Likud’s Settlement-Schizoid New Year’s Resolutions

On the last day of 2017, the Israeli prime minister’s party made two precedented statements about the future of the Palestinian territories. How do we make sense of the two different voices we heard from Likud concerning settlements on December 31, 2017?

This is a segment from The “Likud’s Settlement-Schizoid New Year’s Resolutions” Edition.

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1 comment on “Likud’s Settlement-Schizoid New Year’s Resolutions

  1. Greg Pollock says:

    “populist and anti-democratic…”
    (describing much legislation of this Knesset and the flowering ideology of Likud)

    Populism is quite democratic; it is rather rights which are anti-democratic, as witnessed by courts overturning legislation in the world. Every move of the Knesset is touted as the will of the People as condensed to the ruling coalition, which enjoys a majority of (realized) electoral votes (truncating parties below admission threshold). Rights formation cannot really be a majoritarian event, since rights are unnecessary when implicitly enjoyed by a majority, and people rarely plea that someone check themselves from full enjoyment of their potential. Rather, rights flare in importance when bucking majoritarian efforts. This makes the legal creation of rights problematic. A common solution is to use language passed some time ago to import new sense, or extend old sense through some form of legal reasoning. But starting from a clean slate, about the only way to entrench rights is via coalition compromise where no one gets all they want while being afraid others will get too much of what they want.

    The problem with populism is that it acts via legislation and administration to reduce its opposition in the next election. We say this is anti-democratic, yet so long as the right to vote is retained it is not so much anti-democratic but an attack on or alternation of the social system generating groups which mobilize votes. So “democracy” comes to mean a kind of election (old Syria had elections, as does present Egypt); populism, by declaring itself the “will of the People” revealed through election, seeks to redefine what democracy means by redefining what it means to be of the People. This is always under contention in any democracy to some extent. If, in the US, national health care is fully passed it will significantly alter the landscape in which prior opposition must abide and grow. There is, in US Democratic Party thought, an offer to redefine what the People is by redefining social rights.

    We say in the US that Trump was elected by the People–or some say, at any rate. But in reality, not. Indeed, the Electoral College is not meant to be a manifestation of the People as simple sum. Whatever the People is, when it does elect something it changes itself, for the very result of election changes attitudes and predispositions to act, and legislation and executive action alter the landscape in which the People manifest. There is no People overlong: Rights are based on this premise, placing immunities on individuals and groups–subsets of any People defined. What populism does is try to lock in a definition of the People, and there is an echo of this in US Democratic Party health care, this one reason why Republicans are rabidly opposed: they fear that lock in. Trump is populist; the Democrats want to be not anti-populist by other populist–the rainbow coalition is populist.

    Without a written constitution, Israel’s logic of rights is more overtly cultural than in the US. Since people really don’t like other people’s rights much of the time, Israel is thereby very vulnerable to rights attrition via the electoral process, something we see emerging in the US as well, albeit more weakly, diverted by the courts under a written constitution with a long history of jurisprudence. “Democratic” becomes a cultural word in Israel, a word under definition contention, a contention biased by those who can say “we won the Knesset.”

    Ironically from a US perspective, it is republicanism which Israel is losing, all the while keeping representation in the Knesset as core life principle. The perpetual war background of Israel aside, this should not be too surprising, for Israeli parties are what one votes for–a party list, not a party man, save for its representative head. So Israel begins with top down control via control within its parties. The republican ideal of individual really has no strong ground in such a system. The US, for all its ugliness, elects people, not parties; so does the UK. And direct party representation in Europe has a checking written constitution. Without a written constitution, the Israeli form is naturally predisposed for the attrition of rights, rights meant to allow failed minorities survive to try again. While the settlements are a driving engine in Israeli politics, it is noteworthy that that small fraction of the population is effectively rewriting the prior cultural agreement of politics, for individuals exist only in groups–such is, I suggest, always the case when rights are not firm. As some Israelis cry, the occupation is changing what you are and can be.

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