...A few days ago the chief of the Israeli police resigned after an investigation that found several of Israel’s highest police officers guilty of corruption and negligence. This came within a week of the forced resignation of Israel’s Chief of Staff from the military because of the fiascos of the second Lebanon war... some ten days after Israel’s minister of justice was convicted of sexual assault while on duty... after Israel’s president – who holds a largely symbolic position – resigned temporarily following charges of rape and sexual misconduct. ....several other investigations are still pending, not least two or three directed at the Prime Minister himself, Ehud Olmert, concerning corruption and favoritism... Suddenly the Palestinians and the Hizbullah, and even Iranian nukes, have taken a back seat: Israel does indeed seem in danger of imploding from within, at least as a viable democracy.
At a time when several Arab regimes are at least feinting toward political reform, Jordan is goose-stepping backward. Freedom of assembly has been restricted, and the threshold for dissent has been ratcheted down as political prisoners accumulate and oppositionists are rattled out of bed for interrogation. Journalists have been intimidated or bribed into spying on colleagues and sources. Street demonstrations have been all but eliminated by laws that require protesters to carry permits that are prohibitively difficult to obtain... Corruption, defiantly uninhibited compared with the low-key looting that percolated under the late King Hussein, has soared. And although diplomats tend to absolve Abdullah of wrongdoing--he is deceived, they imply, by courtiers scheming behind his back--a growing number of Jordanians believe that the 43-year-old monarch is not only aware of the plundering but may be very much a part of it.