Is Israel a Democracy or a Kleptocracy?

isreali apartheid palestine

Israel followers seek advantage by adding praiseworthy phrases after the word “Israel,” such as, “Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East;” “Israel’s IDF, the most humane army in the world”; “Israel, the only country in the Middle East that has religious freedom.” Hogwash!

No nation means no democracy.
Examining the first expression leads to a conclusion that Israel cannot be a democracy for one fundamental reason — it is not a nation. A previous article ( gave reasons for this assertion. A summary:

  • Borders define a nation and Israel has no defined borders.
  • There is no Israel nationality; nationality is defined by ethnicity.
  • Laws govern a nation, and some of Israel’s laws are inconsistent (Mandate, Ottoman, religious) or prejudicially applied to favor the Jewish population.
  • The Right of Return, which permits Jews who are not descendants of Israeli Jews  to migrate to Israel and automatically have the right to apply for citizenship, is not a rule pursued by any other nation,
  • Israel has a chaotic political system in which political Parties come and go every few years, change direction, and join forces to survive.
  • An unusual large percentage of Israelis (12 percent) do not live in Israel.
  • Israel’s intelligence services have engaged in a large number of extra-judicial killings and its military has seized and attacked peaceful ships in international waters.
  • Israel has no Constitution or historical documents that replace a Constitution.

Does not meet accepted definitions of democracy.
Set aside the crushing response to a pretended Israel democracy and inspect adherence of Israel to democratic fundamentals. Democracy has many definitions; most accepted is a definition that consists of four elements.

  1. Active participation of the people, as citizens, in politics and civic life.
    Israel’s citizens participate actively; however, a military that governs much of Israel’s direction and life, subdues and guides their activities.
  2. Protection of the human rights of all peoples, citizens and non-citizens.

United Nations (UN) decisions that accuse Israel of severe human rights violations (,

Human Rights Watch (HRW) surveys of Israel policies


B’Tselem documentation (, and

Amnesty international (AI) reports ( territories/report-israel-and-occupied-palestinian-territories/testify to Israel’s lack of protection of human rights.

  1. A rule of law, in which the laws and procedures apply equally to all citizens.

Without a written constitution, Israel’s laws discriminate against its minorities and separate its citizens.

  1. Few Palestinians have been able to rent housing or buy property in West Jerusalem.
  2. Few Arabs have been able to purchase government sponsored housing.
  3. The separation of populations results in the separation of activities, recreation centers, and education
  4. Although some Arabs are able to obtain college scholarships, the large majority of college scholarships require previous military duty. Because Arabs are not eager to serve in the Israeli army, college scholarships for Arabs are more limited.
  5. Arabs do not obtain many, if any, housing loans.
  6. The state of Israel owns more than 90 percent of the land. “In trust” only “for the Jewish people.” Non-Jewish citizens cannot, except in rare occasions, purchase land.
  7. Whenever the Israeli army wants to construct a military base, Arab property is expropriated for the endeavor.
  8. Because marriages are performed by a rabbi, a Jew cannot marry a non-Jew within the boundaries of Israel.

Human Rights violations are not limited to non-Jewish communities. On January 18, 2010, over 5,000 young Ethiopian-Israelis and their supporters marched through central Jerusalem to protest against racism and discrimination. Government studies conducted in conjunction with The Hebrew University of Jerusalem have found that “a job applicant with an Ashkenazi-sounding name has a 34 percent higher chance of being hired by an employer than a person with a Sephardi-sounding name applying for the same position. … [and also that] over 22% of employers openly stated that they actively discriminate against applicants with Arab-sounding names.”

  1. A political system for choosing government through free and  fair elections.

Israel has a chaotic political system that features personalities establishing poitical Parties and re-aligning the political system in free and fair elections. Due to mergers, official desertions, and leadership changes, it is difficult to know with exactitude the Party programs. Usually, it does not matter, most of the political Parties’ platforms and votes concerns three issues — how to take over all the West Bank, creation of Greater Israel, and challenges to Israel’s adversaries. Those most affected by voter concerns, Palestinians in West Bank and Gaza, cannot vote and are unable to guide their fate. A description of essential Party platforms is shown in the  following table.


