Palestinian Columnist: Arab Countries Must Learn From Israel, Adopt Free Election System

An orthodox Jew casts his ballot on election day for the 20th Knesset on March 17, 2015 in Bnei Brak, Israel. Israel's general election voting has begun today as polls show on that Chairman of the Zionist Union party, Isaac Herzog stands as the only rival to current Prime Minister …
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TEL AVIV – Following the Netherlands House of Representatives’ election of a Dutch-Moroccan Muslim woman as speaker, a columnist for the Palestinian Authority newspaper blamed Arab regimes’ “swing towards violence and terrorism” on the lack of democratic electoral systems, and said that Israel was “superior” because it maintained regular elections.

The article in Al-Ayyam, translated by MEMRI , begins with the columnist, Hamada Fara’aneh, bemoaning the fact that neither a woman nor a member of a religious minority would ever be elected to senior positions in Arab governments.

“Can you imagine … a Christian as head of the Palestinian National Council and Legislative Council … or a Jew as head of the Moroccan parliament?” writes Fara’aneh.

Fara’aneh posits that the notion that “all citizens have equal rights regardless of ethnicity, gender, religion, or school of thought” is a “paradigm that we are lacking in the Arab and Muslim world.”

She writes that most Arab leaders obtain power using tanks rather than the ballot box, and in the rare cases in which they were elected democratically – such as the terrorist group Hamas in Gaza – they subsequently preserved their autocracy through military might.

By contrast, Fara’aneh contends, “Israel has something that strengthens it and helps it maintain superiority: It provides for continuity in government [while allowing] the leadership [itself] to change and new blood to be pumped into the veins of its institutions by accepting the results of the elections [that are held] regularly and sequentially.

“In all the Arab regimes, there is an absence of pluralism, of expansion of the basis for partnership, of continuity of rule, and of acceptance of election results,” argues Fara’aneh.

She concludes that this “malady” is responsible for the Arab world’s “regression, erosion … and its swing towards violence and terrorism.”

An editorial in the London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi said that the election of Dutch Labor MP Khadija Arib as speaker proves that Arabs and Muslims can assimilate into the West despite their marginalization.

“Arabs and Muslims awaken each morning to disasters, occupying armies, tyranny, wars, conflicts, and massacres and starvation from all sides – making them feel like they are being constantly plotted against and that Allah is testing them,” states the editorial.

It continues by claiming that many Muslims in war torn countries dream of emigrating to the “Western paradise” but are trapped by “the racism that greets them wherever they end up.”

However, the editorial ends by saying that the election of Khadija Arib proves that Arabs and Muslims can “find their place in the sun” despite their systematic marginalization in Western democracies.

“Khadija Arib is proof that Western culture and its humanistic values can incorporate the other – and she is one of the best responses by us Arabs and Muslims to the Western racism and the tyranny against Arabs in all its forms.”