The limits on Israeli Democracy

January 16, 2009

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In 1985 the racist fundamentalist Kach Party of Meir Kahane was banned from running in the elections, after an amendment to Israeli Election law was passed. This amendment prohibited a party to campaign for election if it either opposes Israel as a Jewish state, or incites to racism.

Last week, citing the same amendment, the Central Elections Committee decided to ban two Arab parties – United Arab List-Ta’al and Balad. Both parties oppose the conception of the State of Israel as a Jewish state, aspiring to re-establish Israel as a ‘state of all its citizens.’

Supporters of the ban argue that the two parties not only deny the right of the Jewish people to self determination, but actively incite to armed struggle against the State of Israel. Others say that not only will the ban erode Israel’s fragile democracy, but will further widen the gap between Israel’s Jewish majority and the 20.1% who are Palestinian Arab citizens of the State of Israel.

We await the final ruling of the Supreme Court, while wondering:

What constitutes a Jewish Democratic State?

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