By Sami Zaatari
For years we have heard pro-Israeli supporters talk about how Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, well, that argument is no longer valid with the recent historical elections taking place in Neighboring Egypt. Pro-Israeli groups have often sought to legitimize themselves with this argument, that by virtue of being a democracy, Israel should be supported, and that since Israel is a democracy, it shows that they are somehow better than the Arabs.
No longer will Israeli apologists be able to use such arguments, though I have no doubt they won’t stop repeating the argument, pretending that the Arab democracy we see in Egypt does not exist. Readers may be thinking that this argument was well refuted with the case of Iraq, since Iraq is a democratic country too, were elections are held to pick and choose their leaders. While this is true, the democracy of Iraq leaves a sour taste in one’s mouth due to how it was installed. It was a foreign nation that invaded Iraq, for it’s personal agenda, and it’s own personal interests. And no doubt Israeli apologists would be so keen in telling everybody that the only reason democracy exists in Iraq is because of America, in other words Arabs themselves could not move towards freedom, they needed the west to come and do it for them.
The case of Egypt represents a stronger case, because unlike Iraq, it was the people themselves who rose up and brought the change for their society. They didn’t have a foreign nation coming in to install their own foreign agenda for their own personal interests. The Egyptians showed that they themselves could do it, they had their own authentic revolution which they succeeded in, and now they are reaping the fruits of benefit from their own blood and tears. 50 million Egyptian voters take to the streets to choose their own leaders.
What make this all the more worse, is that Israel itself was not supportive of the Egyptian revolution. The country that always lauds itself due to its democracy was the very same country against a revolution for freedom. Not only was Israel against the revolution, but so were the pro-Israeli groups, and lobbies as well. Israel and its supporters were more worried about their own interests and how they could be affected due to the revolution, and were happily content to support the dictator in order for those interests to remain protected. Even as we speak, pro-Israeli groups openly speak of their disdain of what’s happening in Egypt, in fear of the fact that the Egyptians themselves, without foreign interference, are choosing and deciding the fate and destiny of their own country, that it is Egyptians putting their country and interests first, before that of Israel and the West. And off course this is unacceptable.
Let us also not forget about Tunisia, which already held their own free and fair elections, where the people themselves, without foreign interference, decided the fate of their own country, a right they earned with their own revolution. However so, don’t expect Israeli apologists to take note, because as long as it’s an Arab democracy, by the Arabs themselves, it doesn’t really count. Democracy would only count if there were somehow some western fingerprints to the whole process, it’s unacceptable for the Arabs to have their own democracy, because who knows whom or what they could elect, which in essence is the whole point of democracy.
For Israeli apologists however, both in Israel and the West, it’s become clear that when they talk about democracy, they only talk about a democracy they like. In other words if you vote for somebody they like and approve of, somebody who puts their interests in high regard, then they will be more than happy to accept this as democracy. However if you vote for somebody they don’t like, somebody who will not represent their interests, they will then label this as not being democracy, and they will choose to reject this democracy.
At the end of the day, Israel and it’s supporters can choose or reject whatever they want to, but the reality is this, Israel is no longer the only democracy in the Middle East. It’s time for Israel and it’s supporters to get with the times.
– Sami Zaatari is an American of Palestinian-Iranian descent. Zaatari is a writer, and a public speaker who has taken part in public events of inter-faith and inter-community discussions. Zaatari also holds an MSc in the field of Middle East Politics. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.