There are those among the Palestinians who recognize and applaud Israeli democracy and equality – despite widespread allegations that the Israeli government is racist.
As Jerusalem’s democratic process is under fire by US President Barack Obama and opposition leaders due to alleged discrimination against Israeli Arabs, the Jewish state was supported by an unexpected source – a Palestinian intellectual.
Following the recent Israeli elections, Imad Al-Falouji, head of the Gaza-based Institute for Intercultural Dialogue, wrote an article titled “Israel’s Democracy and our Anarchy.”
In the article, MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute) reports, he praised Israel’s way of handling controversy as well as the Israeli political parties for concerning themselves with the citizens’ well-being and with domains such as economy, education and security; this, in contrast to Palestinian parties which, he said, are concerned mostly with political grandstanding and do not seek solutions to the peoples’ everyday problems.
Al-Falouji called on the Palestinians to emulate the Israeli Arabs who united their ranks in order to bring about change.
“There is no shame in seeing reality as it is, and no wisdom in becoming experts [only] at cursing and disparaging our enemy. I know how difficult it is to compare the internal Palestinian situation – our shaping of our policy, the internal relations among us and our ways of resolving our differences – with the domestic situation of the enemy that is occupying our lands, usurping our holy sites and denying our most minimal rights. But this enemy is proving to us and to the international community that despite its tyranny and aggression, it surpasses us in many ways that are no longer hidden from any observer possessing a minimal degree of objectivity.”
“Anyone examining the Israeli entity is amazed by the extent of internal disagreement on every issue between the religious and secular [sectors], and [also] by the disagreements within the sectors,” he continued. “They have a [political] right, center and left…and every perception has proponents and opponents, and every senior has an [entire] dossier of charges against him. But, despite all this, they have passed laws that govern [the handling of] these disagreements and set out a common goal: that of serving the State of Israel and the people of Israel. They manage to use the internal disagreements as a source of strength…”
“But we, ‘the possessors of truth’ – look at what is happening to us. We strike out in every direction without an agreed-upon plan or purpose. Each party or group has its own plan and goal. We do not believe in a unifying means. We renounce all the laws and charters, and have destroyed everything that united us. Each group claims to possess the absolute truth and [presents] the others’ [beliefs] as absolute lies. We do not possess the ability to listen to the other. Anarchy rules the day: political, economic, social and even conceptual anarchy.
“Let’s look at the campaign platforms of the Israeli parties, and what they focused on. All of them agreed on the need to serve the people on the socio-economic level, promote employment, cultivate the family and solve its problems, eradicate unemployment, promote education and achieve security for all citizens. They do not focus so much on political sparring and on empty grandstanding.
“But in our [political arena], everyone talks about politics and general foreign-[policy] affairs, and only rarely does a party concern itself with improving the lives of the people and resolving the internal crises from which they suffer. Moreover, nobody proposes solutions to anything.”
“I know this comparison is difficult and may anger those who refuse to face the bleak reality. But there is no alternative but to say these things. Perhaps some of us will wake up and take the opportunity to improve our situation. Our brothers the Palestinians inside [i.e., the Israeli Arabs] have set up a model of unity [by uniting all their political parties in the Knesset], and have thereby proved that we [Palestinians] are capable of change when we realize the danger, and that there is yet hope.”
Falouji is a former Hamas member who left the movement in 1996 and later served as information minister and as an advisor to late terrorist and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.