The Right Coast
January 12, 2005
Sharansky on Palestinian Freedom
By Mike Rappaport
Natan Sharansky has a powerful article arguing that peace between Israel and the Palestinians depends on whether the Palestinian Authority promotes freedom and that this requires the World Community to pressure it to do so. Here is an excerpt:
Whether the election of Abu Mazen will be a turning point in the search for peace depends critically on whether the Free World, led by the U.S., is prepared to link its policies toward his new government to the degree of freedom the Palestinian Authority affords its own citizens.While Sharansky is certainly right that freedom for the Palestinians would greatly improve the situation, it is quite possible that Palestinian society is simply not capable of freedom any time in the near future. While many have argued that Iraq is not ready for democracy -- a claim I disagree with -- a comparison between Iraq and the Palestinians shows just how much further the Palestinians are from the necessary preconditions of democracy. Iraq once enjoyed constitutional monarchy and the Kurds, Shia, and even probably a majority of the Sunnis want democracy. Among the Palestinians, the civil society is so torn by violence and conflicted, and there is so much corruption, that is not clear democracy has any chance.
Still, the US and the World should do what is possible to introduce the rule of law, markets, and democracy into the area. But it is important for Israel to have a wall and a strong defense, because the chance of there being Iraqi freedom is probably an order of magnitude greater than the chance of the Palestinians creating a free society.