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Nate Silver should stop calling Israel a democracy

on 17 Comments

Today on WNYC, Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight described Israel as a democracy (rebroadcast from Dec. 21), right alongside the US and Britain.

We had pretty good polling in 2012, but in the 2014 midterms the polling was not great. In other countries there have been problems, in other democracies like Israel and the United Kingdom. So there definitely is reason to worry when it’s getting harder and harder to contact people by phone.

Silver should be aware that Israel’s governing coalition is all Jewish parties, under coalition-building guidelines driven by Israel’s “security” needs that exclude Palestinian parties. The government has only once had a coalition that included Palestinian parties and that was considered weak, it didn’t last long.

Palestinians make up 20 percent of Israel’s population of 8 million, but are not represented in the government. So the Israeli system is reminiscent of the American system in the South in the 1960s and earlier, when black representation was kept at a minimum.

In the picture of Netanyahu’s cabinet from last May, above, everyone is a Jew, with the exception of one Druze politician.

The makeup of the government is why some people call Israel an ethnocracy. Government lands are controlled for the use of Jews, the immigration policy discriminates in favor of Jews, barring Palestinians who once lived in the country; and there are many other laws that make Palestinians second-class citizens.

And yes, all democracies are flawed, but what makes the Israeli claim especially dubious is that the Israeli government rules another 5 million or so Palestinians in the occupied territories who haven’t had elections in nearly ten years and cannot vote for the government that controls their lives. Altogether, the number of Jews and Palestinians under Israeli rule are roughly 6 million and 6 million; but again, only Jews are in the government (with the exception of the Druze deputy minister of regional cooperation).

By the way, Silver’s website Five Thirty Eight blew the Israeli election last year– in sharp distinction to Nate Silver nailing the American election in 2012.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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17 Responses

  1. Les on January 1, 2016, 5:35 pm

    Of, by, and for European Jews exclusively from day 1 to the present, who rule over, not with, all others in and beyond its borders.

  2. Krauss on January 1, 2016, 9:34 pm

    Sidenote, have you guys seen this?

    http://en.institutomanquehue.org/publications/commentary/brazil-cancels-contract-israeli-security.html#sthash.uoSEfvwZ.sfju

    Seems the Israeli/Brazilian conflict is growing every day.

  3. ivri on January 2, 2016, 5:39 am

    When suggesting that Israel is not a democracy it is useful to take a glance around the world we live in, continent by continent, and check; (a) which country comes even close to the democracy`s definition and (b) if it does how it compares to Israel in this regard.
    It kind of provides a better appreciation of what Israel has managed to keep, in conditions that are immensely harder than most countries in the world face.

    • talknic on January 2, 2016, 9:55 am

      ivri “When suggesting that Israel is not a democracy…”

      Nothing here about democracy – “The state of Israel … will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel

      “it is useful to take a glance around the world we live in, continent by continent, and check; (a) which country comes even close to the democracy`s definition and (b) if it does how it compares to Israel in this regard”

      Supply the list

      “It kind of provides a better appreciation of … “

      It kind of provides nothing. You haven’t provided anything except wail gob

      “… what Israel has managed to keep, in conditions that are immensely harder than most countries in the world face”

      Yeh, managed to keep lying and keep occupying another people and their territory for 68 years sure is immensely hard

    • amigo on January 2, 2016, 10:28 am

      “When suggesting that Israel is not a democracy it is useful to take a glance around the world we live in,”ivri

      When trying to get off a speeding ticket, it is not useful to point out to a cop that others are driving faster than you.

      “It kind of provides a better appreciation of what Israel has managed to keep, in conditions that are immensely harder than most countries in the world face. ” ivri

      Yes , it has managed to “keep” lands it stole from others .

      Israel created those hard conditions.You don,t like them , then get the f— out of other peoples lands and stop committing War Crimes.You might find an improvement in your conditions.Try some other approach , for a change.

    • diasp0ra on January 2, 2016, 11:00 am

      @Ivri

      But Israel always presents itself as a “first world” democracy, that is who it should be compared to.

      Israelis and Zionists gush on and on about how advanced and progressive Israel is, but when it is faced with criticism the only answer is “It’s better than Saudi Arabia, so it’s okay!”.

      That’s not a defense.

      You can’t receive the privileges of being considered part of the “first world” but shirk all the responsibilities attached to it.

