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Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Democracy? Photo: AP
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Democracy? Photo: AP
Netanyahu, Clinton and Abbas. Talks of peace in the Middle East Photo: Moshe Milner, GPO
Netanyahu, Clinton and Abbas. Talks of peace in the Middle East Photo: Moshe Milner, GPO

Arab democracy good for us

Op-ed: Democracy in Arab world to produce stronger, more durable peace treaties with Israel

Nechama Duek
Published: 02.10.11, 19:06 / Israel Opinion

The images we receive from Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen make me happy. They indicate that the Arab world is finally joining the global trend of shifting from dictatorships to democracies. As we know, democracy isn’t perfect, yet a better alternative has yet to be invented.

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Those who look at developments in the Middle East see a picture whereby this part of the world has its own rules: Some 200 million citizens are living under regimes ranging from military dictatorships to military-backed kingdoms and republics such as Egypt, where a president elected to the job for the past 29 years tries to appoint his son as successor.


Those who keep looking eastward will discover yet another worrisome fact – there are no democracies in the area lying between Israel and India. Not even one.


Some people would say that it is better for Israel to be surrounded by regimes where power is concentrated in the hands of one person. Yet this is far from being certain. Surprisingly, our policymakers again failed to learn the lesson from what happened in eastern Europe starting with the fall of the Berlin Wall and Glasnost in the Soviet Union.


Accelerated democratization process

My estimation is that within five to 10 years, we shall witness an accelerated process of democratization in the Arab states around us. This will happen to Syria, which is also home to a regime transferred from father to son under the army’s bayonets, in Iran, and possibly in Jordan as well.


After our neighbors get used to living under democracy, it would finally become possible to speak a common language with them. After all, democracy is the rule of the people, and when the people engage in conversation with their neighbors, they will decide in favor of the broad interest, that is, in favor of peace.


Moreover, a peace treaty signed vis-à-vis a people is stronger and more durable than an agreement with a dictator. Also, the fact is that rioters in Egypt are not burning Israel’s flags and no protests are being held outside Israel’s embassy.


The Muslim Brotherhood is not leading the struggle in Egypt, but rather, the simple folk who seek work and dignity. The same people who are sick and tired of seeing the elite living like noblemen while they fail to move up. Similarly, the students in Iran hit the streets in the past, and they shall return.



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