By DANNY DANON
The Knesset has developed into a firm purveyor of the democratic values that reflect our country’s character.
This week the parliament of the renascent State of Israel marked its 63rd anniversary. I was awestruck by the 4,000 visitors we had that day, youngsters, observant and nonobservant, Jews and Arabs – all proudly engaged in their inspection of our nation’s democracy at work.
Even as the Knesset is routinely ridiculed by eager critics, I firmly believe all Israelis and friends of Israel around the globe can continue to look to our legislature with abiding pride and respect.
As an insider, an MK and Deputy Speaker, not a day passes in which I do not hear the constant rhetorical drumbeat that members of Knesset have abandoned their commitment to the values upon which the institution is based. Such arguments are largely based on misinformation, or more often a dislike for the sitting government and the parties in the majority. It is imperative that we remind ourselves that in Israel, unlike most in other nations in the region, the parliament is elected by the people in free and open elections.
The positions voiced in the Knesset reflect the electorate which places us there. The views which we advocate are not ours alone but are rather based on party platforms and promises that we presented as our contract with the voters. As in other Western parliaments, the legislative process in Israel employs a healthy system of checks and balances wherein every Knesset member is able to voice his or her opinion, within the confines of the law.
Critics of a specific member of Knesset would therefore be wise to remember that our actions are not tied to our individual personalities but are rather an honest reflection of what we have been elected to do.
Recently, I and many of my colleagues have been nastily labeled undemocratic. As a long-time observer of this body, I respectfully suggest that today’s Knesset is more democratic, more transparent and in fact more effective than during any other period I can remember.
Case in point: Last year, I proposed that the foreign funding of NGOs should be thoroughly investigated by a parliamentary commission so as to determine their origins and motives and assess the potential harm which such funding could cause to our national well-being. I also proposed a bill mandating that Israeli organizations and individuals who support boycotts against Israel should be subject to civil penalties that could be imposed in an Israeli court of law.
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