Warum gibt es keine pal. Demokratie? – Vorurteile in der NZZ

Victor Kocher hat auch heute einen Artikel in der NZZ: Ein Scherbenhaufen namens Palästina, untertitelt „Fortschreitender Zerfall demokratischer Institutionen“

Fuer Kocher ist der Fall natuerlich klar: Fuer jede Malaeise der Palaestinenser ist Israel verantwortlich.

Die zwingende Logik einer Zweistaatenlösung nach Massgabe der Grenzen von 1967, die der Rais Arafat darin zu erkennen glaubte, zerbrach an der völlig ungehinderten Siedlungsexpansion Israels sowie der Tatenlosigkeit der amerikanischen und europäischen Schutzherren des Prozesses und der ihm zugrunde liegenden Uno-Resolutionen.

Jemand mit weniger Vorurteilen koennte anfangen zu fragen, ob es denn ueberhaupt je pal. demokratische Institutionen gab, die den Namen verdienten und dann zerfallen konnten? Wenn man dieser Frage nachgeht, erweist sich Kochers „Analyse“ schnell als das duemmliche Mantra, das sie ist.

Schon die Wahlen 1996 waren nichts weiter als eine grandiose Schau fuer die Welt und fuer die pal. Bevoelkerung, waehrend in Wirklichkeit Arafat die Ergebnisse weitgehend im voraus bestimmte.


Much like American primaries, Fatah held internal elections to decide the people to represent the party on the ballot for each given seat. Arafat, however, didn’t like the results, so he cast them aside and created his own slate. Come Election Day, most of the „independents“ who actually won council seats were Fatah members kicked off the official slate by Arafat.

Several groups, including Peace Watch, noted that Arafat and his minions had, in the months leading up to the election, intimidated political activists, arrested some political opponents, and bribed others to exit races.


The lone person to oppose Arafat on the ballot was a 72-year-old social worker, Samiha Khalil. She shocked the international press with what the New York Times labeled a „surprisingly high“ number of votes. Her final, „surprisingly high“ tally? 9.3 percent of the vote.

Even if a credible politician had taken on Arafat, however, he would have been unlikely to clear all the hurdles in mounting a serious challenge. Arafat had a stranglehold on the media, one he proved willing to maintain with force when necessary.


Former CIA director Jim Woolsey dismisses claims that Arafat was democratically elected, quipping, „Arafat was essentially elected the same way Stalin was, but not nearly as democratically as Hitler, who at least had actual opponents.“


Und fuer all das sollen israelische Siedlungen verantwortlich sein?!

In seiner Studie vom 1. Mai 2002
The Broken Promise of the Democratic Peace: Israel and the Palestinian Authority zeichnet Joel S. Fishman plausibel, wie die PA einfach nach dem Schema anderer arabischer Staaten aufgebaut ist:


(…) It must be noted that the phenomenon of the government becoming nearly the sole source of support in a failed economy and the absence of a developed civil society is one of the traditional characteristics of the „sterile authoritarianism that characterizes much of the Arab world.“24 Mohamed Talbi, a Tunisian historian, describes the traditional relationships belonging to this culture:

Corruption and dictatorship go hand in hand. Not that corruption is always necessary, by the way. All it takes is to offer promotions and best paid positions, foreign diplomatic posts, cars, honors, awards, even taxi licenses, to the most deserving and unconditionally devoted — all the privileges that can be withheld or withdrawn from the rest for their lack of zeal and then redistributed. All the Arab authors of the Nasihat al-Muluk (Counsel for Kings)25 insisted on the perpetual need for the king to have something to give, to withdraw, or, if need be, to confiscate, in order to keep a tight reign on his world.26

Khaled Abu Toameh described how Chairman Arafat personally administered this traditional system of patronage:

Arafat holds all the reins of power. He takes even the smallest decisions independently, refusing to delegate and thereby empower a subordinate. For example, a Palestinian from east Jerusalem who seeks financial assistance to pay a debt to the Israeli municipality must apply to the rais in person. Arafat also makes most of the important appointments in the PA; he rotates officials frequently in order to reward followers, to keep appointees from becoming too powerful, or to demonstrate his own authority. In one case, he was even asked to „appoint“ a receptionist at one of the ministries.27