Likud Opposes creation of Palestinian state. Voted for de facto annexation of West Bank Area C.
Yesh Atid Willing to enter into negotiations with the Palestinians, albeit without land concessions. Wants to change priorities in Israel, with an emphasis on civil life — education, housing, health, transport, and policing, as well as improving condition of the middle class.
Israel Resilience Party Vowed to strengthen settlement blocs and Golan Heights, from which will never retreat. “United Jerusalem” will forever remain Israel’s capital. Jordan Valley should remain as the country’s eastern security border. Leans right when it comes to security issues, left when it comes to socio-economic issues, and liberal in economic goals.
Telem Emphasizes increased settlement in Israel’s disputed areas, with  right to settle in the entire land of Israel
Shas Opposes any freeze in Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank.  Believes in a “United Jerusalem,” and supports the Greater Jerusalem plan.
Yisrael Beiteinu Supports an aggressive security policy, emphasizing preemptive strikes against Hamas and other opponents of Israel. Solution of the conflict is an exchange of territories and populations.
Meretz Peace between Israel and the Palestinians based on a two-state solution, as laid out in the Geneva Accord. Proposes freezing construction of the Israeli settlements.
Labor Maintains that a permanent peace with the Palestinians can only be based on agreements that are enforceable.  Committed to the continued existence of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.
Union of Right-Wing Parties
The Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people. Opposition to the establishment of a Palestinian state. Israel is the nation-state of only the Jewish people.
Joint List â€“ Arab Bloc Works on shared issues with center-left Jewish opposition parties and seeks membership of key parliamentary committees.  Conditions for entering a coalition requires the government to lead a meaningful process to ending military occupation of West Bank, and equality for Arab citizens of

If Israel is not a democracy, how is it best characterized?
How about a specific case of kleptocracy, which is known as Raubwirtschaft, German for “plunder economy.” In Raubwirtschaft, the state economy is partially based on robbery, looting and plundering conquered territories. States that engage in Raubwirtschaf are in continuous warfare with their neighbors and usurp the resources of their conquered subjects, while claiming security objectives and defensive actions against defenseless people.

Israel has gone further than Raubwirtschaft, using it as a springboard for Transnational Corruption — having its citizens extend the illicit activities to global networks of money laundering, human trafficking, drug smuggling, and general crime.

Here is a broad brush of Israelis involvement in Transnational Corruption over the years.

Blacklisted 16 years ago, Israel has gained entry to the Financial Action Task Force, yet new immigrants can bring in unreported income for 10 years and vast scams go unprosecuted. Not to mention complaints from law enforcement in places like France and the United States that Israel is not cooperating sufficiently on international financial crimes.

Ariel Marom, a Belorussian-born former banker and social justice activist who lives in Israel and frequently travels throughout Russia and Eastern Europe for work, told The Times of Israel he believes that hundreds of millions of dollars of dirty money from the former Soviet Union is being smuggled into Israel, including by new immigrants, a phenomenon he fears may have been lost on the FATF. There are certain branches of large Israeli banks, he said, that have developed a reputation among newcomers for looking the other way.

“Much of it is black money — smuggled out of Russia or the Ukraine, Moldova or the Baltic countries that has been stolen from the government budget or constitutes the proceeds of prostitution, drug sales, weapons sales or oil sales in contravention of international law. Israel is one of the financial havens for this black money,” he claimed, based on his conversations with businessmen and politicians in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. A small percentage of this money is used to corrupt Israeli politicians, he charged. “Russians — and this is no secret — fund the campaigns of a number of politicians, not just one party.”

Two Israelis shot dead in Mexico City were involved in money laundering and had links to local mafias, Mexico’s government said on Friday.

