Sunday, June 10, 2018

ISRAEL, A VERY DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY; The Knesset and how it works

Nadene Goldfoot                           
Menorah outside Knesset Building, Jerusalem

Israel is a very tiny country of from 8,000  to 10,000 square miles made up of 6 million Jews and 1.7 million Arabs.  How do they ever handle government affairs?

This wee country happens to be the most pluralistic around, a real melting pot, more so than the USA .  80% of the Israelis are Jews of different ethnicities from different countries and even races.  From an origin of Jacob's  family of 70 that went into Egypt  to inhabitants of every corner of the world, continents and islands, they have returned to their designated land.  Even the Lost 10 Tribes of Israel are returning.  Recently formed Jewish communities that have converted want to move to Israel.  

Many had emigrated from places in the Middle Eastern Arab lands; the Black Ethiopians, India, Russia, the USA and many parts of Europe.  Over half the population are Jewish refugees from Arab and Muslim Middle Eastern and North African countries and of course have had descendants born in Israel now that make up over half the Jewish population.   Israel recognizes 15 different religions.  

The other 20 % of 1.7 million Arabs are made up of  mostly Arab Muslims and some Arab Christians, non Arab Christians, Druse, Bedouins, Circassians, Asians and others.  
Knesset Building, Jerusalem 

Israel, with this assorted population that must remain strongly Jewish, for that's why it was created in the first place, as a refuge for Jews from persecution of anti-Semitism, have followed Britain and the USA methods and came up with the KNESSET (Parliament) , made up of 120 people.
Netanyahu speaking to USA congress 2015
b: 1949 Israel
Prime Minister 1996, 2009, present 

Golda Meir b: 1898 Russia
Minister to USSR 1948
PM in 1969, 1973

These 120 members in their one-house Knesset come from many political parties, not just 2 or 3.  They serve 4-year terms, usually.  Likud (on the right) and Labor (on the left) are the main 2 parties of late.  Golda Meier was from Labor and Netanyahu is from Likud.  

View of Jerusalem, the Wall below where Jews go to pray, Mosque and
church  in close proximity 
Then there are other parties standing for many other opinions that include:  Communist, religious, Arab and secular views, a mixture of religious and political points of view.  The citizens of Israel vote for the party of their choice, not a person.  

Each party elects its own list of Knesset candidates.  Knesset seats are then allotted according to the % of the popular votes that the party received.  

Let's say that a party wins 5 seats.  The 1st 5 candidates on its list will become Members of the Knesset or ( MK).  

A party needs only 2% of the vote to win a seat.  This is a very low % of any other country's expectations in a similar Democracy which creates a boisterous and often confusing political system.  There have been as many as 19 different parties in the Knesset at one time.  

BUT....this allows even the smallest party to have a voice party never gets a Knesset majority, and the governing group has to form conditions to function.  Now do you understand Prime Minister Netanyahu's position a little better?  
Reuven Rivlin b: 1939 Jerusalem
President of Israel 2014

The President  is elected by the Knesset and serves for 7 years with no 2nd term allowed.  His job is to appoint diplomats, justices and judges based on Knesset recommendations.  

The Prime Minister is the leader of the party with the most Knesset members.  He or she recommends his cabinet of ministers who must be approved by the Knesset.  Usually it is made up of a coalition of political parties.  

The Knesset can bring down a government with a no-confidence vote that then calls for early elections.  

The Supreme Courts: (Judicial Branch)  This is independent and is the watchdog for civil and human rights.  Israel's Supreme Court has jurisdiction to review military actions as well.  

Marriage and divorce are not regulated by civil law as in the USA and England.  Instead, each religious group has its own "religious court," which adjudicates these issues.  

Following the 2015 elections, there were 17 parties in the Knesset.  There were 29 other parties waiting for a Knesset seat.  
David Ben Gurion
b: 1886 Poland
Immigrated to Palestine 1906
Prime Minister : 1948
1953 resigned from government; lived in Negev on Sedeh Boker
1955 Minister of Defense, active until death
Died 1973

This tiny country, born again after losing their first Israel-Judah in 70 CE, announced it's statehood on May 14, 1948 from Ben Gurion's announcement from Tel Aviv.  Jews had to wait patiently for  1,878 years to be able to do so. They prayed 3 times a day for this to happen all these years.  Judaism did not die, but almost became extinct as this only surviving group from past history in the Middle East have survived tenuously, depending on the moods of the host country Jews have lived in.  

"ISRAEL.....will be based on freedom, justice and peace...ensure complete equality of social and political rights....irrespective of religion, race or sex...guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture..(and) safeguard the HOLY Places of all religions..."  Israel's Declaration of Statehood, May 14, 1948. 

ISRAEL 101 booklet by StandWithUs
facts about israel pages 86-92

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