Monday, January 12, 2009

The Brilliant Decisions Continue

The Israeli Central Election Committee has voted to ban two Arab parties from competing in Parliamentary elections*:
Knesset spokesman Giora Pordes said the election committee voted overwhelmingly in favor of the motion, accusing the country's Arab parties of incitement, supporting terrorist groups and refusing to recognize Israel's right to exist. Arab lawmakers have traveled to countries listed among Israel's staunchest enemies, including Lebanon and Syria.

The 37-member committee is composed of representatives from Israel's major political parties. The measure was proposed by two ultranationalist parties but received widespread support.

My first thought upon reading this was vague recollection that this is not the first time the CEC had attempted to bar nationalist Arab parties, and each time their maneuver was struck down by the Israeli Supreme Court. My suspicion -- shared by OW commenters -- is that the same result will occur here. Thus far, the only Israeli political party successfully banned was the hyper-nationlist Kach Party, which was advocating expulsion of Israeli Arabs in the 1980s.

I doubt that the banned parties are comprised of folks or ideologies I'd be all that fond of. But that's true of a lot of political parties in Israel (and the United States, for that matter). Democracy means letting them run. The move by the CEC is anti-democratic, immoral, and worthy of strident condemnation. And yes, it threatens Israels claim to be the only liberal democracy in the Middle East (a false statement anyway, given Turkey, but it could until now claim to be amongst the few).

* I'm 90% sure that the CEC banned the parties specifically, rather than a race-based ban "Israeli-Arab parties" in general. A small consolation though, given that I believe these are the only two specifically Israeli-Arab parties running (Arabs are on the slate of several mainstream parties, and the Israeli Communist Party is relatively well-integrated between Jews and Arabs).

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