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Jewish World Review July 24, 2002 / 15 Menachem-Av, 5762

Reform, Palestinian Authority Style


http://www.jewishworldreview.com | There was a mad rush for seats as the annual Palestinian Authority cabinet meeting got underway. As the cabinet ministers filed into the rebuilt Mukata boardroom in Ramallah, many of them admired how quickly the place had been refurbished since the Israelis left town, and the mortar holes tastefully filled in with pizza boxes. Ahmed, always one to ingratiate himself, loudly asked President Arafat about his new headdress and the new ivory-studded tables and chairs, spittoons and drinking glasses.

Arafat responded positively "Do you like the new furnishings, Secretary Ahmed? They just arrived today, courtesy of the EU, part of the gift to re-establish the proud Palestinian Authority."

Yasser cleared his voice and began "Fellow jihadniks, thank you for all coming to my Cabinet meeting. Today, we have only one item on the agenda. We are going to decide on what kind of reforms we are going to do. Does anyone have any ideas that they would like to share?"

Mahmoud raised his voice sheepishly "Um, your Excellency, we have heard that there has been pressure from the Americans for democratic reforms to our beloved and already highly efficient PA institutions. What exactly is democracy?"

"That was a question, Mahmoud, not an idea. But, after our proud victory over the Israeli soldiers, I am feeling in a generous mood, so I will allow it, this time, as long as it does not constitute an opinion."

Arafat continued. "Mahmoud, my dear friend and loyal supporter, you ask about "democracy" - I will tell you. Democracy is a tool of needless oppression of naturally selected leaders by the masses of uneducated people and meddling media and ivory-tower academics. In my many travels around the Western world promoting our just cause, I have learned much about these "democracies". The leaders spend their time dealing with all noisy complaints and demonstrations about civil "rights" and "process", fighting with their elected opposition in their parliaments, being "accountable", worrying about being re-elected, and get this - tendering contracts legally - I love that one. Horribly inefficient, quite a waste of time and money. Instead they should be dealing with their country's real problems, like moral decay caused by television, political corruption scandals, rampant sexual immorality and bad television reception. Fortunately, through my wise and effective leadership, we have none of those problems. So you see, we are much more advanced than those so-called "democracies". He paused to play with his revolver, for what seemed like an eternity to the other Cabinet ministers.


Arafat takes first
step to democracy

(Reuters/CNN) RAMALLAH, PALESTINE Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat today announced a ten-step reform package to increase democracy in his state-in-the-making. The plan includes a Cabinet shuffle, an infrastructure development strategy, improved press access, presidential elections, addition of appeals to the PA court system, elimination of corruption, a free press, an end to press censorship, elections for an Opposition, and increased representation in the PA Parliament in Ramallah.

European Union diplomats and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres were ecstatic in their approval of these far-reaching initiatives, citing this as "definitive proof that Arafat has truly become a statesman, and is working hard to develop democratic institutions in areas under his administration". Hundreds of millions of EU foreign aid dollars are expected to start flowing to the Palestinian Authority imminently.


"So if you ask me, all this "democracy" stuff is definitely NOT for the Palestinian people. But, then again, who said anything about democracy? This is the Palestinian Authority, under the wise, supreme and all-knowing leadership of President Yasser Arafat! Who needs curses such as free speech, freedom of the press, independent courts of justice, civil rights, and an elected opposition, when you can have my beneficent, generous leadership? Do you not trust your supreme leader to make proper decisions? If so, anyone should speak up now!"

There was a long silence before Mahmoud reluctantly sat up, squirming. "No Excellency, of course we all trust you completely. It's just that…that…well, you know, those infidel Americans are expecting us to make democratic reforms to our institutions, so that we could continue to receive their, um, contributions to our people's welfare, which of course would continue to be under your wise and unilateral control…it's merely window dressing, and you would continue to be able to use the American and European Union funds for whatever, um, investments that you deemed appropriate."

Arafat thundered back. "Our beloved, oppressed, loyal Palestinian people do not ask for or want such things - moreover, they only distract our limited resources and skills from achieving our ultimate goal, which is…"

"Lining our Swiss bank accounts?" queried Abdallah.

"No, you fool, liberating all of Palestine, from the River to the Sea. So now, in order to please those naïve Americans and EUrocrats, we will talk about what reforms we will be making, some time in the future."

Yasser paused, then scanned the room. "Here is my proposal for a Ten Point Reform Plan. First, we will have a Cabinet "shuffle". With that, he pointed his revolver at Mahmoud, then fired a bullet between his eyes. Ahmed slumped over, the smoke rising behind him. Arafat turned to Ahmed "Stupid Mahmoud, I never liked his opinions. What Cabinet position did he hold?"

Ahmed, trembling, whispered "Your Excellency, he was Minister of Justice, Gaming and Infrastructure Development."

"I see. Ahmed, you are now the new minister of, whatever you just said. Now every one stand up and move to the left one seat, then sit down." They dutifully obliged. "Good, whatever portfolio is in front of you is now yours to do with as you please - with my approval. There, see, Reform is good. We have now completed our Cabinet shuffle."

Arafat continued, excitedly "Ahmed, take this down. We will need to send this to CNN and Reuters immediately - they'll do their usual good work."

"Second, we will issue new road signs for all of the new public works projects to be financed by the EU and the Americans."

"Third, we will bring in a new public relations campaign - with the slogan "President Arafat for Life"."

"Fourth, we will hold President-for-Life "elections", just like they used to do in Russia, Albania, and Pakistan. And to avoid voter confusion, there will only be one candidate."

"Fifth, we will bolster our justice system by establishing appeals of court decisions by the President, for a small administrative fee of 10,000 American infidel dollars."

"Sixth, we will eliminate administrative corruption by instituting a Corruption tax, payable to the Palestinian Treasury, care of the President."

"Seventh, we will institute a free press by forbidding newspapers from charging money for newspapers."

"Eighth, we will lift press censorship for exactly two hours every third week, at a timetable to be determined by the President."

"Ninth, we will allow for election of a Leader of the Opposition, whose only job will be to say nice things about the President for Life".

"Tenth, and lastly, we will allow every Palestinian to have a turn as a member of the Palestinian Authority Parliament for an hour, so they can participate in democracy."

"Good. Now we will take a vote, but just this once. All those in favour of the proposed Ten-Point Reform Plan, say Yessir, Yasser."

"Yessir, Yasser" they unanimously responded. "Good, Our Reform Plan is now approved, and therefore, our cabinet meeting is now adjourned. Come prepared to report on your new portfolios next time we meet, whenever I declare one. And, by the way, don't steal any silverware on your way out - remember, I'm watching you". Ahmed, you've been taking good notes, right?"

"Yessir, Yasser" Ahmed feverishly replied. "Whoever thought that our Reform Plan would be so comprehensive and progressive - why it's light years ahead of any Arab country! I'll go call Reuters and CNN right away - can I use your personal phone?"

"No, idiot! Use the pay phone outside, like everyone else!"

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JWR contributor Jordan Max is a Toronto-based humorist. Send your comments to him by clicking here.


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©2002, Jordan Max