Israelis aplenty already realize that our press is hopelessly and cynically skewed. We know that any modicum of media fair play is impossible where current affairs are measured by the yardstick of the dominant and domineering journalistic clique's agenda. But has this pernicious syndrome now also afflicted our democracy's assorted and outspoken ostensible guardians (those who never lose an opportunity to beat others' breasts)? So it seems, because to judge from their flavor-of-the-season dictum, elections are bad for democracy.
That's what it boils down to, despite the supposed focus only on frequent, ahead-of-original-schedule elections. Advanced elections - the sort with which we're hardly unfamiliar - are at the heart of the parliamentary system's rationale, as they enable the populace to promptly eject headliner honchos who didn't deliver the goods as promised.
Ehud Olmert, remember, promised us "a country that's fun to live in." In his then-full aggressive mode and sardonic glory, he lashed out mercilessly at arch-opponent Binyamin Netanyahu, denigrating his warnings against the rocket stockpiles north and south as "panic-mongering" (Bibi coined the term Hamastan) and his economics as definitive killjoy heartlessness (nonetheless not preventing Olmert from claiming complete credit for Netanyahu's obvious successes).
Olmert's entire Kadima coterie of unabashed opportunists applauded his acerbic outbursts as much as they mindlessly later approved his wretched war-management. Then, as now, personal interests take precedence over all else among Olmert's self-serving groupies. Had their motivations been a mere tad higher-minded, they wouldn't have expediently climbed on Kadima's bandwagon in the first place.
They're all liable for the sorry mess Olmert got us into - perhaps the sorriest in our history because it grievously damaged the fragile military deterrent that thus far facilitated Israel's rudimentary physical survival in this inimical Islamofascist setting. One would therefore expect the coalition's entire blundering bunch - Labor included - to again face the electorate.
CONSIDERING the harm incontrovertibly caused so far, do we really want to keep this shady joint-venture team even near the national helm? Can these bunglers really be trusted with fixing what they broke in the first place - what they obstinately denied breaking? The Winograd Committee blamed the whole government for the gross malfunction of our life-preserving defenses. No trifling hitch. Olmert was cited by the inquiry panel he reluctantly appointed as having "seriously failed in all matters of discretion, responsibility and caution." His ministers were taken to task for "not understanding what they were approving."
Their faulty perceptions being the problem, can they be relied upon to repair their own cognitive incompetence? The very fact that coalition members (all terrified they'd never get reelected) handily defeated parliamentary no-confidence motions attests compellingly to their egocentric standards. Now these selfsame disingenuous politicos presume to instruct us about democracy and assert that early elections are undemocratic! They didn't think so in 1999 or 2001. Their principles are bendable. Everything depends on where their private advantage lies.
Hence Kadima's crew hotly refused elections on the eve of 2005's disengagement fiasco - initially rammed undemocratically down the Likud's throat and then steamrolled through the Knesset (where the greater good wasn't the issue). Adding insult to injury, Kadima and its fair-weather leftist collaborators (who'll never miss a chance to surrender strategic assets to implacable enemies) mustered the mind-boggling temerity to present opinion polls as their pretext for ballot-phobia. Their mantra was that the polls were solidly pro-disengagement, rendering elections redundant and wasteful. So sermonized Olmert, Tzipi Livni, Shimon Peres et al.
By that logic, unfavorable polls should hasten elections. However, the coalition band remains election-shy even when the polls undeniably show it as having literally hit approval-ratings rock bottom. Unsurprisingly, inauspicious polls are dismissed as inherently illegitimate precisely because they predict that were elections to be held today, the Likud, headed by the much-reviled Netanyahu, would win. No means are taboo to prevent so undesirable an outcome (for Kadima and Labor alike).
THUS IS born the latest war cry from the powers-that-be (who brought us such hit productions as disengagement and the Second Lebanon War): "Just not Bibi." Ever-arrogant Ehud Barak won Labor's leadership primary with this single slogan. His super-flunky past - as progenitor of the midnight flight from Lebanon and the second intifada - is irrelevant as long as he impedes Bibi.
This catchphrase, brazenly repeated and accepted unquestioningly by accomplice scribblers and supercilious talking heads, is inevitably soon promoted into a self-evident truism. Patronizing opinion-molders pronounce it axiomatically to the plebeians that "Bibi is bad." There are no prominently published or popularly broadcast doubts about this premise.
Exactly what made Bibi's legacy so awful? Was it terror's decline under Bibi's watch? His uncharitable policy of reciprocity toward terrorist "peace partners?" Or perhaps his rescue of the national economy from ruin? Whatever! Reiterated cliches suffice to associate Bibi with odium. They continue the relentless campaign of demonization and vilification which the Left and double-dealing fellow travelers unleashed so unrestrainedly against their favorite foe.
Thwarting bogeyman Bibi justifies abandoning all democratic norms. If the people seem to want Bibi, then the people must be outwitted and stopped. With Bibi in power, lots of Kadima and Labor careers would suffer - something which career-builders-at-any-cost must foil.
Olmert may be sacrificed for this purpose (the strategy Barak advocates) but not the Kadima-led, election-blocking coalition (on whose endurance Barak depends to reestablish his prestige). All public-spirited considerations are subordinated to the Kadima-Labor unholy alliance that defies the masses' will and dictates for whom voters may opt and who's unacceptable.
It's perfectly okay not to be a Bibi fan. What's not decent is not to demand full accountability and not to respect the consequent people's choice. If the people ultimately want Bibi, so be it.