Thursday, October 4, 2012

Outsourcing Democracy

While only Israeli citizens have the right to vote in Knesset elections, foreign nationals can, by virtue of their money, to a large extent determine the identity of the head of the Likud list, and by extension, that of the prime minister as well. This phenomenon exists in other parties too, but this is the first time a case has come to light in which the overwhelming majority of donors were foreign nationals.

Such donations are of course legal nowadays, but we are nevertheless talking about foreigners taking over the Israeli democratic process. Granted, they are all good Jews, and some of them probably also contribute to worthy social objectives in Israel, for which they deserve praise. But this situation expropriates democratic decisions from the hands of Israel's citizens. I know of no similar situation in any other democratic country. 

Here is the catch. Avineri is right. There is something deeply troubling about the fact that foreign money is the one determining your political representatives. But here is the catch - those who would argue against foreign money supporting Netanyahu -  are exactly those who only a few months ago explained to us why the law that NGOs must declare their foreign funding were undemocratic (think the NIF). So, is there a significant difference between funding influential NGOs, and funding the candidates directly?

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