Tuesday, June 25, 2002

Bush Speech
Whatever Asparagirl may say, I feel a bit more optimistic (or should I say a little less pessimistic) following President Bush's speech.

It's nice to have the President of the U.S. giving an address, which shows such a degree of sympathy for Israel’s interests.

Palestinian Reforms
People in the West seem to think that a Western style democracy is the answer to corruption, oppression, extremism and fundamentalism in the Palestinian Authority and among Palestinians. This may not be the case. The Palestinian’s brethren, the Israeli Arabs, have lived in a real Western style democracy for 54 years. If we observe the voting patterns of this segment of the Israeli population, we often see a tendency towards voting as a group, according to family ("Hamoola" - extended family) affiliations and interests. Voting according to individual political views is not necessarily the norm.

Thus, although elected in true democratic procedure, regional government in predominantly Arab areas in Israel is more likely to be corrupt and characterized by widespread nepotism than in regional government in predominantly Jewish areas. (This is not to say that these problems don't exist in Jewish municipalities. Of course they do. Luckily, both Jews and Arabs alike have to answer to the legal system.)

It is quite likely that the new political and economic institutions with separate powers of government, suggested by President Bush for the Palestinians in his speech, would also be ridden with corruption and nepotism.

In view of this, it would be naןve to suppose that full democratization of the Palestinian Authority would solve the problems at hand.

It would prove ineffective to reform the institutions without attempting to transform the population's political and social way of thinking. Maybe this is something the U.N. should be doing - educating children and adults about governmental alternatives - i.e. how democracies work; checks and balances; separation of state authorities; free economy, and correct norms of public administration.

I can only imagine that most Palestinians neither understand nor trust Western concepts of democracy, public administration and free economy, which probably seem to them like anarchy. We can't force these things on them, without sensitive preparation. Furthermore, they would probably perceive Western overseeing of political, administrative and economic measures of reform as demeaning. If these issues aren't seriously and sensitively addressed than even if they actually manage to implement meaningful reforms, they are likely to be a dismal failure.