Ynet OpEd, Dec. 27, 2004
by Yoram Ettinger
The Palestinian elections, which will be held in January 2005 cannot be free. Free election on one hand, and the nature of the Palestinian Authority on the other hand, constitute an oxymoron.
Elections do not become free through rhetoric, even when the rhetoric is uttered by leaders of respectable nations and by media and academia stars. Elections do not constitute a magic wand, which transforms totalitarian regimes into democracies. On the other hand, it is a free society, which is a critical prerequisite for Free Elections; a Free Society, which is based on the rights of the individual, rather than the rights of the ruler.
Free elections are the by-product of a society, where citizens accord certain rights to their government. Free elections cannot be a by product of societies, where regimes accords certain rights to their subjects, eliminate their opponents and brainwash their population with hate-education. Elections held by a non-free society are inherently non-free, even if prestigious evening news anchormen and press conferences in Jerusalem, London, the UN and Washington, DC refer to them as "free elections". My late friend from Athens Texas would have said that "It doesn't matter how much lipstick and make-up you apply to a Doberman, it will always be a Doberman and never a Poodle."
The January 2004 elections will deal a severe blow to the hopes of Palestinians to be liberated from the oppressive regime, which was imposed on them by "The Tunisians": Arafat, Abu Mazen, Abu Ala', Dahlan, Rajoub and other members of the PLO, who have been considered - by fellow Arabs - as the role model of treachery, corruption, intolerance and terrorism. These elections will accord further Western legitimacy to the political, ideological and financial infrastructure of Palestinian terrorism, and will therefore deal a setback to the pursuit of peace. The coming Palestinian elections will raise further doubts about the capabilities of post-1992 Israeli leaders to benefit from the lessons of the 1996 Palestinian elections, from the unprecedented terrorism of the last 11 years (since the signing of the Oslo Accord) and from the Regime-Change and subsequent elections initiatedby the US in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The January 1996 Palestinian elections were supervised by international and Israeli observers. They were certified as "free and democratic" by global personalities, such as former Presidents Clinton and Carter, by then Israeli Prime Minister Peres, by the UN, by all European leaders, by the NY Times, CNN, the three major US Networks, etc. They applied much lipstick and make-up, in order to Kosherize the elections, which upgraded the legitimacy of Arafat, Abu Mazen, Abu Ala' and other graduates of terrorist camps in Iraq, Yemen, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Lebanon and Tunisia. However, when the lipstick and make-up disappeared, it became obvious that notwithstanding the "free" election, the Palestinian Authority persisted in hate-education, terrorism, gross violation of human rights, corruption, systematic and violent violation of commitments made to Israel and to the US and repression of the Christian minority.
A cardinal prerequisite to Free Election, to moderate regimes and to durable and peaceful coexistence is the uprooting of the regime, which has been responsible for the deterioration of the Palestinian society. Abu Mazen and Abu Ala' have not been in exile or in the underground during the last eleven years, since the signing of the Oslo Accord. Sometimes they opposed Arafat's tactics, but they always supported Arafat's strategy. Therefore, they were among Arafat's closest confidants and senior deputies since the 1950s, when they were leaders of the Palestinian cell of the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo (which became the ideological mentor of Hamas terrorists). Along with Dahlan and Rajoub, they devised a series of understandings with Hamas, starting with the 1993 edition, which committed the PA and Hamas to a joint strategy (Israel's elimination), while assigning different tactical roles to each organization. Together the four PLO/PA leaders masterminded the system of hate education in PA-controlled schools, mosques and media. The four have earned the nickname - coined by fellow Palestinians - "Mr. 20%", for the notorious kickbacks extracted from businessmen, who deal with the PA.
The US did not initiate elections in Afghanistan and Iraq, before the comprehensive dismantling of the Taliban and the Ba'th regimes. The Allies did not hold elections in Japan and Germany prior to the tearing down of the Tojo and the Nazi regimes.
The Palestinian Authority is not a platform for Free Election. The Palestinian Authority is the key obstacle for Free Election. Legitimizing the January 2004 election - in defiance of the clear track record of the PA - has constituted another victory to wishful thinking over realism. It would, once again, reward Palestinian terrorism and adrenalize Islamic and international terrorism. It would cause, therefore, a setback to moderate Palestinian elements and to the pursuit of peace.