Thursday, May 29, 2008

The law of unintended consequences - again

So the Arab media thought it would show how evil and corrupt the Jews are by highlighting the legal troubles of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert over monies he received from an American contributor. I bet they never expected the reaction of the Arab street to the story: 'No one is above the law in Israel.'

The corruption case against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has earned Israel tremendous respect throughout the Arab world, where many have called on their leaders to benefit from Israel's democratic system and independent judicial system.

Even some Arabs who describe themselves as "sworn enemies of the Zionist entity" have begun singing praise for Israel.

Over the past week, the corruption case against Olmert received wide coverage in the mainstream Arab media, prompting an outcry about the need for transparency and accountability in the Arab world.

"Show me one Arab or Islamic country where a prime minister or a senior government official was ever questioned for financial corruption or bribery," said a reader who identified himself only as Majed.

Majed, like many others, was responding to a news story on an Arab Web site about the testimony in court of American philanthropist Morris Talansky, who told police he had given Olmert more than $150,000 in cash over the course of some 14 years.

Another reader, Sami, commented: "The Israeli regime with all its defects is better than all the Arab 'democracies' and still changes ministers and governments every few years."

A Saudi national named Abdel Karim urged his Arab brethren to stop criticizing Israel and learn something about its democracy. "Before we curse Israel, we must learn from the democratic and judicial system in Israel, where no one is above the law," he wrote.

Khaled, another Saudi national, chimed in: "Although we are talking about Israel, which I have always hated very much, there is still no one above the law there."

Mahmoud al-Bakili of Yemen posted the following response on one of the Web sites: "We want this kind of accountability and transparency in the Arab and Islamic world."

Apparently this episode is inadvertently helping Israel fulfill its Biblical obligation to act as "a light unto the nations." Certainly it's tapped into a deep longing in some Arab hearts.

Mohammed in Lebanon: "Can you imagine if there was an investigation against an Arab or Muslim leader? Do you know how much money they would discover?"

Abu Yusef in Egypt: "Unfortunately, this is the real democracy. Our enemies are very good in practicing democracy. In the Arab world, our leaders steal everything and no one ever dares to ask a question."

Rashid in Saudi Arabia: "Despite all our problems with the Jews, they are much better than us in fighting corruption and revealing the truth."

Israel Lover in Saudi Arabia: "Israel is a state that deserves to exist. It deserves our profound respect. I wish I were a citizen of this state."

Hani in Ramallah: "This is democracy at its best! Enough of dictatorship in the Arab world! Let's learn from the Israeli example. Let's benefit from Israel's democracy."

Rashid Bohairi in Kuwait: "I swear Israel is a state that will succeed. They are prosecuting their prime minister because of tens of thousands of dollars. What about the millions of dollars that Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority stole? How come the Palestinian people are still hungry?"

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