  4. Misterioso on January 2, 2016, 10:41 am

    Adi Ophir, professor of philosophy, Tel Aviv University: “…the adoption of the political forms of an ethnocentric and racist nation-state in general, are turning Israel into the most dangerous place in the world for the humanity and morality of the Jewish community, for the continuity of Jewish cultures and perhaps for Jewish existence itself.” (1998 issue of “Theory and Criticism,” published in Israel)

    Ronnie Kasrils, key player in the struggle against the former South African apartheid regime, minister for intelligence in the current government and a devout Jew: “The Palestinian minority in Israel has for decades been denied basic equality in health, education, housing and land possession, solely because it is not Jewish. The fact that this minority is allowed to vote hardly redresses the rampant injustice in all other basic human rights. They are excluded from the very definition of the ‘Jewish state’, and have virtually no influence on the laws, or political, social and economic policies. Hence, their similarity to the black South Africans [under apartheid].” (The Guardian, 25 May 2005)

    “Former Foreign Ministry director-general invokes South Africa comparisons. ‘Joint Israel-West Bank’ reality is an apartheid state” EXCERPT: “Similarities between the ‘original apartheid’ as it was practiced in South Africa and the situation in ISRAEL [my emphasis] and the West Bank today ‘scream to the heavens,’ added [Alon] Liel, who was Israel’s ambassador in Pretoria from 1992 to 1994. There can be little doubt that the suffering of Palestinians is not less intense than that of blacks during apartheid-era South Africa, he asserted.” (Times of Israel, February 21, 2013)

    Shlomo Gazit, retired IDF Major General: “[Israel’s] legal system that enforces the law in a discriminatory way on the basis of national identity, is actually maintaining an apartheid regime.” (Haaretz, July 19, 2011)

    “…EU broadside over plight of Israel’s Arabs”
    EXCERPT: “The confidential 27-page draft prepared by European diplomats… [shows] that Israeli Arabs suffer ‘economic disparities… unequal access to land and housing… discriminatory draft legislation and a political climate in which discriminatory rhetoric and practice go unsanctioned.'” (The Independent, Dec. 27/2011)

    The U.S. State Department’s report on International Religious Freedom: “Arabs in Israel…are subject to various forms of discrimination [and the government] does not provide Israeli Arabs…with the same quality of education, housing, employment opportunities as Jews.”

    • diasp0ra on January 2, 2016, 10:55 am

      @Mis

      Thank you for this collection of quotes. It seems that some Israelis do indeed recognize the nature of their state in how it runs occupied Palestine, inside and outside Israel.

  5. echinococcus on January 2, 2016, 1:11 pm

    Was the censoring of a short note, asking what’s the point of saying a Zionist “should” stop calling the Zionist entity a democracy, according to the published rules –the same ones allowing reams of Zionist propaganda? Just asking.

  6. genesto on January 2, 2016, 4:15 pm

    Blumenthal’s polling has been equal, or superior, to that of Silver in the past. However, while Silver is the ‘rock star’ that gets all the attention, Blumenthal has been relegated to the sidelines. I’m sure their opposing positions on Israel/Palestine has at least something to do with it (witness the mainstream media’s completely ignoring Blumenthal’s last two books that rightfully condemn Israel for its brutal treatment of the Palestinians and other minorities in Israel and the Occupied Territories).

  7. Yadja on January 5, 2016, 11:11 am

    Israel is the only Democracy in the ME. That is obvious. All nationalities, including Muslim live freely in Israel and are even included in the government.

    If my memory serves me Gazans opted to have Hamas, a terrorist organization that has within it’s Charter the demise of Israel to be an intricate part of their government. Now they Gazan people went to the UN after this last war to complain of being tortured and killed by Hamas during the last conflict.

    As to Palestine there is no such thing. Never has been. I am a student of Ancient History and the facts are a Roman named the area after the Philistines to insult the Jews. Gaza is a city and in 2006 it was named the third largest refugee camp in the world when Arabs and Jews were run off their lands by the Jordanians into Gaza City. The Jews left but the Arabs stayed and now they Occupy Gaza.

    Just think of all the refugee camps now in the ME and imagine if these millions of people demand a stateship to those lands.

    Israel is a Democracy and an Allie of the U.S. It is a Nation and has Sovereignty and the right to protect itself from bombs and those who wish to destroy it.

