Ukraine and Israel Are Very Special Democracies

          Hi. Joe Biden here, asking for more money for Ukraine and Israel.

            Many Americans are asking: why, while millions of Americans are unemployed and getting evicted and starving and homeless, should we ignore our own people and send billions of dollars to foreign countries instead? The answer is: democracy. We have to defend democracy.

            Ukraine and Israel aren’t just democracies. They’re special democracies.

            Very special democracies.

            Ukraine, for example, is the kind of democracy that doesn’t hold elections for local offices. There were supposed to be parliamentary elections, this month, but…yeah. There weren’t and there won’t be. Don’t worry, it’s perfectly legal because after the war with Russia started in February 2022, martial law was declared and the Ukrainian Constitution doesn’t allow elections under martial law.

            Ukraine is so democratic that it doesn’t even need to have presidential elections anymore. Martial law again. And who declared martial law? Why, it’s that sly rascal President Volodymyr Zelensky—make that President-for-Life Volodymyr Zelensky. We’re so dysfunctional here in the U.S. that House Republicans can’t agree with themselves who should be Speaker. But Ukraine is streamlined! The guy who would be running for reelection this spring won’t have to, because he personally said so! That’s a very special democracy.

            Under “martial law,” a term that no one has ever managed to define, Ukraine is a kind of democracy in which “conducting referendums, organizing strikes, and holding public demonstrations and other mass gatherings are prohibited.” Special!

            President-for-Life Zelensky points out: “according to the [martial law] legislation, it is forbidden to hold elections.” Legislation that he signed unilaterally, of course. He is so committed to the rule of law that he refuses to unilaterally cancel a law that he unilaterally created in order to cancel the rule of law.

            As everyone knows, you don’t need to hold elections to call yourself a democracy. Aside from martial law, there would be some big logistical challenges to holding an election right now. Like, Zelensky could lose! In the last poll of Ukrainians before the war, 53% of voters disapproved of his job performance and 38% approved.

            Also, an election without other candidates and parties isn’t much fun. Ukraine has banned all left-wing parties, and also banned 11 other parties, including the biggest one, whose leader is under house arrest. Better not to bother.

            Even if there were other parties and candidates to run against Zelensky, which there are not, they wouldn’t be able to campaign because “conducting referendums, organizing strikes, and holding public demonstrations and other mass gatherings are prohibited” under martial law. Who needs campaign rallies, because who would report about them anyway? His Excellency the President-for-Life has imposed state censorship on newspapers, shuttered opposition websites and shut down all opposition TV outlets and consolidated them into his own state TV platform. He calls it a “unified information policy.” No more channel changing! Save on monthly subscriptions to media apps!

The U.S. spent over $14 billion on the 2020 election. Ukraine is a very efficient democracy. They’re spending nothing at all! We must defend this penny-pinching beacon of freedom.

Israel, I like to say, is “a safe, secure, Jewish, and democratic state.” OK, not that safe. But, like Ukraine, it’s a democracy. Israel is a very very special kind of democracy.

In a democracy, the right to vote is one of the most fundamental privileges accorded to a citizen. The trouble is, sometimes people vote incorrectly. And in a democracy, all you need to do to be considered a citizen is to be born and live in the country.

To fix this problem, Israel has decided that only its very best people—the 9.6 million residents of Israel “proper”—can be citizens. The 2.4 million Palestinians in Gaza or the 2.7 million Palestinians in the West Bank are, as the vernacular goes, S.O.L. (The 500,000 Israeli settler-colonists squatting in the West Bank are, however, fully vested voters.)

Of the 9.6 million Israelis in Israel proper, 2.0 million are Israeli Arabs and 500,000 are neither Jewish nor Arab. If they and the West Bank settlers voted alongside their fellow 5.1 million Arabs in Gaza and the West Bank in a unified Israeli-Palestinian state, there would be 7.6 million Jews almost tied with 7.1 million Arabs.

Too much democracy.

On the other hand, 5.1 million Palestinian citizens of their own viable nation-state in a two-state scenario would present a different problem. The Republic of Palestine would have a seat at the United Nations, embassies and consulates all over the world, foreign news bureaus. Journalists and tourists could freely come and go. Palestinian citizens would talk. They’d complain, even about Israel. I mean, they do that now—but people might pay attention and—God forbid—care!

So Israel has an à la carte democracy. They lock the Palestinians away in Gaza and the West Bank, out of sight and out of mind, stateless and hopeless and voiceless, under Israeli occupation but without the right to vote. The Jewish “majority” of Israel enjoys the Middle East’s only thriving democracy.

Imagine how cool it would be if we could do that here! Turn the flyover “red” states into an occupied stateless concentration camp without voting rights. The remainder, the coastal “blue” states, would become a liberal paradise. No more Trumpies. Abortion rights—back. E-vehicle charging stations everywhere.

Israel has biggified democracy!

So, my fellow Americans, please join me in supporting Ukraine and Israel, these two very special, very expensive democracies.

While you’re still allowed.

(Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, co-hosts the left-vs-right DMZ America podcast with fellow cartoonist Scott Stantis. You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)


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