Self-test: Do you have what it takes to be prime minister of Israel? – Bradley Burston/Haaretz
Your decision may be critical to the future of democracy in Israel. It will impact the selection of a new attorney general – a pivotal figure in lawmaking, law enforcement, and prosecutions. Your choice may also hugely affect the authority and independence of the Supreme Court and the beleaguered judiciary as a whole – for whom the Justice Minister is meant to serve as chief defender.
A. A respected jurist with a proven, pro-active commitment to the human rights cited in Israel’s Declaration of Independence, which promises “complete equality of social and political rights to all [of Israel’s] inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex,” as well as “freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture.”
B. A pragmatist politician with a law degree and a proven talent for preserving the status quo.
C. A computer engineer with no experience in the law, who has spearheaded efforts to undermine the Supreme Court, deny equal rights to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, deny basic rights to African asylum seekers, and who posts on Facebook a quote which appears to justify indiscriminate mass killings of Palestinians and their children (referred to as “little snakes”).
CHALLENGE 2: You must appoint a Deputy Defense Minister.
This challenge is particularly sensitive, because the post will now have responsibility for the Civil Administration, which has key and in many ways absolute control over entry, travel and other movement permits for the Palestinians of the West Bank, as well responsibility for granting construction permits for both Palestinians and settlers, and for other flashpoint functions.
A. A person with a background in negotiation and contacts with the Palestinians, ideally one who can leverage the position to ease restrictions, with an eye toward resumption of negotiations toward a future Israeli-Palestinian accord.
B. A person with military experience in the workings of the West Bank, who can keep the present situation relatively intact, and can avoid a conflagration.
C. A former municipal rabbi who, as deputy minister of religious services, is quoted as saying of Palestinians that “In my view, they are human animals – they are not people.” On another occasion, the rabbi notes that Judaism forbids single-sex marriage just as it prohibits intermarriage with non-Jews. Asked if they were the same thing, he responds: “We don’t recognize either of them. Nevertheless, a Jew will always have a much higher soul than that of a goy [non-Jew], even if he’s a homosexual.”
CHALLENGE 3: Your coalition must appoint a Deputy Speaker of the Knesset.
The Deputy Speaker will chair plenum sessions, fostering respectful and orderly debate and decision-making.
A. A lawmaker with a proven track record of respect for the Other, a moderate outlook, and strong belief in the workings of democracy.
B. A colorless, dependable, under-the-radar legislator with a record of experience in the workings of parliament.
C. A rookie politician who, prior to the 2005 disengagement from Gaza, was one of five opponents of the withdrawal who were detained by the Shin Bet on suspicion of suspicion of conspiring to commit a crime, disruption of public transport routes, endangering human life, malicious damage, membership in a banned organization and sedition, Ynet reported, adding that “the Shin Bet seized 700 liters of fuel and oil in the possession of [the] five right-wingers, who allegedly sought to attack Israeli infrastructure to prevent the evacuation from Gaza’s settlements.”
In the end, after three weeks in custody, no charges are brought against him.
The next year, same young leader organizes the “March of Beasts” in which donkeys are paraded around the streets of Jerusalem to protest Gay Pride parades in the city. This year, campaigning for Knesset, he disavows the March of Beasts demonstration, saying he was “young and stupid” at the time, but still describes himself as “a proud homophobe.”
Scoring: 10 points for each A answer, 50 for each B, 200 for each C.
10 – 30 Points: Sorry. You’re not going to cut it. You’re thinking democracy here. You’re thinking wrong.
50 -150 points: You’re on the right track. You’ve got what it takes to take a coalition seat and warm it indefinitely. But you’ve got to try harder.
200 or more points: Congratulations! You have what it takes to govern like Benjamin Netanyahu. You have chosen Ayelet Shaked to be your justice minister, Eli Ben-Dahan to serve as deputy minister of defense, and, if current indicators hold, first-term MK Bezalel Smotrich to preside over the new parliament as one of its deputy speakers.