Fourteen Israelis are suspected by Colombian authorities of running a child sex trafficking ring which marketed tour packages from Israel to the Latin American country aimed at businessmen and recently discharged soldiers, according to reports on Monday.

In the recent past, Israel was faced with a severe phenomenon of human trafficking for prostitution. Since the mid-1990’s until around 2005, women were “imported” to Israel from poverty-stricken countries and forced into prostitution by criminal groups. According to police estimates, 3,000 women were trafficked for prostitution in the year 2003 alone, and there were 300-400 operating brothels and escort services. Other sources believe that these numbers were even greater.

In its annual report for 2012, the International Narcotics Control Board lists Brazil and Israel among the “countries that are major manufacturers, exporters, importers and users of narcotic drugs.”

Oded Tuito was alleged to be a global pill-pusher, whose Israeli mafia group was the biggest operator in a booming international trade in the lucrative “hug drug.”

“The profits were ploughed into Israeli real estate, being sent there from the US or Barcelona,” a police spokesman said. Police forces in various parts of the world said Mr Tuito’s arrest confirmed the alleged growing global influence of Israel’s loose-knit, but expanding, crime organisations.

Israel is at the center of international trade in the drug ecstasy, according to a document published last week by the U.S. State Department.

A seriously embarrassing record for a nation that was created to be “a light among all nations,” and claims to represent world Jewry.

How would Israel shape itself as a genuine democracy?
An Israel that contained the elements that define a democracy, including that of a valid nation, would be forced to halt the occupation and recognize property rights. An honest judiciary would award the Palestinians return of stolen property and make amends for the criminal actions against them. Given fair treatment by Israeli law, Palestinians would lose attachments to Hamas, and its political appeal would be greatly reduced. Hezbollah will become a local phenomenon, no longer a threat to others, no longer interested in life beyond its borders.

With the Palestinians recognized as equal partners in the population, many of those who lived from the benefits of the occupation and those who lived by seeing themselves as “God’s chosen people” would leave Israel. Russians may be attracted to helping Putin develop the robot tanks he desires. Techies might learn that their skills are better remunerated in Silicon Valley, Maryland’s I-270 corridor, and Boston’s technical institutions. Western oriented Israelis might seek a western culture. Even Falasha Ethiopians might want to return to their origins and once again practice the religion in the manner of their ancestors. The Jewish population of Israel will be reduced, and, eventually, Gaza and the West Bank will join with Israel in a new nation — Israel/Palestine, where all citizens, no matter their religion or ethnicity will be treated equally and fairly, without the Golan, which will be returned to Syria, its rightful owners. Tensions with Arab neighbors will cease and the new Israel will be welcome to the Middle East.

Israel apologists will categorize this discourse as stupid and naive; not recognizing that the argument is not between naivete and their “law of the jungle,” and that it is between does Israel want to be an abnormal and illegal kleptocracy or a normal and justified democracy? Is it naive to believe that an oppressed group will not resist? is it naive to believe that Israel can continue its battles with the Arab world for eternity without finally succumbing? If Egypt and Syria had a much stronger military during the 1970s would Israel have survived? A relatively few Zionists placed millions of Jews in jeopardy. Is it smart to bring the Palestinians to destruction based on false concepts and continually jeopardize lives of the worldwide Jewish population?

An Israel fear that Palestinians will gain control and inflict a serious retribution is a projection of Israeli thought and action, and a convenient defense for their kleptocracy. Just as crime benefits criminal elements, kleptocracy benefits Israel. Democracy, the rule of law, benefits those who believe that laws and procedures apply equally to all citizens. This Israel is not a democracy and never can be — a true democracy that has effective rule of law will create another Israel, a nation that reverses theft of Palestinian lands, resources, and patrimony, all of which began in 1948, and is proving to be non-ending.

Dan Lieberman edits Alternative Insight, a commentary on foreign policy, economics, and politics. He is author of the book A Third Party Can Succeed in America, a Kindle: The Artistry of a Dog, and a novel: The Victory (under a pen name). Dan can be reached at 




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