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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Dec. 23, 2004 / 11 Teves, 5765

Do We Believe?

By Jonathan Tobin

Faith in democracy is at stake in debate about Iraq and the Palestinians



http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | American liberals are deeply worried these days that the White House is being run by messianic evangelicals with an agenda.




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But whether or not such fears are overblown partisan hogwash or not, there is more than a kernel of truth in that notion, though not in the way many of President George W. Bush's critics think.


The man at the head of our government and his minions are apparently hooked on a mission to convert the world. But the "good news" they are spreading isn't Christianity.


It is democracy.


The Bush democracy craze was first apparent in June of 2002, when the president turned American foreign policy on its head and announced that the Palestinians could have a state of their own, but only if they also embraced democractic practices.


But contrary to the admonitions of those who pooh-poohed that speech — insisting it was just a tactic to marginalize the very undemocratic and terrorist leader at the head of the Palestinian Authority — Bush's obsession has survived the demise of Yasser Arafat. It has even become the key to the administration's biggest and riskiest project: the transformation of Iraq.

ROOTS OF MODERATION
Those who doubt that this is a matter of true belief (and not just a stratagem) have been forced to contend with the president's embrace of a book by Natan Sharansky, the former Soviet dissident and prisoner of Zion who is now a member of the Israeli Cabinet.


According to news reports, Bush not only devoured a copy of the book himself, but has made it required reading for everyone else at the White House — and even tried to push the slim volume on foreign leaders.

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Co-authored by Ron Dermer, The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny & Terror centers on Sharansky's argument that his own experience in resisting the "evil empire" of the Soviet Union should inform our view of not only the prospects for Middle East peace, but the future of international diplomacy. (ClickHERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.)


The book preaches that peace with Palestinians, as well as Islamists elsewhere, is predicated on the transformation of their societies into democracies, and not on appeasing the demands of radicals or relying on Arab authoritarians to suppress violent elements.


He believes moderate societies create leaders dedicated to peace, not the other way around. And that is a message being promoted by the Bush administration in Iraq and in the Israeli-Arab conflict.


But this almost-messianic belief in the power of liberal democracy has run into fierce resistance, and not just from the terrorists who are murdering election officials on the streets of Baghdad.


Critics of the drive for liberalization of the Arab world assert in almost racist fashion that liberal Western democracy is incompatible with the core values of Islamic societies.


More credibly, others claim that if the Arab world were composed of democracies, rather than authoritarian regimes and corrupt monarchies, the results would be even worse for the West than the current crop of leaders.


The experience of Algeria, which more than a decade ago attempted to switch from a dictatorship into a democracy, resulted in an election victory for totalitarian Islamic radicals that was quickly snuffed out by the military. Years of bloody civil war followed.


As far as the Palestinians are concerned, had convicted multiple terrorist murderer Marwan Barghouti carried out his threat to run against Mahmoud Abbas in the elections scheduled for next month, he might well have won. That might have dashed any hope of exploiting the opportunity for progress toward peace that has followed in the wake of Arafat's death.


WHAT'S THE ALTERNATIVE?


But the notion that Arabs — or anyone else — can insulate themselves from the democracy bug in the age of the Internet and global communication is nuts. The Wilsonian fervor that animates both Sharansky and his disciple in the Oval Office may strike some as naive, but what do the cynics offer in its place?


And those who say that insistence on democracy is merely a way to put off peace have got it backward; without democratic reform, any peace agreement would be as meaningless as the Oslo fiasco.


Those pious liberals like former President Jimmy Carter, who always think killers like Arafat can, if sufficiently appeased, be relied upon to contain terrorists, are dead wrong. Indeed, Israel's whole Oslo experiment — based on the late Yitzhak Rabin's thought that Arafat would squelch terrorists in a way Israel could not — proved the opposite.


The violence and hate that seem to be the touchstones of Palestinian and Iraqi society are antithetical to democracy. Yet that's precisely why it is right for the United States to use its power and influence to push for change in these societies. And that should be the case even in those instances where the authoritarians — like the leaders of Pakistan and Egypt — seem to be the only ones there who can stand up to the radicals.


Sharansky writes, "I have no doubt that the Arabs want to be free. Many ask how I can be so sure when there is no Arab Sakharov or Arab Ghandi. I am sure because I know that the extent of dissent in a society, like so many things in life, is a function of price."


If the price of dissent is certain death, then few will speak up. But if outside pressure for reform lowers that price — and the United States has the power to do just that — then democrats will eventually come forward.


The Bush/Sharansky thesis isn't a form of imperialism or a latter-day version of Rudyard Kipling's poetic advocacy of "the white man's burden." It is nothing more than the same faith in freedom and the triumph of the human spirit that lies behind every revolutionary advance in human rights throughout history.


Betting on democracy in the Arab world is a gamble. But if we are to fail — and we might — isn't it far better for America — and Israel — to do it this way, rather than to lose without even standing up for what we believe?


The cynics are wrong. Faith in democracy is no unworthy creed. It is also one form of evangelism that may have the power to redeem not only the Arabs, but ourselves as well.

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JWR contributor Jonathan S. Tobin is executive editor of the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent. Let him know what you think by clicking here.

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© 2004, Jonathan Tobin