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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Feb. 1, 2011 / 27 Shevat , 5771

On the anniversary of Khomeini's return, a warning from the first post-Iranian revolution president

By Abolhassan Bani-Sadr





An open future for the Arab world could mean the flowering of democracy --- or resurgent dictatorship. To keep a new strongman from taking over, certain conditions must be met


JewishWorldReview.com |

cARIS — (TCSM) By removing a despot who was the main obstacle to democracy, the Tunisian revolt has immense importance for the Arab and Islamic world. Above all, it has opened up a future which, due to the iron grip of an authoritarian political system backed by European and Arab governments, had been considered closed.

As we see already from the burgeoning demonstrations in Egypt, it is not lost on others in the region that ousting corrupt autocrats is no longer just an impossible dream. Tunisia's message to others in the region is that despotism is not a lot in life to which they must submit. That message is spreading fast because the Tunisian democratic movement is legitimately homegrown and not tied to a Western sponsor, as was the case with the US invasion of Iraq.

As I well know from personal experience, however, an open future includes not only the possibility of democracy, but the possibility of resurgent dictatorship in one form or another.

In order to achieve democracy and diminish the prospect of a new strongman taking over, certain conditions have to be fulfilled.

DISTANCE FROM OLD REGIMES AND ELITES
First, the movement has to distance itself from the old regime and its elites. Revolutions only happen when the system is thoroughly dismantled and rebuilt. For now, the political and neo-liberal economic structures which supported Ben Ali's dictatorship, although shaken and fragile, are to a large extent still intact. The same elites are still in charge.

From this perspective, it was a mistake for the movement to enter into negotiations to form a coalition government with the old elites. They can be trusted only when they voluntarily resign and allow themselves to be replaced by others elected by the people.

Second, the entire structure of the despotic regime — the executive, judiciary and legislative branches — should be revolutionized. It would be a mistake to limit the objectives of the movement to simply changing personalities.


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The lack of experience on the part of ordinary people should not lead the movement to import elites from the former regime into the new government. My experience of the 1979 Iranian revolution taught me that in any department and ministry there are enough patriotic experts who are not tarnished by their association with the former regime and who are willing to play a constructive role in rebuilding the country. The fact that the existing elites have the lion's share of the seats in government indicates that there is a serious shortcoming here. This gap has to be filled as soon as possible; otherwise, the elites of the ancien regime will reconstitute their power.

The people in the streets who toppled the regime should not think for a moment that their work is done, and that they can retire to their homes now and leave the rest to political organizations. On the contrary, they must make their presence felt in every corner of the country and at every layer of government, perhaps through the formation of local revolutionary councils.

People should stop looking for leaders to take over, and recognize that everyone can develop leadership skills in practice through taking responsibilities, engaging in debate and working with others in the movement.

PUBLIC SPACE BELONGS TO THE PEOPLE
In democracies, public space belongs to the people. Whenever they feel there are issues to be addressed, they must return to the streets. If people abandon the political space, it will inevitably be filled with power-oriented political organizations that will ultimately re-impose repressive practices.

Despite their many differences from secular to Islamist, political organizations should develop a common commitment to democratic values and the rights of individuals.

Any violation of these principles by the state, against even a single person or group, should be resisted by all.

The unfortunate lesson of the Iranian revolution was that most political organizations did not commit themselves to democracy. Lacking the unity of a democratic front, one by one they became targets of power-seeking clergy in the form of the Islamic Republic Party, and were pushed aside.

In this first peaceful revolt of the 21st century in an Islamic country, Islamic intellectuals have an important role in identifying, developing, and introducing an Islamic discourse of freedom instead of power so that human dignity and rights are respected and defended for all regardless of religion or gender.

After the Iranian revolution, I protested against the show trials and executions of members of the former regime, arguing that those seeking power begin by violating the rights of those who have committed various crimes, but will ultimately violate the rights of the innocent.

The defense of the rights of all citizens must thus include the members of the old regime who are accused of crime and corruption. If the rights of these people are respected, then one can be sure that the rights of others will as well.

As we have seen (and may see further), those in power will resort to violence in order to impose themselves on society. They do so because they believe that people might compromise freedom in exchange for security, and thus become easy prey for a strong dictator or party.

DON'T LET REVOLUTIONARY GUARDS FORM
In order to neutralize the violence of such groups, any new government must resist the temptation to create its own revolutionary guard. If contemporary Iran is any indication, such organizations can all too easily morph into an econo-military mafia that becomes part and parcel of the new elite. The solution is rather to reorganize the existing forces of security so they are subject to civilian democracy and the rule of law.

The experience of Tunisia has shown that a revolution can succeed in overthrowing despotism without relying on a power-oriented Khomeini. When a social movement is spontaneous and horizontal, it has a far greater chance of achieving its goals.

But social revolution is an experiment, the path of which is strewn with obstacles at every turn. As such, it will require persistent struggle over many years, not just for a few weeks.

Now there is no turning back. That struggle will bring true democracy if those who made the revolution persist. If they fall back, strongmen are waiting in the wings to seize power out of the vacuum. Then, as in Iran, the people will have to start all over again to regain their freedom.

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Abolhassan Bani-Sadr was the first president of Iran after the Iranian revolution overthrew the Shah in 1979. Today he lives in exile outside Paris.

© 2011, Global Viewpoint Network/Tribune Media Services. Hosted online by The Christian Science Monitor.