Freedom House ranks Israel as region’s only ‘free’ state

By HERB KEINON01/21/2013 04:07

US-based watchdog's report says that while in recent years controversies have surrounded proposed laws that threatened freedom of expression, in most cases they gave been quashed by gov't, Knesset or Supreme Court. Jerusalem Photo: Wikicommons Israel is the Middle East’s only “free” state, the US-based Freedom House wrote in its annual report last week, a ranking in stark contrast to claims by the country’s critics – both domestic and international – who argue that the Jewish state’s democratic values are steadily eroding “Israel remains the region’s only free country,” read the report, called Freedom in the World 2013, released just days before Israel goes to the polls. “In recent years, controversies have surrounded proposed laws that threatened freedom of expression and the rights of civil society organizations,” the report read. Related: Freedom House: 'Arab Spring' countries at risk Ahmadinejad slams West's democracy as 'capitalist' “In most cases, however, these measures have either been quashed by the government or parliament, or struck down by the Supreme Court. Israeli politics have also been roiled by an escalating controversy over the role of ultra-Orthodox Jews and their positions on issues such as military service and gender equality.” Israel’s ranking is completely dissimilar to that given the West Bank and Gaza – one under Palestinian Authority control and the other under Hamas rule – which are both classified as “not free.” Likewise, the report found, Israel is surrounded by countries where freedom is not exactly the watchword. The report, which ranks the world’s countries by political rights and civil liberties, characterized Jordan and Syria as “not free,” and Egypt and Lebanon as “partly free.” Of the “worst of the worst” countries, the nine countries given the absolute worst ratings in the world, two were in the region: Saudi Arabia and Syria. Sudan was also rated in the bottom nine. Algeria, Bahrain, Iraq, Iran, Oman, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen all also received the “not free” ranking, and Tunisia, Kuwait, Libya and Morocco were defined as “partly free.” Interestingly, while Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan consistently slams Israel for alleged human rights violations, his country earned only a “partly free” ranking from Freedom House. According to the report, during his early years in power Erdogan pushed through important reforms that enshrined civilian rule, enhanced fairness at the polls, and made halting steps toward greater minority rights. “More recently, however, his government has jailed hundreds of journalists, academics, opposition party officials, and military officers in a series of prosecutions aimed at alleged conspiracies against the state and Kurdish organizations,” the report read. “Turkey currently leads the world in the number of journalists behind bars, and democracy advocates are expressing deep concern for the state of press freedom and the rule of law,” the report read. According to the report, “the past year has provided more evidence that Middle Eastern countries long subject to the dictator’s heel are quickly developing resilient and informed civil societies willing to push back against attempts to curb freedom of expression and thought, distort the electoral process, or concentrate power in the hands of military or religious authorities. “In this context, factions or governments that seek to reduce freedom could find it increasingly difficult to do so.” At the same time, “while the Middle East experienced some of the most significant improvements, it also registered major declines, with a list of worsening countries that includes Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Syria, and the United Arab Emirates.” In the Freedom House ratings, a “free” country is one where there is open political competition, a climate of respect for civil liberties, significant independent civic life, and independent media. A “partly free” country is one in which there is limited respect for political rights and civil liberties, and a “not free” country is one where basic political rights are absent and civil liberties widely and systematically denied.

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The citizens of Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria, are all doing their best to collectively push for democratic institutions within their respective countries.

Israelis squabble, squabble and squabble.  Israel, as a country, is much more fragmented than the other countries in the region, and has political and social issues that are more complicated and more intractable than those of the other countries.

Israelis are still refusing to notice the elephant in the centre of their lounge room. No other country in the region is in that kind of denial.

Squabbles and fragmentation is what democracy is all about, many people, all their ideas being heard... One voice might sound nice but this is usually the voice of a dictator.. That is the beauty of the Jewish State.

