democracy

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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 …

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Syria’s Christian Conundrum

by mgopin on June 8, 2012 · 6 comments

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by Hind Kabawat, CRDC Senior Research Analyst and Expert on Conflict Resolution

This article was originally published by CNN here.

One of the most perplexing aspects of the Syrian revolution is the deep ambivalence felt by so many of the country’s Christians when faced with the prospect of freedom after four decades of authoritarian dictatorship. Some Christians have enthusiastically embraced the prospect of democratic change and a more open civil society, but many have not.

As a Christian, this provokes a great deal of sadness in me and others who are committed to transforming Syria into an open, democratic, inclusive, secular and religiously tolerant society. But the problem is that many, if not most, Christians in Syria do not believe that this will be the outcome of changing the regime.

On the contrary, they believe the present regime — corrupt and repressive as it has been — is the …

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Dont trust the world

by mgopin on February 14, 2012 · 5 comments

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Dont trust the world – Israel Opinion, Ynetnews.

What will you do if we assume risks and sacrifice victims and put our trust in you – and then something goes wrong?

“What if the other side does not act as it is expected to, and instead hurls at us fire and plagues and poisons and possibly even nuclear weapons?

“What will you do then? Will you ask for forgiveness? Will you say ‘we were wrong’? Will you send us bandages? Will you open orphanages for the children who survived? Will you pray for our souls?”

Powerful persuasive words from Israel’s most recent rising politician. Imagine a family in Gaza who lost their children and entire neighborhood in 2008 giving the exact same speech, using exactly these words. Why should they not use these words?

Ok, now what? After all the emotions, if you want something more in life …

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The Project for Islamic Cooperation for a Peaceful Future in Afghanistan, November 30, 2011 - December 2, 2011

George Mason University Press Release

November 29, 2011

Media Contacts: In U.S., James Greif, +1 703 993 9118, jgreif@gmu.edu. In Turkey, Aziz Abu Sarah +1 571-236-0380, azizabusarah@gmail.com .

Istanbul, Turkey –From every province of Afghanistan, Imams and civil society leaders will meet together today with Islamic scholars for the first time during the Islamic Cooperation for a Peaceful Future in Afghanistan conference, an unprecedented gathering that will open on November 30 in Istanbul, Turkey. More than 80 Afghan scholars will meet with over 20 of the world’s most prestigious Muftis and Islamic scholars, with millions of followers across the world, from Pakistan to Indonesia.

The conference participants consider this gathering, discussion and commitment for peace and non-violence as the establishment of a historically significant point of reference for Islamic teachings of moderation, tolerance, peace and cooperation.

The conference is an academic forum created by the Center for World Religions, …

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The Strategic Value of Forgiveness

by mgopin on November 16, 2011 · 10 comments

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A version of this essay appeared recently in the Jerusalem Report on November 21, 2011.

The Arab Awakening is facing serious challenges, and some new strategic decisions are required that will end up being good for all the revolutionary movements afoot this year, in the Middle East, in Israel and beyond.

The essential point is this: The Arab Street has demonstrated incredible heroism and nonviolent principles in the face of torture and death, and even Libya began as a very peaceful revolution, even if Libyans felt at some point that they had no choice but to fight. This is a paradigm shift of ethical and political values that will be remembered for generations. It may also signify a broad-based Middle Eastern democratic shift.

The going is tough, however, because no revolution easily dislodges corrupt structures of power. The temptation is just too great for those immediately below the revolution’s chosen …

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By Dr. Marc Gopin and Aziz Abu Sarah

In his speech to the Central Council of the PLO in Ramallah, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced his strategy to end the occupation. The President stressed in his speech that he will not retreat from seeking recognition of the Palestinian state from the United Nations. Abbas had been under enormous pressure to withdraw the request for recognition of a Palestinian State on borders of June 1967. He announced that 122 nations are already in favor of the draft submitted to the UN. Concerning US opposition, he referred to the fact that this has not been communicated in a formal manner.

President Abbas surprised many of his listeners when he spoke about another element of his strategy. Perhaps for the first time Abbas highlighted clearly his vision of the Palestinian people’s active participation to achieve the dream of a Palestinian state. He called …

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“…he was surprised by the housing protests across the country, ‘because the economy is doing well.” Time for a Jewish period of rebellion against the macroeconomics of super-wealth. Marie Antoinetzky meets real Jewish people–and their Arab neighbors. This is healthy for Israel and for peace. I love it when GDP and other measures fall right on their face in broad daylight. Harder to refute their nonsense about who is doing well and who is not, when the society is adding millionaires and billionaires like crazy and average people are going homeless. It is ironic, even astonishing, that just as the “Labor” Party in Israel has died under the able leadership of the ever altruistic Ehud Barak, that Tahrir Square, sorry Rabin Square, becomes too small to contain the nonviolent rage of the people. No big surprise:

At present, the richest people in Israel pay the least

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From the explosion of Osama Bin Laden into our consciousness on that terrible day in 2001, all the way to his death, feels like a frame of existence, a distinct period of our history and fate as an American community. There have been many deadly wars since then that America has participated in or supported. As an American Jew and a veteran peacebuilder in the Middle East, I also feel like this decade has been a whirlwind of violence, from Iraq to Lebanon to Gaza, and now to Arab countries in which I had worked, especially Syria where I put my heart and soul.

Every war, every massive act of violence, always makes me reflect anew on the origins and nature of human violence, and on its opposites, empathy, compassion, and love. We humans have made so many efforts through the millennia to create one political arrangement after another in …

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By Hind Aboud Kabawat (Senior Research Analyst and Expert in Conflict Resolution, CRDC, George Mason University).

Damascus, Syria

May 20, 2011

Can our beloved Syria be saved from the brink of destruction? This is clearly the question on the minds of millions of our fellow countrymen (and countrywomen). And it is truly astonishing how quickly events have transformed the so-called “facts on the ground” in this country. One of the most locked-down societies in the Middle East quite suddenly erupted in rage, anger and frustration after forty years of political repression and economic stagnation. Just think of it: the first demonstration was on March 15, just a mere two months ago. But so much has changed in the minds, hearts and aspirations of the Syrian people that it is impossible to think that we can ever return to the status quo ante—the Syria of March 14th.

What the …

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Peaceful, Peaceful

 

“Peaceful, Peaceful”

These two words, the clarion call of millions of Arabs yearning to be free, are the two most important words in recent political history. There is a new form of pan-Arabism. It is a contagion, it is nonviolent, it is neither religious nor anti-religious, it is not mean-spirited but inviting to authorities and adversaries. It is the kind of chant and gesture that directly welcomes police and officials to join. In short, we have seen the spirit of Gandhi and King, and especially Ghaffer Khan, come alive in the Middle East.

If the contagion continues I am hoping that it becomes the pre-eminent form of social change and protest that sweeps aside paranoia and passivity. All the way from the streets of Pakistan to the airwaves of America, from Zawahiri and the Salafists to Rush Limbaugh and the Tea Party, it is time for the …

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