By BARRY SHAW
JERUSALEM – Today, July 13,2001, I attended a landmark initiative from Israel’s Knesset.
The Knesset Forum on International Relations launched a hearing on Middle East Democracy. In a session that achieved a broad coalition of cross party support a statement was issued from the seat of Israel’s parliament which read:
Whereas demonstrations, riots, and revolutions have rocked the Middle East from Morocco to Iran and political stability, violence, and call for change of government have touched over a dozen countries in this region, all people have the right to live free from dictatorship and live in safety and security.
At a time when people throughout the Middle East seek to create systems of liberty free of corruption, extremist forces seek to turn popular hope into personal power. These forces of violence do not respect the basic rights of freedom and liberty and danger the yearning for freedom across the region and the world.
Therefore, it is resolved that the Knesset Forum on International Relations;
1. Supports the desire of the people in the Middle East to live freely and enjoy democratic freedom, and
2. Recognizes the necessity for Israel’s security needs at a time of great instability in the region, and
3. Appeals to the global community to support Israel as a beacon of democracy and human right, and
4. Condemns extremists forces that promote violence and bloodshed, and
5. Calls on the international community to isolate radical elements that oppose freedom, and
6. Conveys hope for the rest of the Middle East to enjoy the benefits of democratic rights.
For better or worse, Israel is an integral part of the Middle East and, with it’s record of freedoms and example of a liberal democracy, it has lots to offer to regional nations groping in the dark for the door of true democracy.
We were assured that this was only the initial meeting of this new initiative, and that Israel intends to turn these fine words into finer deeds for the benefit of the region.