Israelis Warn of Threats to their Democracy

July 17, 2018

 Israel’s democratic character has come under threat from its own government in recent years. A variety of Israelis, including former government ministers and current leading politicians, veterans of the defense and intelligence communities and civil society leaders have raised the alarm on the growing threat from within.

“He [Netanyahu] prefers a Greater Israel with an Arab majority, violence and division over a united, self-confident Israel with a solid Jewish majority, together facing whatever challenges may arise. He sanctifies the Land of Israel before the People of Israel. And he systematically erodes Israel’s democracy and liberal norms of governance”. – Ehud Barak, Former Prime Minister of Israel

“The government is proposing legislation to dismantle Israeli democracy from its foundations. We know other elected governments have turned democracy into totalitarian regimes. Israel will not join them”. – Tzipi Livni, Hatnuah MK

“This country was established on the values of liberal democracy, values written in the only kind of constitution we have – which is our declaration of independence – values we don’t fulfill anymore. You can analyze what happened to us in the last 50 years, but everything is under the shade of occupation. It has changed us a society. It has made us an unpleasant society”. – Carmi Gillon, Former head of Shin Bet

“Incremental tyranny [is a process] which means you live in a democracy and suddenly you understand it is not a democracy any more…This is what we are seeing in Israel. The tragedy of this process is that you only know it when it is too late”. – Ami Ayalon, Former head of Shin Bet

“If we permit corruption to take hold in the Knesset…to damage the separation of powers in the country and, worst of all, to infiltrate the most sensitive process in a democratic country — which is the process by which our elected officials are investigated — this incredible Zionist enterprise will expire”. – Yuval Diskin, Former head of Shin Bet

“I think we can agree that if we want democracy to defend us, we need to defend democracy as well. He [Netanyahu] doesn’t do this anymore, which is alarming”. – Yair Lapid, Yesh Atid Leader, and MK

“They [Likud] want to bring Turkey into Israel, where there’s no real freedom of speech or freedom of movement, and everything depends on the regime and it can do whatever it wants”. – Avi Gabbay, Labor Leader and MK

“This [ruling] coalition not only advocates certain problematic policies, it attacks the very foundations of our political system by methodically working to delegitimize all critical voices”. – Amir Peretz, Labor MK

“Our democratic system relies on a balance between the government, parliament and the judiciary, and it’s broken”. – Stav Shaffir, Labor MK

“The nature of the suspicions against the prime minister and his alleged efforts to cement himself in power, the intervention in and (partly self-) compromising of our media, the sullying of our legislature, the efforts to weaken our already overstretched and troubled police force, and the discrediting of our judiciary, including by its own hand — these all suggest that the weakening process is well underway”. – David Horovitz, Founding Editor Times of Israel

“How did we arrive at this point? How is it that in the year 2018, everyday Israelis are so concerned for the future of our democracy that they felt the need to beg their MKs not to subvert the very foundation of the state? As history has shown, where the majority gains unfettered power to pass laws that go against the most basic protections and rights of citizens, minorities suffer, and democracies die”. – Polly Braunstein, Founder of Darkeneu