As the images from Syria continue to dominate television screens throughout the world, one can’t escape the reality that we are witnessing a defining moment in the history of the Middle East. The Arab Spring, or summer, or winter (depends on who you ask these days) has resulted in a popular uprising against Bashar Assad’s brutal regime that is nothing less than amazing. Fathers, mothers and sons are standing their ground in front of tanks and armored vehicles chanting Patrick Henry’s famous quote “give me liberty or give me death”.
The democratic revolution that swept Tunisia, Egypt and Libya has culminated in a Syrian civil war in which the stakes are high. Should the rebels lose this battle, all that awaits them and their families is the wrath of an Arab dictator long bereft of humanity. For Bashar Assad, it’s also a zero sum game, one in which losing is not an option.
Yet as I watched the BBC reports from the bombarded city of Dara’a earlier this week, I couldn’t help but think that the Syrians have got it wrong. They are buying into the assumption that democracy works, that democracy is the best form of government or the closest thing to it. What I’m thinking is, to hell with it- bring back the monarchy!
When asked to imagine our dream candidate for public office, we often think of great leaders that have inspired their nations- the Chrchills, Lincolns and the Mandelas; men of conviction, courage and vision who wrote history rather than be swept by the currents of the Zeitgeist. But how many politicians really fan out to be such men? How many great leaders has Israel had in recent years?
Public opinion polls have consistently shown that Israelis no longer revere their leaders but have become accustomed to settling for the lesser of two evils. It’s a choice between voting for Livni whom you don’t believe or Bibi whom you detest.
Besides, at the beginning of the 21st Century it’s fair to say that democracy has turned into a political system that all but ensures that the least qualified person is elected into office. Today’s prime candidate has to be a sweet talking, baby kissing, multi-tasking, photogenic pathological liar. He has to promise that which can not be achieved and fight in the name of that which he does not believe. In the age of the spin-doctors and sound bites, the candidate must be as articulate as a five year old delivering well written, well tested, one-liners. And most importantly, he must never accept the premise of a question.
But what about a monarch? One who from birth knows that he is destined to one day ascend to the throne and be entrusted with the fate of his people? Monarchs are trained throughout life for such a moment and are taught the skills of leadership. They receive the finest education in the finest institutions and throughout their life are prepared for the task at hand by their predecessor thus ensuring that the sum of accumulated knowledge is passed from one generation to the next.
True, there have been some rather bad monarchs in the history of the world, a fair amount of lunatics and mad men who drove their countries into oblivion. One of them was even willing to sell his kingdom for a horse. However, the chances of this occurrence can be dramatically reduced by choosing a proper candidate to start the future lineage.
I suddenly realized that if I was serious about promoting a new Israeli monarchy, I had to find the right man for the job.
Sweden, by all accounts a sane and prosperous country, found itself in a similar situation in the early 19th century. King Charles XIII of Sweden was childless, old and dying. The Sweds needed an heir and they needed a good one. Panic stricken they went through endless lists of possible candidates until, finally, they decided to offer the gig to none other than the French General Jean Baptiste Jules Bernadotte. The General selflessly accepted the offer and his hires have sat on the thrown of Sweden ever since.
Of course nowadays, choosing a King would be much easier. All Sweden had to do was twitter
@Sweden: King old and dying. Looking for a new one. Any suggestions?
This message would have been re-tweeted all over Europe and possible candidates would have been approached.
As I set forth on the daunting task of finding a King for Israel I sifted through current royal families looking for family members who had no real chance of becoming kings in their own land. Then it became clear; there was only one man who could fill the Israeli leadership void- H.R.H Harry, The Prince of Whales.
Like Israel, Harry has also suffered much tragedy at young age only to persevere and mature into an intelligent, commanding, dashing rebellious young man. His Highness is accustomed to being at the center of attention, having every move or sentence scrutinized by the cynical world press. He has also served his country in combat in Afghanistan and knows how to fire a semi-automatic weapon which could come in handy in the Middle East. Lastly, The Prince could align himself with Israeli foreign policy as he too is part of a dying empire struggling to hold onto a little settlement named Northern Ireland.
Most importantly, the Prince is already familiar with protocol, etiquette and the ways of Kings and Queens. He has been groomed by the finest etiquette experts in the world- the British. So sure, there is the whole issue of converting to Judaism but if Hollywood royalty Liz Taylor did it so could Harry, or shall we refer to him by his Hebrew name- King Hillel?
On Wednesdays evening, after finding a suitable candidate for the Israeli monarchy, I turned in only to awaken to a media blitz. Within one day Prince Harry had turned into “dirty Harry” as naked pictures of His Highness taken in Las Vegas appeared on numerous gossip websites. To think that I was so close to ending the broken Israeli democracy…
Oh well, we could always try Communism.