When I saw a headline this week talking about the Israeli Knesset with the word “impeachment” in it my ears immediately perked up. That’s not something you normally hear coming out of their government, so I wondered who was on the chopping block. As it turns out, nobody is.. for now. But the ruling legislature has voted to change their rules of order to make it easier to eject members who openly support antisemitism or encourage armed insurrection against the state.
Israel’s parliament has passed a law that would allow it to impeach an MP who incites racism or supports armed struggle against the state.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the measure ended an “absurd situation” whereby someone who “supports terror” was allowed to serve in the Knesset.
But critics said it was anti-democratic and aimed mainly at Israeli Arab MPs.
The law would require three-quarters of the Knesset’s 120 members to vote in favour of any impeachment motion.
There was, of course, immediate criticism of this change on a couple of fronts. The more obvious one came from supporters of Arab members who claimed that they would be targeted for criticizing policies enacted by the majority or cozying up too much to the Palestinians. From a partisan perspective that’s understandable, but we’re talking about Israel here. Being in a constant state of war with terrorists on their own doorstep for generations will tend to impose a circle the wagons mentality on anyone.
The other opposition which is coming up is centered on the issue of free speech. Should elected representatives be barred from expressing such opinions? If we were talking about the United States, the obvious answer is no. We have that right carved in stone into our constitution and such a proposal would never see the light of day. But as with conditions in a number of the countries of our allies, not everyone has that same level of freedom. (You don’t even find it in Great Britain.) The fact is that Israel is a nation founded as a Jewish state and they don’t provide the same Bill of Rights that we do. You’re free to disagree with them if you wish, but I don’t see how this is outside their normal rules of order.