My latest Huffington Post piece examines democracy in the modern world:
Democracy is dead, long live democracy. Modi has won by a landslide in India. Touted everywhere as the world’s largest “democracy,” India will be ruled by a man who has never repudiated or apologized for the slaughter of Muslims in his state’s riots while he was in charge, a man who is the force behind the most ultranationalist and bigoted Indian political party in modern history. Right here in the USA, Princeton University demonstrates that most every policy and every piece of ‘democratic’ legislation is supporting the rise of an oligarchy and the disappearance of the middle class. From Russia to India to Israel, we have a problem with elected ultra-right leaders who basically embody what John Stuart Mill, one of the greatest modern architects of democracy, referred to as ‘the tyranny of the majority.’
In every case majority …
Reflecting on 2010, it’s clear that racism in Israel has reared its ugly head. A recent poll published by the Israel Democracy Institute found that only 51 percent of Israelis support equal rights between Jews and Arabs, while 53 percent think the state should encourage Arabs to emigrate from the country. Thepoll also established that Jewish Israelis find the idea of living next to an Arab more troubling than any other minority, and that in the event of war, 33 percent of Israelis support the idea of putting Arabs into internment camps.
In the last few months, these findings were given concrete expression in a number of incidents. These include:
A religious ruling signed and endorsed by 50 state-appointed rabbis forbidding Jews from renting or selling apartments to non-Jews. “Racism originated in the Torah,” said Rabbi Yosef Scheinen, head of the Yeshiva in Ashdod and one of the endorsers …
President Obama has signaled in recent days that he will be confronting China much more on its global policies. But China is on the rise as the premier economic global power, even as America is on the decline, and it remains to be seen what kind of confrontation could be effective. Will China’s rise actually be good news for the world? This will depend on how China rises, and it will be wise to challenge China on its humanitarian impact every bit as much as on its economic impact globally. Let’s look at one example.
Burma has one of the worst governments in the world, a place where citizens live in terror. The military junta seized power when Aung San Suu Kyi’s party won 392 of the 492 seats in Parliament. It does not fully control the Hill Country on the west and east sides of the country, inhabited by …
Recent sputterings of a peace process between Israel and Palestine, the termination of Israel’s settlement building freeze causing a demise of said peace process — again — has produced a loud, global yawn. What else is new in this endless conflict? Negotiations cannot succeed without a vision, and there is no widely shared vision of peace among these people that could truly spur their politicians forward.
The hardest part of building peace for the future is freeing oneself from the wounds of the past that create brutal behavior in the present. One way forward may be to suspend skepticism for just a moment, to free the mind to build a world of practical possibilities should peace be achieved. Armed with this imaginative exercise it might become easier to lobby for practical ways forward.
Let’s imagine the following: official creation of a state of Palestine on the West Bank and Gaza
The hardest part of building peace for the future is freeing oneself from the wounds of war, the mutual recriminations of the present, the painful memories of a lost past, and the unreasonable fantasies of a world where one’s enemies magically disappear. Sometimes the way forward is to free the mind to build a different world, a world of practical possibilities should peace be achieved.
Let’s imagine the following: a full peace treaty between Israel and Palestine, official creation of a state of Palestine on the West Bank and Gaza, with East Jerusalem as its capital, a shared civil regime for the quarter mile of the Holy Basin in the Old City of Jerusalem that is overseen by Israeli and Palestinian Jews, Muslims and Christians, and a way for every Palestinian refugee camp’s residents to be awarded citizenship and compensation in a variety of countries including Palestine itself.
The first …