Monday, September 19, 2011

On America's Imperfect Democracy

Rami Khouri, in The Daily Star, reporting on his attending a Philadelphia city council meeting where the council members - acting well outside the mandate of a city council, and certainly well outside their competence - voted to support the US House of Representatives resolution opposing Palestinian efforts to gain UN recognition as a state:

My conclusion at the end of the day was that the struggle for justice, fairness and equal rights in Israel and Palestine will not be won or even seriously nudged forward in the United States, where the structural biases for Zionist zealotry are too deeply entrenched.

This has also been a useful refresher course for me – 40 years after living and attending university in the United States – on why American democracy is not a useful model for the Arab world. I understand better now why Palestinians are taking their battle for statehood to the U.N. and defying the U.S. and its threats and blackmail; and why so many newly democratizing Arab societies are asking Americans offering money, advice and assistance on democratic state-building to stay home for now.

It’s amazing how much you can learn in America about democracy’s strengths and weaknesses in a day, traveling between the wellsprings of America’s imperfect democracy in Boston and Philadelphia.



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