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Judaism and Democracy for Israel

By Moshe Feiglin

One of our ideas was to block Israel’s major Tel-Aviv – Jerusalem highway in the Latrun area. It was summer, 5755 (1995) and the Zo Artzeinu movement that I headed was set to block major roads throughout Israel in an attempt to stop Oslo in its track. We were on the lookout for creative ways to get the public to understand the dangers of the impending collapse. We pored over maps of Israel and found the point where the broad Tel-Aviv – Jerusalem highway exits the boundaries of the “Green Line” and cuts through “Occupied Territory.” Our idea was to declare a new state there.

I was reminded of that episode when I heard of the Israel High Court decision to allow Arabs from Judea and Samaria to travel on highway 443, another major artery between Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem.

I don’t understand why everybody is so upset. After all, immediately upon retiring from his position as Chief Justice of the High Court, Aharon Barak hurried to explain that he does not see Israel as a Jewish state, but rather, as a state of all its citizens. If that is so, how can we prevent Arabs from traveling on highway 443 on an ethnic basis? Furthermore, this distressing decision is not the first of its kind. What is the difference between highway 443 and road 557, where Meir Chai, may G-d avenge his blood, was recently murdered after the road was opened to Arab traffic? 443 is in the “occupied territories” and so is 557. Israelis travel on 443 and they travel on 557. If road 557 is opened to the Arabs of Shechem and Tul Karem even though it is clear that it will lead to the murder of Israelis, why is 443 any different?

From a purely judicial standpoint and according to the principles that Israel’s courts have established, the High Court decision is logical and predictable. But let us admit the truth. The reason that the issue created such uproar is because, unlike road 557 that only endangers “settlers,” highway 443 serves the illusion that the “Separation Fence” along its route provides the Israelis inside with a protected space. And then the High Court comes along and reminds all the Israelis traveling the modern highway between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem that they, too, are nothing more than “settlers.”

If Justices Beinish and Fogelman had anticipated the public outrage with their decision, they may have decided otherwise. It seems that from the heights of their enlightened ivory tower, they do not really perceive the depth of disgust that the High Court has created in ever-widening spheres of the general public.

But even if public pressure would calm the enlightened gang down a bit, on an essential level, we would not have solved anything. The outrageous 443 decision is no more than the symptom of a deep, core disease that has no connection to particular justices. It is not Aharon Barak and it is not Dorit Beinish; it is the fact that despite our declaration of independence in 1948, we have continued to burden ourselves with the judicial system and ethics of the nations.

Sadly, Israel’s courts endanger Jews today while vigilantly guarding the human rights of their enemies. This is the natural consequence of the fact that our judicial system is based on British and Turkish values – and certainly not on Jewish values.

The State of Israel needs a Jewish constitution that clearly determines its destiny, its character and the human rights that it affords. It must be a constitution appropriate to a Jewish state that strives to live by the principles of the Torah and the ethics of the prophets. We have been trained to think that Israel must be Jewish and democratic, as if there is a contradiction between the two. We have been trained to think that it is the rule of law gang that protects us from the clutches of Judaism. But just the opposite is true.

The State of Israel after the judicial revolution of Barak and the media rating- swamp is neither Jewish nor democratic. Israel has turned into a post-democratic authoritarian state. Only a truly Jewish state can afford its citizens true liberty. Israel is democratic because it is Jewish. As it loses its Jewish character, its citizens lose their liberty.

Israel’s Jewish constitution must institute district elections, as is common practice in the vast majority of democracies in the world. In that way, Israel’s communities will be revived. (They were all united into one large socialist collective when the state was born). Every community will decide on its Jewish public character. There is no doubt that the absolute majority of communities will choose to preserve their Jewish identity. Even the residents of predominantly secular Ramat Aviv preferred closing their local mall on Shabbat – once they were finally asked.

The legislature will choose, according to clear criteria, a forum from among its members. This forum will act as the Constitutional High Court and will have the last word on questions that regard the nature of the state and its borders. This will restore the sovereignty that was deviously robbed by the judicial system and the media to the nation.

The constitution will clarify that the borders of Israel as delineated in the Torah are the natural borders of the State of Israel. On Egyptian maps, the Israeli city of Eilat still appears as the Egyptian town of Um Rashrash. That did not prevent Egypt from signing a peace treaty with Israel. In Jordan the death penalty is still on the books for a person found guilty of selling land to a Jew. But that has not disrupted the civil relations between Jordan and Israel. Which all goes to show that it is possible to conduct normal foreign relations without bending our basic principles – if we truly desire to do so.

The constitution will include a law of return for land. Every part of the Promised Land that will fall into our hands as a result of the aggression of our neighbors will be immediately annexed under full Israeli sovereignty. The solution for the non-Jewish populace that does not accept the full sovereignty of the Jewish nation over its Land is the encouragement of emigration in an orderly and respectable fashion.

Among other things, this constitution will bring peace. The other option is to continue to watch how the British and Turkish sovereignty over our judicial system – the life-breath of our nation – continuously expands to the open spaces of our lives. From road 557 to highway 443 and from highway 443 to Israel’s main traffic artery,
Highway 1.

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