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Arab Press: Imprisonment Of Former PM Olmert Highlights Israeli Democracy, Arab World’s Corruption

TEL AVIV – The incarceration of former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on corruption charges has sparked a range of articles in the Arab press praising Israeli democracy and decrying the Arab world’s failure to punish its own corrupt leaders, MEMRI reported.

In the London daily Al-Hayat, Palestinian-Syrian writer Majed Kayali listed several high-ranking Israeli officials who were either imprisoned or impeached following various offences. The writer called on Arabs to stop denying that Israel is a democratic state and asserted that Israel’s democracy ensures its continued supremacy over the Arabs, whose regimes are corrupt and tyrannical.

“The most important thing is that [Israel] is run in modern democratic ways, as a state of institutions, laws, and a constitution, in accordance with the liberal democratic method that is based on separation of powers and transition of government, and in which the citizens are free and equal,” writes Kayali.

“This, in fact, is what sets it apart from our regimes, and ensures its continued development, stability, and supremacy. What this means is that [Israeli supremacy] relies on more than just its military might and its alliance with the West.”

Kayali states that while in Israel the laws are the same for presidents, prime ministers, police officers, and regular citizens, in the Arab world regular citizens don’t enjoy even the most basic rights and liberties. Arab regimes, according to Kayali, export their resources, squander their people’s income, kill their own citizens en masse, and even “bring in foreign armies and militias to kill, expel, and besiege their own peoples.”

Kayali continues by saying that Israel is superior to Arab regimes in economics, science, technology, administration, freedoms, and higher education, and any attempts to deny this only adds to the Arab world’s “frustration and backwardness.”

However, Kayali was quick to add that none of this contradicts the fact that Israel is still an illegitimate, thieving, imperialist, racist state and “controls the Palestinians by force of arms.”

Meanwhile, the director of Al-Jazeera in Jordan, Hassan Ahmad Al-Shubaki, claimed that Olmert’s imprisonment would never have happened in an Arab state and Arab regimes would do well to follow Israel’s lead.

Writing in the Jordanian daily Al-Ghad, Al-Shubaki notes that the list of the world’s most corrupt nations includes six Arab countries. The news of Olmert’s imprisonment, he says, did not earn any Arab commentary because Arabs, unaccustomed to such news, believe that senior figures are immune to accountability. He added that the rule of law and integrity are foreign concepts to Arabs.

According to Al-Shubaki, the news of the Israeli prime minister’s sentence should put Arabs “to shame, in light of our ongoing lies.”

“The discourse about integrity in the Arab newspapers, TV screens, courthouses, and parliaments only throws dust in our eyes, since despite the crimes committed daily against our people, we have never had a case like Olmert’s,” he writes.

The only thing that is truly deeply ingrained in most Arab countries is corruption. Events and crises are deviously manufactured in order to allow corruption to continue, and the countries’ resources are sold to the highest bidder in the service of this corruption.

The most important lesson to be learned from the Olmert affair, and the one that shames all of us and the corrupt Arab elite, is what he said after the verdict was handed down: No one is above the law!

The latter remark was made by Olmert when he accepted the verdict against him. On Monday, he began his 19-month jail sentence for bribery and obstruction of justice committed while he served as Jerusalem’s mayor.

Breitbart Jerusalem reported that Olmert’s imprisonment also generated praise for Israel’s democracy in Palestinian circles. Former Palestinian Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs Sufian Abu Zaida wrote that Olmert’s incarceration is “proof that in Israel there is complete equality before the law, judicial independence, and separation of powers. This is the rule of law everybody subscribes to. No personal connection or acquaintance came to their rescue, not a single person could save them from their punishment. This is why they are where they are, and we are where we are.”

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