The big challenge for any nation-state is how well they can get along with their neighbors.  When Nicolas Sarkozy was President of France, he mentioned how Germany and France put aside their past differences to become two of the biggest economies in Europe, and most important of all, military allies.  Since Germany and France fought three wars, which took millions of lives, and the two nations never trusted each other.  The third time Germany and France went to war, there were no civil liberties in Germany, and France could not keep a government for more than 48 hours.

This is an interesting conversation, since one of the issues faced by Israel is whether it will remain a Jewish state ( my understanding is that this implies that Jewish law is applied in some , but not all parts of government) AND a democratic country ( there are many definitions, but most often we think of all citizens of age and reason voting in free and fair elections to let. Government f tne peple ) .

I looked on tne Internet in a couple of places and came across tne following :

These non biased agencies study nations based on several standards . It is interesting to note the results.

Also I would posit the following:

1. Democracy is not easy and it can be messy. But , as I watched the inauguration of USA President Obama today, I was proud of the democracy in a nation that elects it's leaders in overwhelmingly free and fair elections , where tne winner does not receive 90 plus percent and the loser goes into hiding for fear of his / her life.

2. Democracies by nature address all social and political issues in a free manner and open discussion. I suppose that is why we see such progress for personal rights and protection of liberties in these countries .

3. Not all democracies are perfect. The USA had government accepted slavery, England had a House of Lords tnat grantd power based on heritage and not merit, and Switzerland did not grant female suffrage until after 1970. But all democracies over time address issues for their citizens in a reasonable manner.

4. Take a look in any country that does not score high in any of these surveys and ask yourself, would you want to live there given the choice and opportunity to live in a country that scores high ? And every country has problems and issues --- even # 1-10 .

5. It is often said that democracies do not attack democracies ( make offensive war against other democracies) . I belive there is mostly truth to this statement. It is not only the ability of nation states to put away differences; it is equally as important for nation states to aspire to be democratic , remain democratic, and act democratic.

A Jewish state means that the basic traditions and culture of the country the color, if you will is that of the Jewish nation.  For example the holidays celebrated (days off from work) are Jewish not Christian etc....

Here is something else I found

Two different surveys with each a different focus

Interesting to review :

"Democracies in the World". 22 Jan 2013

The big problem with all democracies is that they allow free range to the capitalists.  Not that Socialism is any better, it having proved itself decidedly worse, due to the inflexibility of the system.

Socialism is a part of democracy.  Socialism = ballots.  Communism = bullets.  France just recently voted in a Socialist government.

I think Hitler thought his government was some kind of socialism.

The National Socialist Party of Germany was democratically elected in, but soon afterwards democracy completely disappeared in Germany.  First all of the Communists were rounded up, there were whole areas of Germany under Communist rule at that time, like Bavaria.  Under police custody 5,000 Communists died.  Dachau concentration camp was first used to hold Socialists.  West German Chancellor Willy Brandt was a Socialist who fled to Norway, after the National Socialist Party came to power.  Hitler then assumed complete dictatorial powers, that were based on extreme nationalism.  All forms of media were placed under censorship.  No elections were held in Germany after the elections of 1933, that brought the National Socialist Party to power.  The extreme nationalism led to the Nuremberg Laws, and designating racial enemies of the Third Reich.  Reich in German means empire.  The problem with Israeli-Palestian peace is that it can be very heavily infiltrated by extreme nationalism.  For we are now seeing this rear its head in the upcoming Israeli elections.

Also, after Paul von Hindenburg named Adolf Hitler prime minister, Hitler started a notorious campaign of rounding up all of the Communists.  Socialists too were persecuted, and rounded up.  But what overshadowed Germany's lack of freedom, was its severe economic problems.  Europe's economic recession and malaise today, is leading to the rise of ultra-nationalistic parties in Greece, Romania, Hungary, and Ukraine.  Greece and Hungary especially.  But it does not look like these countries will build up their militaries, which was one of the public works programs Hitler had to put Germans back to work.


Sussan Hitler was anything but socialist...the basis of his belief is that Aryan race is better and deserves more than others.  Socialism believes in equality for all (especially financially)



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