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August 27, 2014 / 1 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Charles Bybelezer’

Democracy In Egypt?

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Much has been said of the popular uprising in Egypt that led to the demise of the 30-year autocratic rule of President Hosni Mubarak. For the most part, the discourse has centered on the issue of whether or not Egypt can emerge from its uprising as the first “self-made” democracy in the Arab world. In this respect, most pundits have focused their analyses on those obstacles that might prevent Egypt’s democratization, in particular, the hindering influence of the radical Islamic Muslim Brotherhood.

This is very telling, as, quite notably, little attention has been paid to the elements that might encourage Egypt’s democratic actualization. The reason being there simply aren’t any. Or, to lend credence to the 50,000 or so Western-educated, middle-class, Egyptian Twitter phenoms – to which the “revolution” has been credited – democratic “prerequisites” are too few and far between to reasonably suppose they will significantly affect or shape Egypt’s future political makeup.

“Democracy” is the political manifestation of a system of ingrained societal values. In other words, democracies are contingent upon, and subsequently sustained by, communal norms. In the absence of a populace that values democratic principles, and is committed to upholding them, democracies cannot persist. Accordingly, democracy cannot be arbitrarily imposed “top-down”; in order for freedom to flourish, it must evolve naturally out of a society’s continued adherence to the doctrine of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Advertisement

In Egypt’s case, this truth is being ignored. Yet the near-complete absence of democratic building blocks in Egypt will be the single greatest determinant in its political evolution. That is, without a sturdy moral foundation upon which to craft a democracy, the probability that one will magically appear in Egypt is nil. Therefore, the primary reason for which Egypt’s democratic experiment is certain to fail is not the Muslim Brotherhood – although the “Brothers” will do their best to hasten this result – or poverty, or corruption, or Israel, but rather the Egyptian people themselves.

That there is not one democracy among the 22 Arab states should provide enough evidence that the words “democracy” and “Arab” do not mix. To understand why is to understand the Arab mindset, or, as is commonly referred to, the “Arab Street.”

Arab culture is not imbued with enlightened principles but rather is defined and fueled by a quest for power, which, if achieved, is then expressed through strength; not strength of character, mind you, as in Western societies, but rather domination.

This is why Arab states are governed by autocracies; in keeping with the predominant Arab mentality, those who rise to power impose their will on and subjugate an “inferior” population. This may seem antithetical to Western observers, but it is the inevitable outcome – the “raison d’être” – in societies that reject the democratic ethos that “all men are created equal.” For this reason, Arab regimes not only strive for power but fight at all costs to not relinquish it, for doing so, in effect, would be tantamount to negating the self.

The obsession with power also accounts for the Arabs’ centuries-old disparagement and mistreatment of Jews. Originally, Jews were persecuted in Arab lands because they had vastly surpassed the Arabs in nearly every facet – that is, except physically. And so the Arabs expressed their inherent need to dominate by murdering Jews. And when Israel came into being many pogroms later, it too appeared physically weak. So the Arabs attacked, but lost; then attacked, and lost; then attacked again, repetitively, but lost. When finally it was realized that Israel could not be vanquished militarily, the Arabs resorted to demonizing Israel by means of a ferocious propaganda campaign aimed at delegitimizing the Jewish state into oblivion.

Arab hatred of Israel, and the West, in general, is predictable – it is the invariable consequence of defining one’s identity in terms of strength while being relatively impotent.

Nonetheless, people marvel at the turmoil in the Middle East; that is because they are unable to conceptualize the true nature of Arab society. In this respect, they fail to attribute the absence of Arab democracies to its proper cause: democratic ideals are entirely foreign to the Arab world.

Once we come to understand this, and shift our frame of reference accordingly, we can begin to view the Arab world from the correct vantage point. In doing so, we come to appreciate that so-called Arab ills are entirely of their own making.

