“How many Arab leaders would be left if they went on trial of similar cases of bribery and corruption?” — Zuhear al-Karim, Arabic CNN.
“If Olmert were in Kuwait, his case would have been shelved and he would have received a senior position in government.” — Yasalam, Al-Aan.
“Law is above all and this is real democracy. Israel is the only real democracy in the Middle East.” — Saad Sayad, Arabic CNN.
The Tel Aviv District Court’s decision to send former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to six years in prison for corruption has prompted calls in the Arab world for endorsing Israel’s standards of accountability, transparency and justice.
Reacting to the sentencing of Olmert, many Arabs expressed hope that the day would come when their countries would learn from Israel that no one is above the law, even if he or she is a president or prime minister.
Sufian Abu Zayda, a leading Fatah official and former Palestinian Authority minister, praised the court verdict; he said it shows that in Israel, no one is above the law.
“This verdict provides further evidence that the judicial system in Israel is fully independent in the wake of the separation between the legislative, executive and judicial authorities, as well as total freedom of the media,” said Abu Zayda, who is considered an expert on Israeli affairs.
The praise for Israel’s democratic system does not mean that Abu Zayda and other Arabs have become pro-Israel and are willing to recognize Israel’s right to exist.
But while they continue to hate Israel and seek its destruction, many Arabs do not hesitate to express their admiration for the independence of Israel’s judicial system.
Comments posted by Arabs and Muslims on the Internet this week revealed how eager they are for their countries to endorse Israeli democracy. Similar reactions were also published when an Israeli court sentenced former Israeli President Moshe Katzav to seven years in prison for sex-related offenses.
Following are some of the comments posted on Arab media and social websites in response to the Olmert verdict:
- Ali Al-Kadi: “We salute Judge David Rosen [who sentenced Olmert to prison]. We wish the Arabs had 22 judges like David Rosen!” [Al-Quds Al-Arabi]
- Mohammed Akash: “O Muslims, look at the fairness of this judge and where you are. You must learn from our enemy, Israel. Long live the fair Israeli judicial system.”[Al-Quds Al-Arabi]
- Manji Dalali: “This is one of the secrets behind Israel’s victory over the Arabs. We must learn from our Jewish Zionist enemy the principles of fair justice. “[Al-Quds Al-Arabi]
- Ibrahim – Libya: “We Muslims are in great need of a decent judicial system to punish our thieves and corrupt leaders. May God help us.” [Al-Quds Al-Arabi]
- Hassan Jamal: “I wish Arab countries do the same for their corrupt leaders. I wish the Arab people will do the same for their countries and get rid of corrupt officials, including presidents and kings.” [Al-Quds]
- Mohammed: “Of course Islam is the best religion. But the regimes that claim to endorse Islam are practicing repression and corruption. Meanwhile, Israel is among the democratic countries and is better than all the Arab and Islamic countries when it comes to respecting its people and combating theft of resources.” [Al-Wasat News]
- Adel: “This is the secret to Israel’s success; it has become a symbol of justice because it has made justice one of its major bases of power. We, on the other hand, are doing the opposite. We continue to cover up cases of corruption and do not do anything about them.” [Echorouk Online]
- Abu Zeid: “I live in Israel and am familiar with its laws. In this state, no one is above the law.” [Al-Arabiya]
- Sami Dirani: “Israel is the enemy of the Arabs…but it practices democracy – something the Arabs do not know. That is why Israel is stronger and more advanced than the Arabs, who are busy slaughtering each other. Some [Arabs] are dying of starvation, while others are swimming in pools of dollars.” [Al-Hayat]
- Hani: “The hadith [prophet’s sayings] states that we should seek education, even if it is in China. And I say to Muslims, ‘Learn justice even if it’s from Israel.’ I wish the day would come when our leaders would be brought to trial and have our money taken back from them.” [Assawsana]
- Yasalam: “If Olmert were in Kuwait, his case would have been shelved and he would have received a senior position in government.” [Al-Aan]
- Rahhal: “The Zionists have more justice than our thugs and so-called Muslims.” [Al-Aan]
- Kabir al-Muhandiseen: “This is how states are built. This is the secret to Israel’s strength and steadfastness.” [Al-Aan]
- Muhasabah: “In Israel, they hold their officials accountable and send them to prison, while we Arabs glorify the corrupt.” [Al-Aan]
- Zuhear al-Karim: “How many Arab leaders would be left if they went on trial for similar cases of bribery and corruption?” [Arabic CNN]
- Abdo Shehatah: “The Jews continue to prove, every day, that they have real democracy in this world.” [Arabic CNN]
- Saad Sayad: “Law is above all and this is democracy. Israel is the only real democracy in the Middle East.” [Arabic CNN]
Reprinted with author’s permission from the Gatestone Institute