Arab unrest: The shoe thrower’s index and Israel

The Economist magazine has made great efforts to predict which Arab country might be the next to fall after Egypt. Syria? An emirate?

More intriguing is the “Shoe Thrower’s index, which aims to predict where the scent of jasmine may spread next.” Simply using factors such as youth ratios, unemployment and corruption, the Economist has attempted to which autocracy could go next, assuming that the bug spreads.

It is interesting how Egypt, Libya and Yemen figured at the top. There again, Tunisia is placed in the middle, close to Jordan, another potential time bomb, and Bahrain below that. So, the index makes for a cute exercise, but it is not complete.

Marxists and co are having a field day. Do the violent street protests signify a return of proletarian revolutions, with the proverbial spark spreading virally via facebook? A man burns himself in a backwater town in Tunisia and within a month, billions of petrodollars become meaningless, as leaders in Iran, Bahrain and Algeria hurry to learn the art of damage limitation. 

So where are the protests from the Palestinians? Without claiming that Israel is the perfect country – who is? – it is all very quiet inside the Ramallah/Gaza axis. True, Abu Mazen’s cabinet reshuffle is seen as a defensive response rather than a move from strength. And the Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights issued a statement on 6th February:

concerned by the restrictions on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly by Palestinian security agencies, which have banned peaceful protests by Palestinian citizens in solidarity with the people of Tunisia and Egypt.  On 2/2/2011, the Palestinian police banned a peaceful protest which was organized in the city of Ramallah and arrested a number of journalists and participants for a short period of time.

In Gaza, it is possible that the situation is still too raw for change. “The new wealthy class — many associated with Hamas — as well as established capital owners are concerned about keeping their money inside Gaza, preferring to move it abroad….even to Israel”

As for the Jewish State, the Netanyahu government has backed down on some price rises. There may be a general strike in two weeks. But there are no mass demos, coloured by riot police. Why?

Dr Robert Brookes is leading blogger in the field of psychology. With amazing irony, his latest monthly posting is titled “we all want out voices to be heard“. He concludes that: –

Self-determination and autonomy are basic needs that exist throughout our lives, …… Intrinsic motivation and democratic ideals flourish when environments encourage and support one’s voice being heard. In all of our institutions, whether in schools or in various organizations or businesses, those in leadership positions must ask if all members truly believe their opinion is respected and that they are afforded a certain level of choice and autonomy. This kind of respect does not imply a loss of authority on the part of leadership, but rather the cultivation of a climate in which leadership will be honored for validating the input and voices of others.

For all its faults, and despite of a very real existential threat for all of its modern history, Israel has a free press, freedom of worship and a secret vote for all. The country is at the heart of the industrial revolution in telecommunications, with over 50 companies at this week’s World Mobile Congress in Barcelona. Open source tech and apps are everywhere, near impossible to block. 

I know that many, possibly even most, of these demonstrators in the Arab World do not like Israel. But for all their hatred, are they telling their leaders that they are actually envious of the way the Holy Land is ruled? Israel is a democracy.

And maybe there is another message here for world leaders. They have often thrown shoes at Israel, claiming that Jerusalem’s intransigence on the Palestinian issue is the core of instability in the Middle East. The Economist’s index is telling you that it is time for a review of your mindset.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Business, Israel, Palestinians

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