible to form a majority government. Instead we have Israel’s divisive, irresolute, and corrupt system of multiparty cabinet government—a form of government that has enabled the United States to interfere more readily in the making of Israel’s foreign policies.

Yet the leaders of the Tea Party are called “nationalists”! They seem more concerned about making it easier for party hacks to enter the Knesset and stay there.

If Israel’s Tea Party was a genuine nationalist movement, it would want to make the PEOPLE sovereign, and for starters, this can only be done by making MKs individually accountable to the voters in multidistrict elections.

Other serious reforms are required to empower the people of Israel, which I have discussed innumerable times in articles, books, and in radio interviews. So I can’t get excited about the Tea Party. It needs a leadership that has not been compromised by being part of the SYSTEM. It lacks a well-thought out program of political reform. We need something stronger than tea to save Israel from what is nothing less than a terminal disease.

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