Friday, January 19, 2007

A Matter of Democracy

I don't think I've mentioned here at the blog that I have returned to post-graduate studies and am doing a MA in Political Science at the Gilo Center for Citizenship, Democracy and Civic Education at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

This item is then quite relevant:-

Ambush Kills an American Teaching Democracy to Iraqis


An American woman killed here on Wednesday when gunmen fired on her convoy of vehicles was ambushed just minutes after leaving the headquarters of a prominent Sunni Arab political party, where she had been teaching a class on democracy, party members said Thursday.

They said the woman — Andrea Parhamovich, 28, of Perry, Ohio — left the party’s fortified compound in western Baghdad around 4 p.m., heading east to her group’s offices outside the Green Zone, when she and her armed guards came under attack from all sides...during the fierce firefight, guards tried to escape, fought back, then called for reinforcements from other private security contractors.

The attackers — perhaps as many as 30 men, according to witness accounts passed on to Mr. Campbell — used heavy weapons, possibly rocket-propelled grenades, destroying the armored sedan that Ms. Parhamovich was in and killing three of her armed guards: a Croatian, a Hungarian and an Iraqi. Two other security contractors were wounded. The attackers then scattered back into the neighborhood...Ms. Parhamovich [w]as a driven young woman, inspired by politics and a desire to help Iraqis connect with their newly elected government.

He said she joined the National Democratic Institute, a nonprofit organization based in Washington that has worked in Iraq since 2003, after working for a few months with a similar group in Baghdad.

The NDI, by the way, has Madeline K. Albright as its president.

And it has a program in the "West Bank & Gaza".

And what is their Program Overview in this area of the world?

NDI provides training and support to democrats and civic organizations throughout the West Bank and Gaza. Through cooperation with local partners, NDI programs aim to enhance multiparty pluralism by providing assistance to democratic political movements, to ensure free and fair elections through monitoring and observation, and to enhance political competition and representative governance through trainings in campaign organization and platform development.

The recent municipal and presidential elections provided important opportunities and training for NDI's political party partners. The development of Palestinian political parties, which includes the active participation of women activists, is a long-term endeavor. The elections of the past two years provided Palestinian political parties with meaningful opportunities to reengage with one another, reinvigorating the political process and furthering party development.

Throughout the elections, NDI conducted a variety of campaign schools and consultations that concentrated on applicable skills such as: organizing a campaign team, building a field organization, campaign planning, targeting and research, developing and implementing a voter contact strategy, communications strategies, selecting and preparing candidates, and fundraising. Additionally, NDI provided training programs in campaign management and candidate training for the 2006 parliamentary elections.

But, what to do -

Despite the existence of multiple political parties, Palestinian society remains largely polarized between the ruling Hamas movement and its foremost rival, Fateh. During the January 2006 parliamentary elections, Hamas upset decades of Fateh political dominance when it won 74 out of 132 seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). The broader international community has refused to recognize Hamas's control over the Palestinian Authority (PA), since the party does not recognize Israel and has refused to renounce violence as a means to achieve political goals. Fateh, whose leadership recognizes Israel, forswears violence, and endorses preexisting agreements, remains notorious among Palestinians for endemic corruption and ineptitude. Tension between the two parties remains high and eclipses smaller, reform-minded parties eager to initiate progressive policies.

I hope my academic grounding in democracy education will prove to be more adept at fixing the world.

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