Israel as a Democracy

With multiple diversity in geographic background and ideological outlooks, the Zionist movement practiced democracy to sustain its fledgling movement. At times its leaders and rank and file could not agree on methods, means, attitudes toward the Arabs, level of Jewish practice, or pace in achieving nationalist objectives. From the establishment of the World Zionist Organization in 1897 to the present, Zionist and Israeli politicians regularly quit a political identity only to re-emerge in practice as some future time. Decisions in national organizations like the Jewish National Fund, Jewish Agency, Histadrut, and political parties were sometimes made in autocratic settings, yet almost always included consultation, debate, and dissent. From its earliest years until the present, its 120 member parliament has reflected a breadth of political opinion, always with a high percentage of the body politic participating in elections. And to its credit, Israel has systematically scrutinized the behavior of its politicians and the actions of its leaders in times of conflict and controversy.

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