Thursday, July 15, 2010

Winner Takes All, Losers Be Damned

Jameel at the Muqata has an interesting post about Israeli democracy.  I sent a short comment:

There's something very dangerous in the "winner takes all" philosophy/mentality here in Israel. It's like the american electoral college. The majority rules by totally overriding the minority even if it's just a 51% to 49% vote.
The winner or boss as dictator.

Quite often there's abuse at the workplace, because the boss is considered a god-like king. "If you don't like it, leave."

When Yitzchak Rabin was elected Prime Minister, he made it clear that he considered himself Prime Minister to those who supported him. His followers made it clear that those who opposed his policies were thereby disloyal to the State of Israel. That's the mentality, culture here in Israel. It gets very frightening.

We're now in the "Nine Days" when we mourn the destruction of our Holy Temple in Jerusalem which happened in ancient times. Many of us also mourn the implementation of Disengagement which has many of the same dates though thousands of years later.

During the time leading up to Disengagement, its supporters insisted that the fact that it was passed in the Knesset gave it a "holiness" and refused to debate the moral pros and cons. To them the highest morality was that it was government policy, passed by law. The laws from the politicians in the Knesset mean/meant more to them than the laws G-d gave us.

The same people who have been lobbying for the children of illegal foreign workers to stay here, because it would be too traumatic to send them away from their birth places, the homes they know and schools they know etc even though their parents were breaking Israeli law for years, had absolutely no problem dragging Israeli citizens of all ages from their legal homes. They see/saw no contridiction, no moral dilemma in retroactively declaring legally bought and built Jewish homes illegal.

Chazal, our sages say that the great sin which caused the destruction of the Holy Temple was the dispicable behavior between Jews. We haven't learned the lesson yet.


goyisherebbe said...

Winner take all can be looked at in two ways. It can be the consequence of an electoral system, such as the electoral college method of electing the President of the United States, or of a culture. The Israeli electoral system, being parliamentary and with proportional representation, looked at formally seems to be very distant from winner-take-all. But let's take a case where you get close to a majority and then buy off a couple of legislators with the promise of personal benefits such as being appointed deputy minister. THEN you add the culture which treats conciliation and compromise as a sign of weakness rather than openness. Put them all together and you have the epitome of winner takes all. Sorry, I won and you lost. Now add to this a judiciary which is in cahoots with the particular gang that sort-of won the election, and don't even think of the other side getting a fair shake. The United States established a constitution with a president, two houses of Congress and separation of powers. In the early 19th century the Latin American countries toppled their Spanish colonial governments and proceeded to produce constitutions which were pretty much the Spanish translations of the American ones. But instead of a literate and conciliatory society, they had a mostly feudal one, in which El Presidente was a dictator on a white horse who dictated rather than reconcile. The rich landholders or their representatives sat in Congress and the peasants were illiterate. The parliamentary systems of Europe should be interesting to behold when the Muslim population goes up some more. Conversely, with a large American aliya, Israel could have a very different political culture.

Batya said...

Yes, goyish, our concept of democracy is American, while many of our fellow Israelis come from dictatorships, totalitarian regimes, so they understand it as "elect your dictator."

Tzipporah said...

And this mentality is precisely what so infuriates American Jews from liberal traditions, when the issue of religion and state come up.

Batya said...

If you want to fix it, one must join rather than criticize from afar.