Now that our election quagmire is over with President Elect George W. Bush the winner, our nation can begin the process of healing, uniting, reflecting on the strength of our democracy, and analyzing the uncharted waters of our electoral process and our system of government. It took time and wars for us to eventually settle on "One Man, One Vote" that is the hallmark of our democracy. The One Man, symbolic of all citizens, meant that each American had the right to vote regardless of religion, race and gender. Bush and Gore fought for the right of every American voter to be counted so that all Americans may live in peace and harmony during the next four years. Gore's mantra of "I'll Fight For You" had no militaristic or evil connotations. No one was going to be harmed, jailed, or killed due to Gore's chad fight.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the elections in the so-called "democracy" of Israel. The last two months of the Al Aqsa Intifadah in the Palestinian Occupied Territories showed that the real "democratic" discussions between Barak, Likud and the settlers were not about Israel's economy, education, or even about the elusive peace process.
The discussions were about just how much violence to use to oppress the latest Palestinian uprising. Barak, the Commando General personally responsible for the thousands of Palestinian casualties, was under a great deal of pressure from his own party, his right wing opponents in the Likud, as well as the settlers to crack down even harder on an unarmed civilian population.
Alas, Barak, the man who offered the "most generous concessions" saw his support dwindle and the only way to reclaim his political future was to show Israel just how swiftly and violently he could quell the demonstrations. He unleashed the most modern U.S. made helicopter gunships, the most deadly tanks and snipers, rockets, gunboats, and assassins to show he is worthy of Israel's "peace loving democratic" citizens.
This peace-touting leader put himself on par with the murderous war criminal Ariel Sharon, his likely opponent in the upcoming election. Shockingly, as Palestinians died daily, Barak kept talking of the need for peace negotiations.
This man who claims he is now running on a mandate for "peace", allowed Sharon to desecrate Masjid Al Aqsa. Among his many crimes, he has illegally confiscated and demolished more Palestinian homes than his right-wing extremist predecessor Benjamin Netanyahu, and now has the audacity to seek the support of the Israeli Arabs who supported him in the last election. Instead of choosing the true path to peace, he has chosen the path of violence and squandered 17 months in which he had a real opportunity to seek a fair settlement with the Palestinians.
He unleashed his usual mastery of words and false images upon a nave America. The world and the American media obliged Barak by solely focusing on him as a statesman, while deliberately ignoring the Palestinian funeral processions.
Sadly, the elections in Israel will be boiled down to whom can quash the Palestinian desires for self-determination more effectively. Meanwhile, Israeli settlers who live on confiscated Palestinian land will continue to enjoy generous subsidies, courtesy of the American government.
As Americans celebrate democracy in the United States, they too should support democracy in the Middle East.
But it is likely the leaders of the United States will continue to look the other way as water from Palestinian wells will be taken in exchange for Israeli sewage. They will continue to ignore the fact that Palestinians will be segregated to 10 percent of the West Bank and Gaza surrounded by huge impenetrable fences.
And they will close their eyes as Palestinians are denied entry into areas other than those designated by the Israeli government.
So let Barak and Netanyahu begin their elections in their warped view of democracy, in which one religious group continues to practice ethnic cleansing against others.
Dr. Mohamed Khodr is a physician and Muslim activist living in the Washington, D.C. area.