(November 24, 2022 / )
“Threat to democracy” has become perhaps the rallying cry of the 21st century, an ostensible clarion call to action to preserve one of the most important systems ever devised by humanity.
But the term is increasingly being misused for political ends by those who “drive the narrative” and shape our opinions.
To begin with, democracies are necessarily imperfect, a reality Churchill encapsulated in his famous adage–they’re “the worst form of government–except for all the others that have been tried.”
This truism is nowadays often manipulated to sow discord and division, with a view to normalizing fantastical and dangerous ideologies. Long-standing ideologies, in turn, are presented as antiquated or bigoted. This is even though they have delivered unprecedented opportunity to billions of people worldwide.
Safeguarding democracy requires perspective, checks and balances. First and foremost, it requires the understanding that reality is almost never as good or as bad as it seems.
It is the lack of this awareness that opens the door to widespread acceptance of ideas that would normally be deemed beyond the pale by an otherwise “healthy” society, that might occasionally come down with a cold but recover fairly quickly.
Enter JNS, which acts as a veritable gatekeeper of democracy by providing critical viewpoints on pressing issues–primarily Jewish- and Israel-related, within the broader global context–and simultaneously as a counterweight to a seemingly endless bombardment of 280-character warnings of impending catastrophe.
In this respect, by reading JNS over the past month, one would have learned that Israel remains a vibrant democracy, having just completed its fifth national elections in less than four years.
Is Israel’s democratic system flawed?
Indeed, but far from fatally so. Are there concerns about the nature of the incoming Netanyahu government? Certainly. Is the sky falling? Nope, but if it begins to, we’ll let you know.
All that the election has changed is that Israelis have delivered a clear message, one that many do not comprehend or reject outright: They want an unabashedly right-wing leadership that upholds the country’s unique Jewish character.
There is nothing inherently wrong with this desire, nor is it suggestive of any underlying societal malignancies.
The question that should be asked is how this will is ultimately expressed.
What is known is that not every decision made in Jerusalem will be palatable to all. But disagreements on fundamental issues are no grounds to withhold support from Israel any more than it would have been to denounce America’s right to exist after Roe vs. Wade was overturned.
The Netanyahu government
Take one bone of anticipated contention: It is possible the Netanyahu government will altogether shelve the peace process? (Proponents of this process often pursue its two-state end dogmatically, even as they warn, without any sense of irony, of an impending Israeli theocracy).
That the apparent will of the majority of Israelis is to ditch Oslo following three decades of Palestinian rejectionism, manifested in ongoing terrorism, is anathema to many, including important partners in the United States.
But the Israeli collective needs to be respected. And JNS will provide its readers with the information to fully conceptualize the hot-button issues.
That is, not filtered through a doomsday lens. And also minus the recurring Hollywood-type storylines and fictions written about Israel’s primary protagonists.
Instead, context and nuance reign supreme; namely, that a diverse and complex Israeli population has numerous different, and sometimes conflicting, ideas on how to best steer the country forwards, not backwards. Thankfully, democracies resolve competing visions first and foremost at the ballot box, like the outcome or not.
This equally applies in the United States, where Democrats staved off a Republican “red wave” by retaining the Senate in the midterm elections.
“The economy, stupid,” is apparently not the be all and end all for voters. Nor, for that matter, are oppressive inflation or a massively unpopular president.
Instead, the American people bucked historical trends by propelling “Sleepy” Joe Biden’s party to victory in the Senate, and handing “Orange Man Bad” Trump’s party the House, even while hinting that it may be time to move on from 2020.
Neither Biden or Trump, of course, is devil or saint.
And the American electorate managed to effectively place checks and balances on both of them by exercising a fundamental right at the polls.
What, then, to make of the “threat to democracy”?
It may well be our growing impulse to jump to conclusions, which are then increasingly being used as the basis for calls to curb the sharing of ideas and information–the foundational principle underpinning democracies.
At JNS, rest assured that both will always flow freely.
Now is the time to make your end-of-year gift to JNS. Please give generously.