Democracy – Arab Style

When I started this ramble through the Palestinian soul, I gave you four points, and I’ve been going on and on ad nauseum with them. Here’s the fourth and last:

The Palestinians do NOT understand democracy, except in a very superficial way.

I think that it was about 14 years ago, just after I had arrived in Israel, when there was an election in Lebanon. The Syrians were in control, and they selected the candidates – and the winners – beforehand.

Then they had the poll, where the carefully selected ‘winners’ won by a landslide. The newly elected politicians then went on to crow about how wonderful Lebanese democracy was – unashamedly referring to their corrupt victory as an example for others to follow.

There was not even a ripple of disagreement from other Arab countries – certainly not from the Palestinians.

And, they’re not being disingenuous. They really don’t understand how democracy works.

It is true that democracy is about the ‘will of the people’. But, you can only have a ‘will of the people’, if each person of ‘the people’ is worth hearing from.

In traditional Arab society, there is no such thing. It is an extremely hierarchical society, with each level answering to the next. And, once you get down to the level of the individual… well, there isn’t anything left.

Having said that, the situation DOES seem to be changing. The area IS being somewhat Westernized, but it’s a slow process. And, it is bumping up against those forces that think democracy is an abomination.

And, traditional Islam is one of those forces.