The ‘PaliLeaks’ Truth

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

Much has been said of the revelations known as “PaliLeaks” – the release to the public by Al Jazeera of thousands of confidential peace process-related Palestinian documents. The ensuing discourse has largely focused on the details of “this” or the ramifications of “that,” and whether the alleged concessions offered by the Palestinian Authority to Israel in past negotiations – including its purported inclination to divide Jerusalem, forgo the Palestinian “right of return” and recognize Israel’s legitimacy – were in fact genuine, a ploy, or altogether fabricated.

This misses the point entirely.

The analysis of the documents by diverse individuals precludes the derivation of any uniform (fundamental) understanding of the importance of PaliLeaks. The inevitable outcome of this process is the evolution of multiple, conflicting “truths,” which merely reflect varying worldviews. As such, it is tempting to minimize the significance of PaliLeaks by classifying its significance as “subjective.”

However, there is one categorical truth that has emerged – and been overlooked. This realization can be qualified as absolute, for its root cause, and the context in which it was revealed, are both well defined. This truth also has the benefit of being widely observable, which further reduces the influence of interpretive partiality. And this truth is “reactionary” in character, thus serving as an emotional barometer that has the advantage of gauging deep-seated, perhaps even subconscious convictions.

The irony is that this truth is derived not from the confidential materials themselves but rather from the near-homogeneous overwhelming Palestinian response to PaliLeaks. The truth revealed is that Palestinians, barring a monumental cross-generational transformation, will never mandate their leadership to make the compromises needed to forge peace with Israel.

The Palestinian reaction to PaliLeaks was twofold. First, the Palestinian leadership condemned Al Jazeera, with PA President Mahmoud Abbas saying, “This is shameful. These documents are designed to create confusion. In fact, these were Israeli [proposals and do not reflect Palestinian positions].”

In other words, the Palestinian Authority did damage control, refuting even the possibility that it may have acted sensibly, to immunize itself against charges of “colluding” with the Jewish state. And the Palestinian populace did just that, accusing the PA of conspiring with Israel and branding its so-called leaders as traitors.

This speaks volumes about both the duplicitous nature of the Palestinian leadership and the unyielding character of Palestinian society.

That many pundits agree that the Palestinian Authority has been marginalized by PaliLeaks is quite instructive. It shows that acting rationally and making compromises in negotiations are deemed irrational by most Palestinians. Furthermore, the mere suggestion that radical Palestinian elements will now be strengthened – Hamas, for instance – reinforces the Palestinians’ propensity to reject “moderation” in the name of fanaticism. For there is nothing moderate, irrespective of circumstance, about empowering a terrorist organization through popular consent.

None of this, however, is news. The majority of Palestinians are already known to maintain extremist attitudes. Many people chose to ignore the results of the 2005 Palestinian election, but the fact remains that the Palestinians elected Hamas, a militant Islamic organization overtly committed to Israel’s destruction, to represent them. Accordingly, one can only assume that the average Palestinian relates more closely to the statement “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam obliterates it,” as it appears in the Hamas charter, than to mutual affirmation of “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” the cornerstone of democratic philosophy.

PaliLeaks may or may not have exposed a willingness on the part of a select few Palestinians to cooperate with Israel, although, not surprisingly, those in the Palestinian Authority – including PA President Abbas – who are said to have “compromised” with Israel are, to begin with, illegitimate as they are all unelected. Therefore, as is now recognized, they do not speak for the Palestinian masses.

Even more tellingly, PaliLeaks proves the majority of Palestinians are opposed to reason and compromise. To accept that the best Palestinians can hope for is Jerusalem as the shared capital of both Israel and “Palestine,” or that five million “refugees” will not be permitted to flood Israel into oblivion, is not a matter of making concessions but merely the acceptance of reality.

Accordingly, PaliLeaks teaches one irrefutable lesson: that borders, Jerusalem, “refugees,” “settlements,” and “blockades” have never constituted insurmountable obstacles to achieving peace, but rather that the lone barrier to the actualization of “Palestine” existing alongside Israel are the Palestinians themselves.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-palileaks-truth/2011/02/02/

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