A recent poll highlighted that if asked to vote  today, less than 15% of Palestinians would vote for Hamas.  After the Gaza  debacle, this is not surprising.  But the tragedy is that they are now entrenched there and they will be hard-pressed to accept elections.

Neither Fatah in the West Bank nor Hamas in Gaza have an incentive to permit new elections where each ?governs,? as they both know the common thread among the Palestinian people is disenchantment and disgust with the corruption and destruction of those in power.

The achiles heel of democracy is that totalitarian and fundamentalist rules will be happy to use it to get into power, but will then seek to break the ropes that got them up there.

Democratic elections do really work, PROVIDED the following conditions exist:

Institutions
are strong enough to ensure continuous cycles of voting so that those in  power won?t entrench themselves and change the rules of the game (as the theocratic Ayatollahs have done in Iran)

Security
and political conditions permit people to truly express themselves freely

Alternatives
can rise up without suppression from those in power

Some mechanism exists to prevent potential abusers from usurping control and undermining free elections.

At the very least, a filter mechanism should be in place to prevent parties and platforms that do not abide by the rules of  democracy from standing for elections. Who will be the arbiter is a good question. But some self-protection mechanism needs to exist, or else the bad guys will get in and block the good ones from taking them out once the people discover their true colors all too late?

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Mandate Madness

Published under Middle East, OneVoice Movement Aug 08, 2007

Since 2002 we have slowly recruited more and more  citizens to join the OneVoice Movement.  Never have I seen so much energy in the drive to get more signatories.  The OneVoice Palestine office in Ramallah asked Abdullah Hamarshe, who normally works as the security guard, to focus on signing up people in his home area of Jenin.  The Israeli office  posted a sign right by the door where people exit asking everyone to take some OV
Mandates and sign people up.  The energy is building up. People are starting to organically join.  We are getting there.

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Palestinian Education

Published under Middle East, OneVoice Movement Aug 07, 2007

Final high school exam grade results were released in the West Bank
today. I could not get through for hours on calls to Jawal
(Palestinian) cell phones. Every year this day lines get tied by
parents anxious to learn of their childrens’ results.

***********

This is usually the case in Gaza also. With Hamas having seized
totalitarian control of Gaza, Hamas refused to allow the educational
national committee to manage the grading process – and instead
instituted its own. This was quickly rejected by the PA. So all
children in Gaza are now in educational limbo.

.

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If there is no progress towards a two-state  solution, the next wave of violence will be an INTRAfadah within the West  Bank.

***

 Intrafadah: a violent uprising like the first and second intifadah, only this time instead of Palestinians fighting the Israelis, the fighting will be within Palestinian factions, as it was in Gaza, pitying Fatah vs. Hamas, and as it can be in the West Bank, if there is no progress towards peace AND parallel progress to build Palestinian political institutions and to ferret out gangs and militias.

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Too Close To See The Wisdom?

Published under China, Global, Life Aug 06, 2007

The Chinese character for Crisis is made up of two symbols: danger, and opportunity.

This insight is by now known all-too-well in the Western world.

What is less known is that most Chinese people have never thought of this beautiful relationship.  For them “crisis” is “crisis.”  And if you push them to explain what that word consists of, and whether they have ever realized of the connection of the components within the word, most will be thinking about that connection for the first time!

The same often happens in our daily lives and cultures and languages.  We are too close to exceptional wisdom which surrounds us.  We don’t question assumptions, we take things for granted, and we assume all facts as they are provided to us – particularly when they are printed or broadcast via media. 

Humanity would be so much better off if we humans were more critically aware and curious, and fight the herd instinct.

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