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Voting in Israel Photo: AFP
Voting in Israel Photo: AFP
 
 

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Op-ed: Lebanese journalist says Israel's 'melting pot policy' made it strongest Mideast country

Talal Salman
Published: 02.01.13, 12:27 / Israel Opinion

BEIRUT – I assume many people throughout the Arab world were glued to their television sets as the results of the Israeli elections were being reported and analyzed the "democratic process" that unfolded. In my opinion, the event underscored the dismal situation of the Arab nations compared to the "Jewish ethnic groups" that gathered from all over the world to establish a Jewish state on Palestinian land.

 

True, Israel is an enemy state to us. It is also true that it is racist - in its path, principles and political structure. However, Israel also challenges the Arab nation because it can claim to be the "only democratic country" in the region. To some extent, Israel's democracy makes up for its flaws, aggressive nature and the crimes it commits on lands belonging to the Palestinian, Syrian, Lebanese and Egyptian nations (as Egypt is prevented from exercising its sovereignty in Sinai).

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The Arab political elite certainly watched the broadcast of the elections in the "enemy state" with great interest, ad I would like to think that the elections proved to some of its members that they are more racist than the political parties in Israel.

 

Because unlike Lebanon, the State of Israel project succeeded in creating a strong, centrist state that promotes a melting pot policy for Jews who came from the four corners of the globe. These Jews were united under Israeli citizenship – which is racist toward the Palestinians – and built a strong society.

 

In Lebanon, on the other hand, the political elite did the opposite – it divided and fragmented. Our society has turned into a collection of societies that are in a state of conflict with one another, as ethnicity prevents the advancement of a unified citizenship.

 

Take for example the meetings over the past few weeks regarding the electoral law in Lebanon. The content of these discussions is enough to destroy everything that unites the Lebanese people. They annul the concept of the Lebanese citizen and turn him into a "subject" belonging to this or that ethnic group.

 

The political elite in Lebanon are responsible not only for this fragmentation, but also for the division of society into classes and factions – and the situation is becoming more extreme with each election race. In this way, the Catholic becomes different from the Maronite, the Orthodox Arab-Lebanese is different from the Orthodox Armenian, the Druze is different from the Alawite, and so on.

 

Actually, in Lebanon there are no citizens. Rather, there are subjects that belong to the various ethnic groups. This state of affairs can easily lead to hatred in the hearts of people who belong to the same nation and the same homeland. In other words, the democratic elections in Lebanon have become a tool that has advanced the cancellation of the homeland and of Lebanese unity.

 

This situation also exists in other Arab countries that are torn by civil wars. These wars, like in Lebanon, take place because the "leaders" and "eternal regimes" of these countries fail to understand that it is their duty to protect the idea of a civil state before they talk about progress and power.

 

So, while we are destroying the political unity enterprise, our Israeli enemy has built the strongest country in our region – one that has defeated the will of the entire Arab nation - out of groups of people who were citizens of other countries.

 

The political elite in Lebanon can either feel ashamed in the face of the Israeli unity model or continue to boast that they succeeded in undermining the unity of the Lebanese nation and violating its right to a state of all its citizens.

 

Talal Salman is editor in chief of the Lebanese daily As-Safir. His article was translated to Hebrew as part of a project initiated by the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute and the I`lam Media Center for Arab Palestinians in Israel in Nazareth

 

 

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