Everything that makes Israel intellectually defensible (as opposed to the raw emotion appeal of a Jewish homeland) rests on Israel’s status as a democracy. Sure, it’s not a perfect democracy. But who is? Yes, they have problems with their minority population that they displaced. But that’s not unique. Just ask a Native American, an Irish person, or even a Lappish person. Judging Israel by harsher and stricter standards than we judge other western nations shows a huge bias against it.
Saying they’re our ally isn’t enough. Lots of brutal dictatorships are our “allies.” What makes Israel defensible is that it is a western-style democracy, warts and all.
So, when Avigdor Lieberman wins control of a block of swing votes with the intention of ethnically cleansing Israel (and I’m fairly sure by “Israel” he means at least part of the Palestinian territories too) of Arabs, and both major parties are trying hard to include him in their coalition, you have to wonder.
You have to wonder whether Israeli democracy is undergoing a crisis. It’s not hard to guess why. Just look at the US in the several years after 9/11. Israel has a 9/11 level event all the time. The Israelis believe that Iranian government, which has sponsored terrorist groups that attack them daily, is developing a nuclear weapon to attack them. They are living in a highly charged state of fear. They aren’t wrong to be that way.
Funny store. A new left wing party in Israel may have diluted Kadima’s vote just enough to make their best hope of a coalition (including Shas, a religously conservative but somewhat socialistic party) only must 60 instead of 61 votes. Shas and Lieberman strongly dislike each other, so if Lieberman tried to form a government with Netanyahu, Shas might have had an urge to join Tzipi. That won’t happen, because the 61st vote is in an Arab party, and, well, that can’t happen. (Could it happen in the US? No.)
So, the right wing is going to come to power there, and may undermine all of the intellectual defenses of Israel, leaving only the religious, emotional, and racial ties to the place. I’m not sure I can do that.