Someone slap me awake.
An editor at the The Washington Post “PostGlobal” page emailed me yesterday, asking me to take part in a blog-versation on a question of the day:
“Does a leader have a right to bypass democratic institutions to ensure his people are fed and secure?”
asked panelist Daoud Kuttab, referring to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's recent statement that bread is more important than democracy, and the possibility of dissolving the Hamas-led PA government.
Long before, and certainly during the elections that brought Hamas to power, many Jerusalem Palestinians told me on numerous occasions that they were fed up with the stale corruption they felt characterized the entrenched, Fatah-led “old guard” Palestinian leadership. They wanted bread and a radical transformation. But I don't think that “democratic institutions,” at least as the term is understood in the West, were ever really a viable option for them.
Among those I spoke with were cab drivers, pedestrians in voxpop interviews, and – especially - one elderly Old City gift store merchant near the Jaffa Gate, soon after President Bush announced the roadmap peace plan.
Fingering prayer beads in a overflowing trinket shop on an alleyway empty of tourists fearing terror attacks, he spoke in despair of how the Arab leadership had pocketed their futures and disappointed them, in his words, for over 50 years – essentially, by not thwarting Israel's establishment.
When I asked him what he thought about Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, his sole answer was bitter: “Who is he?” he said with a dismissive shrug.
Read the rest here.
Well, an entity “bigger than Phil,” in this case, Skype, has a great sense of humor. At the same time I was preparing my comment, since I have a Skype widget on this page that says "I'm Online" (look for it), several guys in - wait for it - Algeria called, wanting to chat with an Israeli.
So, making sure my webcam was unplugged, I quickly slicked back my horns, and we chatted a bit, more excited over the connection than the content. Unfortunately, we soon broke off, owing to their poor English, and my even poorer Arabic.
Later on, a few very bored Israelis - let's be kind and call them "yutes" - with a webcam, microphone and a "sharmuta" (their term. Just guess what it means...) of an "a-ti-tude,” called just to say "f**k you..." now that's certainly food for thought on Israeli - Arab talking points. Takes all kinds, I s'pose...
Then again, my comments are in the WaPo, and their's aren't.