David Schenker offers an additional example of how the relationship described above, of extending and withholding of favors, helped undermine the effectiveness of the Palestinian Legislative Council. His description does not provide much evidence of checks and balances in action:

Arafat’s influence over the top echelons of the council has served to limit the PLC’s independence. Case in point is the speaker, Abu Ala [Ahmed Qari‘]. The primary role of the speaker is to stand up for the PLC in its relations with the executive, but Abu Ala’s main loyalties lie with Arafat, not with the legislature; he knows Arafat could dismiss him at any time. Furthermore, Abu Ala has hopes to succeed Arafat, which gives him an interest in seeing a powerful executive relative to the PLC.28

One of the most significant facts relating to the state of democracy in the PA is an event that did not happen: free and fair elections. Chairman Arafat’s term of office expired three years ago (on 4 May 1999), and he has not stood for reelection.29


Ich stimme uebrigens nicht ganz mit Fishman ueberein: Peres, Rabin und Beilin standen dem Konzept einer demokratischen PA ambivalent gegenueber. Rabins Aeusserung, er erwarte, dass Arafat Terror wirkungsvoll bekaempfen koenne, eben weil er sich weder um einen Obersten Gerichtshof noch um Menschenrechtsorganisationen scheren muesse, ist unvergessen.

Auch der Entwurf einer pal. Verfassung von 2002 lehnt sich an totalitaere, arabische Verfassungen an:

The reason for the thanks to the Arab regime leaders is that Arafat has ensured that the constitution meets their approval. The Saudi-owned A-Sharq Al Awsat daily said the constitution was sent to several Arab countries and the responses were disappointing. The Arab regimes complained of the powers of Arafat. But in response, Shaath and his committee said the Palestinian draft is similar to that of Egypt, France and Syria. This explains the need to seek approval from such an Arab regime as Syria, now regarded as the most despotic in the Middle East.

Die Palaestinensische Autonomiebehoerde wurde von Anfang an autokratisch strukturiert. Wenn irgendwann mal Knospen fuer pal. demokratischer Institutionen sprossen, dann im Verlauf der ersten Intifada. Die wurde aber gerade nicht von Arafat und seiner PLO gefuehrt.

Little wonder, then, that there were moments when it looked as if the whole painfully constructed PLO apparatus abroad, which considered itself the cutting edge of a national liberation movement, had turned, overnight, into a rearguard establishment comfortably ensconced far from the lines of confrontation. The spirit in the streets was not that of the PLO; sometimes it was blatantly anti-PLO. And although Arafat succeeded in preserving the PLO’s status as the emblem of Palestinian aspirations both to the outside world and to the insurgents themselves, he had an uphill battle to re-establish his authority over his constituency.


(…) Now Israel finds that since it will inevitably have to talk to someone, it is better off dealing with the moderate „natives“ than contending with the radical and often mercurial leadership in the „diaspora.“

Yet even if Israelis will talk to the local leaders, it remains to be seen whether these leaders are prepared to negotiate in earnest, rather than serve merely as mouthpieces for Arafat. The emergence in the territories of figures such as Hanna Siniora and Fayez Abu Rahmeh, who were received by Secretary of State George Shultz in Washington in February, has made the PLO in exile fearful that it will be left out of the political process altogether, with the local leadership being considered more authentic and representative. This is undoubtedly why it forbade Siniora and others to meet with Shultz again, in Jerusalem, just a few weeks later.

(…) Considering the brute threats made against them, the local leaders would have had to be very brave men indeed to defy the leadership abroad.


Arafat und seine PLO waren nicht nur keineswegs beteiligt, basisdemokratische Ansaetze zu schaffen. Im Gegenteil setzten sie alles daran, um sie zu behindern, und als sich nach der Rueckkehr aus dem Exil 1994 die Moeglichkeit dazu bot, sie zu zerschlagen.

Leider ist es typisch fuer alt-Linke wie Victor Kocher, dass sie nie imstande waren, die autokratischen Strukturen und internen Machtkaempfe bei den Palaestinensern zu erkennen. Fuer antiimperialistische Romantiker dieses Schlags gibt es nur einfache Antworten: Israel ist schuld oder auch die USA oder auch beide zusammen. Und das war’s!

crossposted bei Freunden der Offenen Gesellschaft

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