Israel's Supreme Court made the just choice and the reasonable decision today in allowing Palestinian Knesset Members Ahmed Tibi and Azmi Bishara to run for reelection at the end of this month, overturning the Central Election Committee's ruling disqualifying them on the grounds that they've challenged the Jewish nature of the state. It upheld the CEC's decision to allow Baruch Marzel to run, despite his connection to the late Meir Kahane's outlawed Kach party and his public support for forced "transfer" of Palestinians out of Israel and the territories. That too is reasonable, insofar as democracies around the world trust the voters, rather than a subset of elected politicians, to evaluate whose vision is or is not worthy of their vote. What was disturbing and unconscionable was the CEC's choice to strip Palestinian citizens of Israel of the chance to vote for Palestinian candidates while suggesting that separating church and state is a greater violation of Israel's fundamental values than ethnic cleansing. TIbi, Bishara and others now face the challenge of convincing Palestinian voters that their vote still counts and that the system can work - as one Professor noted, the damage has already been done. New Israel Fund President Peter Edelman got it right: "The decision today upholds a bedrock principle that underlies democracy - the right of all citizens to stand for election, the right of minorities to political representation, and the supremacy of the rule of law. At the same time, all who love Israel's democracy must be concerned that it continues to be necessary to call on the Supreme Court to be the last line of defense for such critical democratic values." Meanwhile, Sharon's problems continue to mount...

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