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January 13, 1989 - Image 18

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-01-13

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Continued from Page 1

found ways of brokering disa-
greements without resorting
to armed conflict.
Democracies have too many
negotiation options for get-
ting a half of a loaf for the
populace to be willing to have
their lives endangered for a
possible second half. When
people participate freely in
the political process, they
make sure the government
realizes that their lives are
too precious to be wasted un-
necessarily on the battlefield.

What are the objections
against Israel trying to create
an independent democratic
political entity out of Judea
and Samaria to be called, say,
Paleo-Judea? The most
salient one is the lack of
democracy in the Arab world.
Many would consider the ef-
fort sheer folly out of the
belief that Arabs and
democracy mix like water and
oil. And since democracy as
the means of guaranteeing
the right of the people to non-
violently remove those in
power hardly exists in the
Arab world, how could anyone
believe that Israel could bring
it about or that Arab Palesti-
nians would take to it?
These are serious objec-
tions, so serious that even
Arab Israelis do not believe it
could happen. Thus a promi,
nent Israeli Arab, after
castigating his government
and declaring that only a
Palestinian state will restore
peace to the land, admitted
candidly that even were such
a state to emerge, he would
choose to remain an Israeli
because he wants "to live in
a state where I am free to
speak my mind." Apparently,
even Israeli Arabs take it for
granted that a Palestinian
state would be no more
democratic than other Arab
states. This seems to have
resulted from the conster-
nation of Palestinians every-
where that of all the govern-
ments in the Middle East
only Israel allows Palestinian
Arabs to demonstrate.
Why then of all the Arabs
are the Palestinians ripe for
democracy? No one assumes
that their brothers and
cousins on the east bank of
the Jordan area. And are not
the events of the last several
months counterevidence? On
the contrary, we are arguing
that is precisely because so
many Palestinian Arabs have
been politicized that
democracy can take hold.
While a politically conscious
population does not guar-
antee democracy, a political-
ly passive population remains
the most fertile soil for
authoritarian rule. Since a
larger percentage of Pales-

tinian Arabs have now par-
ticipated in political acts than
probably anywhere in the
Arab world, a decisive first
step has been taken. Reject-
ing Israeli authority is a
formative experience for rejec-
ting other imposed authority.
The more Palestinian Arabs
seeking to participate in their
political destiny, the greater
the chance of democracy tak-
ing root.
Even more important is the
nature of the uprising.
Originally, it was not a coor-
dinated attack by the
authorities in or beyond the
territories. It bubbled up far
more than it trickled down.
The traditional local notables
as well as the PLO activists
were scorned. It is important
to note the degree to which
Arab women played a major

Under MacArthur,
America imposed
a policy of
demilitarization and
democratization to
produce a Japan
that would be less
likely to go to war.

role in instigating spouse par-
ticipation. There was even a
case of women stoning their
husbands for trying to stop
them from demonstrating. In
other words, the whole Arab
authority structure was
called into question.
The irony of the situation is
that it is precisely contact
w'.:h permissive Israeli
society that undermined the
traditional authoritarian
leadership of Palestinian
Arab village life which en-
abled the uprising to take
place. Moreover, much of the
intellectual backing for the
uprising comes from grad-
uates of the (mostly Israeli-
established) eight univer-
sities. Indeed, one of the most
salutary aspects to the Israeli
response has been the outcry
against press censorship by.
Arab editors. Could one im-
agine a similar outcry in, say,
Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, or
even Jordan? This democra-
tizing tendency reached its
peak in the demand for
democratic elections for
municipal refugee-camp

Lastly, the intermittent
Arab work stoppage was so ef-
fective precisely because
Israel has been able to absorb
so much of the surplus Arab
labor into its -economy. In
other words, the conditions in
the territories, which enabled
the uprising to gather steam,
Continued on Page 20

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