Yalla Peace: Let’s look on the bright side

It may not seem that way now, but democracy in Egypt – if it is allowed to take place – will be a good thing.

By RAY HANANIA
February 8, 2011 22:22
2 minute read.
An Egyptian protestor holds a freedom sign, Sunday

Egypt no to mubarak_311. (photo credit: MELANIE LIDMAN)

Democracy is much like making mensiff. No one wants to watch the lamb get slaughtered or the ladies roll up their sleeves to mix the ingredients.

People just want to enjoy it.

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It can be messy. Sometimes, very messy. But in the long run, it’s what’s best for everyone. It may not seem that way now, but democracy in Egypt – if it is allowed to take place – will be a good thing.

The problem is that in the short run, democracy is vulnerable to other people’s wants. These people don’t care about the interests of those clamoring for civil rights, and may be influenced by forces that fear change.

No one fears change in Egypt more than Israel, the US and several Arab countries like Jordan and Syria.

After all, democracy doesn’t have a great track record in the Arab world.

When offered to the Palestinians, it quickly stumbled. The moderate secular Palestinians, who are the majority, were divided over who would represent them. That split the pro-Fatah vote, allowing the religious extremists of Hamas to take control.

That’s not democracy. It’s a mini-dictatorship.

Hamas saw an opportunity to use democracy to undermine the peace process, which had created the basis on which the elections were held in the first place.

Needless to say, had things been allowed to develop and mature, I believe there would have been another election, with better results. But that never happened because instead of actually believing in the power of democracy, the US and Israel intervened, messing things up even more.

TODAY, THERE are two governments in the Palestinian territories – the religious fanatics who oppose peace with Israel, and the secular moderates who support it. In a stagnant political environment, time is not on the side of the moderates.

Every day of stalemate sees Hamas gaining strength.

Had there been no interference in Palestinian affairs, things would have worked themselves out. Voters would have eventually ousted Hamas. Its ridiculous religious extremist demands have already started to turn people off.

To do the right thing, sometimes people need to see the wrong thing happen. But the meddling blinded the Palestinian public to the extremist fanaticism of Hamas, and Israel’s arrests of its leaders only fed the group’s popularity.

Today, Hamas continues to feed off of the failure of the peace process.

Democracy is the antidote to tyranny. It doesn’t always seem that way, but it is always better than relying on dictators. Didn’t America learn anything from its experiment with Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq War? The same choices are rearing their ugly heads in Egypt.

Israel doesn’t want Hosni Mubarak out because it believes his successor would likely revoke the peace accord, or change the terms significantly, though that may well happen. But even if it did, in a democracy, Egypt would return to peaceful public discussion and debate.

Egypt’s turmoil might prompt Israel to do the right thing and move forward with the peace process.

What democracy needs are strong voices who believe in it – Palestinian, Israeli, Arab and Jew.

We need to come together because democracy is the only thing that will make the Middle East safe.

The writer is an award-winning columnist and Chicago radio talk show host. www.YallaPeace.com


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