Someone else thinks like I do. Here is an article arguing that Israel could serve as a democratic example for the now emerging (we hope and pray!) democracies in the Arab world. Even Tom Friedman noted in his most recent New York Times column:
The Arab TV network Al Jazeera has a big team covering Israel today. Here are some of the stories they have been beaming into the Arab world: Israel’s previous prime minister, Ehud Olmert, had to resign because he was accused of illicitly taking envelopes stuffed with money from a Jewish-American backer. An Israeli court recently convicted Israel’s former president Moshe Katsav on two counts of rape, based on accusations by former employees. And just a few weeks ago, Israel, at the last second, rescinded the appointment of Maj. Gen. Yoav Galant as the army’s new chief of staff after Israeli environmentalists spurred a government investigation that concluded General Galant had seized public land near his home. (You can see his house on Google Maps!) This surely got a few laughs in Egypt where land sales to fat cats and cronies of the regime that have resulted in huge overnight profits have been the talk of Cairo this past year. When you live right next to a country that is bringing to justice its top leaders for corruption and you live in a country where many of the top leaders are corrupt, well, you notice.If you love Israel you of course wish there were different stories, but nonetheless it is the warts that sometimes make you most appreciate your blessings. The essence of democracy is often realized in critique. When we succeed in holding even the most powerful to the same standard of justice and law as every other person we offer the best evidence of a vibrant democracy. This is why I was proud to be an American when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Westboro Baptist Church. I of course find the content of their speech abhorrent. How could anyone celebrate the death of another, especially someone who was killed when defending this country? How could anyone willfully inflict such pain on a grieving parent? Nonetheless they are entitled to peacefully express their opinions (even their most stupid opinions). I wish they kept silent especially in the face of such unimaginable grief, but this is what democracy is about. And if you want to really see free speech in action then go take a taxi in Israel. Join the debate at an Israeli grocery store. To be unafraid of criticism and critique, argument and debate, are what we must share with the world. Never fear those who disagree with you! Never try to silence those who express views different from your own! You can see these ideas in action in Israel--and here in this great land. Take heart protesters! Take note dictators!