    Jews have had a presence in the Holy Lands for over 3,000 years. Muhammad born thousands of years after the Jews a Nation and hundreds after Christianity. There were no Muslims in the Holy Lands. None of the monuments and artifacts are Islamic. Those found daily in the Holy Lands by archaeologists are Jewish. The Jews were in the area since the iron ages.

    • diasp0ra on January 5, 2016, 12:33 pm

      “I am a student of Ancient History”

      Yet you call Muslims a nationality?

      Maybe you should focus on modern history, eh?

      “As to Palestine there is no such thing. Never has been”

      This is false, but let’s say it’s true.

      There was no such thing as Italy before the 19th century. Does that mean that the Italians came from abroad and settled Italy, or does it mean that the people ALREADY there changed how they identified to Italian?

    • eljay on January 5, 2016, 12:46 pm

      || Yadja: Israel is the only Democracy in the ME. … ||

      If by “only democracy in the ME” you mean “the only oppressive, colonialist, expansionist and religion-supremacist state that has spent almost 70 years stealing, occupying and colonizing Palestinian land; oppressing, torturing and killing Palestinians; and refusing to honour its obligations under international law”, yes, Israel is the “only democracy in the ME”.

      || … Jews have had a presence in the Holy Lands for over 3,000 years. … ||

      So what? Non-Jews have also had a presence in Palestine (“the Holy Lands”) for over 3,000 years. “Presence” does not entitle Jews or non-Jews – from Palestine or elsewhere – to any sort of supremacist state in Palestine.

    • Kris on January 5, 2016, 1:10 pm

      Hi, “Yadja.”

      Please provide links to support your assertions. You will be interested to find, as you google for links to use, that most of your assertions are false.

      Just as evidence-based practice leads to the best outcomes in healthcare, evidence-based discussion leads to better understanding of the issues being debated here on mondoweiss.

    • RoHa on January 5, 2016, 6:16 pm

      “Israel is the only Democracy in the ME”

      The countries that boast most loudly of their democracy are those that have, over the last couple of centuries, caused most trouble in the Middle East. Britain, France, the USA, and finally Israel have brought, and still bring, death and destruction to the area.

      Perhaps not a good advertisement for democracy.

      “….and an Allie of the U.S.”

      What has Israel ever done for the US, aside from trying to sink a US ship and harassing US troops in Lebanon?

      The US, and the real allies of the US (Australia, Britain, Canada, France), are allies of Israel, but the relationship is one-sided.

  8. Ossinev on January 5, 2016, 1:18 pm

    One of the latest to join the ranks of the Nitayshites is obviously getting worried abou the growth and impact of BDS.

    “Oren described BDS as part of a new stage in Arab attempts to destroy Israel through delegitimization.”

    “The goal of BDS is not a two-state solution or the end of the occupation. Their occupation is 1948,” Oren said, referring to the year of Israel’s establishment. “They are well-funded, highly organized and very sophisticated.”

    The way to fight the boycott campaign is “to go on the offensive, and bring the battle to BDS,” Oren said, admitting: “We haven’t come up with an answer [to BDS]. We need a legal and hasbara Iron Dome.”

    Hilarious. WTF would a “Hasbara Iron Dome” consist off. The Zionists already have their legion of trolls consulting their Hasbara manuals and firing off their pathetic damp squid analyses and responses to anything remotely critical of the Land of Creation. Are they going to set up “batteries” of even dafter and even more hypocritical trolls to target media and web comments pages. What a terrifying thought.

    The only problem for you Mr Oren is that BDS is not firing DIY fireworks – they are firing the real thing = TRUTH and your “Hasbara Iron Dome” cannot destroy the truth in 2016.

    Go stick your head further into the sand.

    • annie on January 5, 2016, 1:35 pm

      Hilarious. WTF would a “Hasbara Iron Dome” consist off. The Zionists already have their legion of trolls consulting their Hasbara manuals and firing off their pathetic damp squid analyses and responses to anything remotely critical of the Land of Creation. Are they going to set up “batteries” of even dafter and even more hypocritical trolls to target media and web comments pages. What a terrifying thought.

      i am afraid they are going to set up even dafter and even more hypocritical trolls. in fact we have a new one who arrived today (scroll up). she appears to be having a hard time getting thru though. see the “number of comments” vs the ones published ?: http://mondoweiss.net/profile/yadja

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