Friday, May 30, 2008

Arabs think Israeli PM Olmert is a fool

But not because he's Jewish, Zionist or anything like that. It's because Olmert is only a little corrupt. Israeli-Arab journalist Khaled Abu Toameh writes in the Jeruslaem Post of some of the reactions across the Arab world to the intensifying pressures on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to resign because of corruption charges.

Among other things, Olmert is accused of accepting $150,000 in bribes from an American over a 14-year period, which Mr. Toameh said evoked this response from foreign Arabs.
"They say he received something like $3,000 a year," said Abu Atab from Morocco inaccurately. "This shows that Olmert is a decent man. This is a small sum that any Arab government official would receive on a daily basis as a bribe. Our leaders steal millions of dollars and no one dares to hold them accountable."

Touching on the same issue, a reader from Algeria posted this comment: "In the Arab world, our leaders don't accept less than $1 million in bribes; the money must be deposited in secret bank accounts in Switzerland. Olmert is a fool if he took only a small sum."

Another comment, this time from Ahmed in Jordan, also referred to the alleged amount: "Only a few thousand dollars? What a fool! This is what an Egyptian minister gets in a day or what a Saudi CEO gets in 45 minutes, or a Kuwaiti government official in five minutes. This is what the physician of the emir of Qatar gets every 30 seconds."
However, there was strong praise for Israel from Arabs who admitted they hated the Jewish state and all it stands for, except this:
A Saudi national named Abdel Karim urged his Arab brethren to stop criticizing Israel and learn something about its democracy. "Before we curse Israel, we must learn from the democratic and judicial system in Israel, where no one is above the law," he wrote.

Khaled, another Saudi national, chimed in: "Although we are talking about Israel, which I have always hated very much, there is still no one above the law there."

Mahmoud al-Bakili of Yemen posted the following response on one of the Web sites: "We want this kind of accountability and transparency in the Arab and Islamic world."

And there was this comment from an Arab who described himself as a Syrian Voice: "Despite my strong hatred for the Zionist regime, I have a lot of admiration and respect for this entity because there is no one above the law. In the Arab world, laws are broken every day and no one seems to care."
One Arab reader offered some advice to Olmert:
One Arab commentator who identified himself as Jasser Abdel Hamid advised Olmert to seek citizenship of one of the Arab countries. "Why don't you seek Arab citizenship?" he asked sarcastically. "There you can take as much money as you want. Even if they discover the theft, they will erect a statue for you in a public square."
Finally, Rashid Bohairi in Kuwait asked a very good question: "What about the millions of dollars that Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority stole? How come the Palestinian people are still hungry?"

Well, yes. Even the Palestinian Authority admitted that Yasir Arafat stole them blind, but then its post-Arafat leaders went right on doing the same thing.

BTW, along with 11 others in my group, I met and talked with journalist Toameh in Israel last October.

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