DISCOURSE OF CHANGE

By Nir Boms

(Lecture notes given in Melbourne, Australia)

The main domestic objective of most Middle Eastern governments is to maintain the status quo regarding the balance between citizen freedoms and oppression.

Opposition movements can be roughly divided into two main groups: Islamist opposition, which think the governments are too secular, and the democratic or reform-minded opposition.

The Islamists seek to replace governments, but the democrats are not yet in that position. They seek reforms, the creation of greater freedoms and the like. There is an inherent difference between the ability of these two groups to achieve – or go about achieving – their goals; radicals are more focused in their objectives, and have easily defined goals. Intellectuals generally do not, nor do they have the infrastructure (such as mosques, access to money, etc.) to support their objectives.
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A Solid Start

Election season has arrived in the Middle East. It seems that most of the residents of this troubled region have cast ballots in the past 12 months. Truly, what appeared impossible a few years ago is now happening before our eyes. While there is justifiable anguish about Hamas’s recent victory in the Palestinian elections and the Muslim Brotherhood’s rise in Egypt, we must not lose sight of the broader trend toward democratization. This trend provides reason for hope, as well as reason to place more emphasis on the liberal institution-building that can build a democratic tradition in the long run View full post…

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Illiberal Democracy on the Rise?

published in THE WEEKLY STANDARD

Recent events highlight the need for liberal institutions in the Middle East; here’s how to promote them.
by Daveed Gartenstein-Ross & Nir Boms
04/13/2006 12:00:00 AM

When Americans learned that 41-year-old Afghan citizen Abdul Rahman could be put to death for converting to Christianity, they were outraged. Chuck Colson spoke for many when he wrote, “Is this the fruit of democracy? Is this why we have shed American blood and invested American treasure to set a people free?” (Although Abdul Rahman was ultimately whisked away to the safety of Italy, the apostasy laws used to charge him haven’t been repealed.) When the Abdul Rahman case is added to Hamas’s electoral victory in the Palestinian territories and the Muslim Brotherhood’s gains in Egypt’s recent parliamentary elections, a disturbing trend emerges: the rise of illiberal democracy in the Middle East. View full post…

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Watching the Watchdog

The media’s role is to be the watchdog of democracy. But what happens when the watchdog falls into an unexpected trap? What happens when it is betrayed from within and maliciously manipulated in order to create a skewed picture of reality?

by Nir Boms and Elliot Chodoff (10/25/2007) – published in OMedia.com

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?“Who watches the watchmen?” asked the Roman poet Juvenal, paraphrasing a central problem discussed by Plato in The Republic.

The pursuit of “Justice” is a tricky business in a complicated world demanding that we make judgments about critical issues beyond our immediate perception like global warming, foreign policy, peace and war.

Fortunately -at least in the democratic world – we have a tool meant to facilitate these difficult judgments: the media, a free and open marketplace of ideas; a platform for information and views helping formulate wise and fair judgments. View full post…

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