Israel: Arab world not ready for democracy

Tuesday, January 03, 2012 |  Ryan Jones

In the West, the "Arab Spring" has been hailed as the rise of democracy and personal freedom in the Arab Middle East. But in reality, the Arab Spring has given rise to the kind of Islamist forces that seized power in Iran's ostensibly pro-democracy movement in 1979.

Israel's deputy prime minister and former army chief, Moshe Ya'alon, told reporters last month that the problem is Western powers instinctively promote and support pro-democracy movements as though elections alone will give birth to democratic freedoms.

"We believe you cannot reach democracy by elections," said Ya'alon. "We believe it is a long process that should start with education."

Ya'alon pointed out that it took Europe hundreds of years to fully develop real democracy. But for some reason, the West believes the Arab world will transition from totalitarianism to that same real democracy overnight.

As evidence that this is simply the wrong approach, Middle East expert Dr. Mordechai Kedar of Bar-Ilan University told Israel National News that it is precisely this ill-advised rush to elections that has now given rise to Islamists across the region.

What was once a problem confined to Iran has now spread to Lebanon with the rise to power of Hizballah, to the Palestinian-controlled territories with the landslide electoral victory of Hamas in 2006, and to Egypt with the Muslim Brotherhood's current success at the polls.

The Muslim-dominated Middle East is simply not fertile ground for Western-style democracy, as many observers have argued for years. It remains a society where the guy with the most guns or with the highest propensity for brutality will always walk away the victor because most voters are too scared to elect anyone else. Either that, or they take pride in the power demonstrated by the most violent gun-toters, as was the case for many in Hamas' surprise win.

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