December 9, 2010

DIVERGING:

The state of Israel’s democracy (YITZHAK KLEIN, 12/07/2010, Jerusalem Post)

The Israel Democracy Institute’s latest Democracy Index reports that 54 percent of Israelis favor requiring citizens to take an oath of loyalty to Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state” as a condition for being allowed to vote. This bad idea should be opposed on principled and pragmatic grounds alike.

Freedom means that society may not coerce the expression of an opinion.

How much more so is this the case if the proposed sanction is to withhold the most fundamental right of citizenship from those whose opinions are deemed politically incorrect? Democracy rests on the freely given consent of the governed. It is no democracy if government, which always represents the opinion and the interests of particular parties, has the power to penalize those who disagree with it. How much more so is this the case when the penalty inflicted is withholding the right to determine the balance of political power in the country? Grant governments the right to impose loyalty oaths as the price of political participation, and they will design those oaths to exclude their political opponents from the ballot.

This is the real motive behind the loyalty oaths currently being proposed, dressed up though they may be in patriotic flummery.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at December 9, 2010 6:04 AM
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