Democracy and war

Lilac Sigan

Maybe someday Israel will get credit for freedoms it grants and that terrorists do not.

The sad thing about the growing trend called global terror is the cracks that it found in the timeworn concept called democracy, the way it gets into those cracks with impeccable precision, and the way it succeeds time and again in making a mockery of the concept.

Unpleasant as it may be, the fact that we are a democracy simply keeps working against us in our just attempt to fit in somehow here in the Middle East.

First of all, we are committed to the rules of the United Nations and its decisions, and to the Geneva Convention. And if we miss on any areas related to those pacts? We are immediately condemned by what seems like every country and journalist on the planet.

In contrast, Hamas has been firing, nearly daily, for years, aiming directly and intentionally into our citizen population, as far as it can, and everyone just lets it go, because Hamas is a terror organization. At the end of last week, Katyhusha rockets were fired from South Lebanon, with the clear intention of harming Israeli women and children, and it hit a home for the elderly in Israel. But these actions remain uncriticized, because noone expects anything from Hamas and Hizbullah noone is threatening sanctions, and, most importantly, the foreign press is silent.

Besides humanitarian concerns that bind our hands, there are other disadvantages to the old and weary concept called democracy. Why? Because we have a free press. Everyone can say anything, and everyone takes full advantage of that.

It is reflected in the field day that our local media industry is having. Every military move is analyzed by at least 300 sophisticated and critical analysts, who succeed in withering our leadership and self-confidence, and in dividing and polarizing the nation. And in the slim chance they miss that opportunity, then 200 other analysts can be found to explain how the communications industry has been recruited by the government, and that it is truly disgusting and anti-democratic.

And what about our leaders? Here, too, democracy works against us. Instead of one person speaking for everyone, with one clear voice that represents the State of Israel, everyone takes full advantage of their freedom of expression, and speaks his or her mind, out of personal or political interest, and what comes out is one big cacophony, a cacophony that is misunderstood, inexplicable, unclear, and above all - confusing and contradictory.

You have to admit that in this area the Palestinian Authority has a huge advantage over us: Who there even thinks to allow someone to voice his opinion? For some reason, noone seems to be bothered by that, so understandably noone rails against it. The only criticism heard is, of course, of democracy.

The story of the foreign press is the strangest. There is a war, and Israel, for very clear reasons, restricts foreign reporters from the battlefield. So what happens? The world media fumes more than ever at us. Not only that our Supreme Court eventually lets the foreign media in, because, after all, we are a democracy - and what happens? Do we see pictures of Hamas heads hiding behind children in hospitals, or setting up military camps in schools? No. The foreign media seeks out pictures of destruction in order to point a scathingly accusatory finger at Israel, and not at those people who turned innocent civilians into human shields in the first place.

Would they fume so much at us if we were unethical, conscience-less terrorists? Probably not. The foreign media would be scared to open its mouth, or at best, would not expect anything from us, and therefore not criticize. Exactly like the poor residents of Gaza. Who should they blame? A restrained, humane, Israel, or ruthless terror organizations?

Obviously it doesn't matter what happens, Israel will never be as scary and as threatening as terrorists who have neither morals nor conscience. Therefore, the foreign media is correct in that sense. Its journalistic courage manifests itself as attacks on those who will not attack back. Between you and me, it’s a lot easier that way.

In short, it appears that as we are a democracy, we have two good options. The first is to adopt terrorism, and sooner rather than later, so that we can enjoy all the advantages that this developing concept brings when lined up against anachronistic rules of the game, that no longer hold true in the new global situation.

The second option, perhaps less advisable, but perhaps more realistic, is to try to emphasize once in a while this troubling fact that we are the only democracy in the Middle East, aiming to somehow survive.

Hey, who knows maybe sometime, in the distant future, even the foreign media will somehow give us some credit.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - - on January 13, 2009

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2009

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