"After Tunisia: Don't forget Palestine"

Avi Shlaim responds to Raja Shehadeh's Palestinian perspective in the Guardian feature in which leading writers from across the Arab world reflect on the Tunisia protests. Shlaim, author of Israel and Palestine, urges us to remember Palestine:

Your 10 Arab writers gave voice to the wave of optimism that is sweeping through their countries in the wake of the peaceful revolution in Tunisia ("After Tunisia", 29 January). It was melancholy to note, however, that Raja Shehadeh, the Palestinian lawyer and writer, cannot share in this optimism. While the rest of the Arab world is at long last moving towards participatory democracy, a police state is emerging in Palestine with active western support.

Until a few years ago, Palestine was the only democracy in the Arab world. In January 2006, Hamas won a free and fair election but was not allowed to enjoy the fruits of its victory. Israel, the US and the European Union refused to recognise the Hamas-led government and did everything in their power to undermine it. These countries never tire of extolling the virtues of democracy but when the people vote for the wrong party, they condemn the outcome. It was always a mistake to pursue security at the expense of freedom and democracy. And it would be short-sighted to persist in this policy towards any Arab country, including Palestine, for without democracy there can be no lasting peace.

Visit the Guardian to read the feature and responses in full. 

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