Why Israel’s Crazy Electoral System Might Be Best Idea Ever

Haim Watzman My piece praising Israel’s proportional electoral system is now up on the Forward’s website. Jewish suffragettes scored a signal achievement in 1920, when the first nationwide elections were held in the Yishuv, the Jewish community in Palestine. They received 600 votes. This smattering of women — we may presume that nearly all of … Read more

Drawing the Line

Haim Watzman The sad story about the election Israel will hold tomorrow is that, no matter what the precise results, the balance of power will be held by a group of legislators contemptuous of the principles of democracy. Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu party seems almost certain to become the country’s third largest parliamentary faction and, … Read more

The Knesset Loses a Philosopher

Haim Watzman It’s a ritual that Israel observes before every election. One or more highly-qualified exemplars of what an Israeli parliamentarian lose out in their party primaries or decide, in disgust or exasperation, not to run again. This year’s latest victim is Isaac Ben-Israel, MK for the Kadima Party. In an interview with Ari Shavit … Read more

Refuge or Refusal: Israel and Darfur

“An infiltrator is subject to five years imprisonment,” reads the government-backed bill that gained initial approval of the Knesset yesterday, by a vote of 21-1*. If the “infiltrator” – someone crossing illegally into Israel – is from an enemy country, the maximum sentence goes up to seven years.

In other words: The law states that if a refugee from Darfur fleeing genocide reaches the State of Israel, he or she can expect not refuge but seven years imprisonment.

Consider yesterday’s vote a preliminary decision to declare that Israel is no longer a Jewish state – for to refuse refuge is to deny the most basic values of Judaism and to erase the lessons of Jewish history. Rather than “The Prevention of Infiltration Act,” this bill should be titled, “Act of Amnesia.”

According to Ha’aretz , the bill has been sent to the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, “which does not have experience with migration issues and whose sessions are held in camera.” Before I go further, let me note that the fax number of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee is +972 2 6753100 and the email address is v_bitchon@knesset.gov.il . The committee chair

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