Arabs: Israelis Hold Leaders Accountable

Ad Feedback - JERUSALEM, Israel - Israel has gained new respect in the eyes of Arabs in its handling of the corruption case against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

"Words of praise for Israel are a rare phenomenon in the Arab media," writes Jerusalem Post Palestinian Affairs correspondent Khaled Abu Toameh, noting that the trend appears to have changed "judging from the reaction of many Arabs to the corruption case in the past week."

Toameh said that Arabs, who have no qualms about being "sworn enemies of the Zionist entity," are singing Israel's praises.

The widespread coverage of Olmert's corruption case in the mainstream Arab media has prompted an unprecedented response from across the Middle East.

"Show me one Arab or Islamic country where a prime minister or a senior government official was ever questioned for financial corruption or bribery," one reader wrote.

Abdel Karim, a Saudi national, said Arabs should stop condemning Israel and learn from its democracy.

"Before we curse Israel, we must learn from the democratic and judicial system in Israel where no one is above the law," he wrote.

"Although we are talking about Israel, which I have always hated very much, there is still no one above the law there," another Saudi national wrote.

"We want this accountability and transparency in the Arab and Islamic world," wrote Mahmoud al-Bakili from Yemen.

An Arab describing himself as a "Syrian voice," said, "Despite my strong hatred for the Zionist regime, I have a lot of admiration and respect for this entity because there is no one above the law. In the Arab world, laws are broken every day and no one seems to care," he wrote.

Abdel Aziz Mahmoud, an Egyptian journalist, said he can't imagine an Arab leader being tried for sexual harassment or financial corruption.

"I don't think we will live to see the day when the police interrogate an Arab leader for sexually harassing his secretary or receiving bribes," Mahmoud wrote. "Nor will our children and grandchildren live to see that day. What happened in Israel can never happen in any Arab country."

Abi Hadi, an Iraqi correspondent, said Arab citizens should speak up.

"There is corruption in Israel and the Arab world," he wrote from Iraq. "But the difference is that the Israelis hold their leaders accountable, while we, the Arabs, remain silent about corruption."

There was also a lot of humor concerning the amount of money in the Olmert corruption case.

"[He's charged for] only a few thousand dollars? What a fool. This is what an Egyptian minister gets in a day or what a Saudi CEO gets in 45 minutes or a Kuwaiti government official in five minutes. This is what the physician of the emir of Qatar gets every 30 seconds," wrote Ahmed from Jordan.

Arab commentator Jasser Abdel Hamid advised Olmert to move to an Arab country.

"Why don't you seek Arab citizenship?" he asked, tongue in cheek. "There you can take as much money as you want. Even if they discover the theft, they will erect a statue for you in a public square," he wrote.

"Can you imagine if there was an investigation against an Arab or Muslim leader?" Mohammed from Lebanon asked. "Do you know how much money they would discover?"

"Unfortunately, this is the real democracy," writes Abu Yusef from Egypt. "Our enemies are very good in practicing democracy. In the Arab world, our leaders steal everything and no one ever dares to ask a question," he said.

"Despite all our problems with the Jews, they are much better than us in fighting corruption and revealing the truth," wrote Rashid from Saudi Arabia.

And bringing it closer to home, Hani in the Palestinian Authority city of Ramallah said, "This is democracy at its best. enough of dictatorship in the Arab world. Let's learn from the Israeli example. Let's benefit from Israel's democracy," she wrote.

And from Kuwait, Rashid Bohairi said, "I swear Israel is a state that will succeed. They are prosecuting their prime minister because of tens of thousands of dollars. What about the millions of dollars that Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority stole? How come the Palestinian people are still hungry?" he asked.

One Arab from Saudi Arabia, describing himself as an "Israel lover," said "Israel is a state that deserves to exist. It deserves our profound respect. I wish I were a citizen of that state."

Source: The Jerusalem Post

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