Dictators Aren't Forever

The importance of the civil unrest in Tunisia is impossible to exaggerate.

It's impossible to exaggerate the importance of the civil unrest in Tunisia. It wasn't just about ousting a dictator, but about a display of power by people that Middle Eastern countries regard as insignificant and powerless - as bound by the whims of the regime, their obedience taken for granted.

This isn't a revolution fomented externally or a violent coup, similar to what the United States did in Iraq. Because of this, it is more than a Tunisian revolution; it is, first of all, a revolution in outlook, and it would behoove every repressive regime in the world to take it seriously. It's no wonder, then, that other Arab countries are regarding the Tunisian uprising with fear and worry.

This isn't the first civil revolution in the greater Middle East. It was preceded by the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran and the 2005 civil uprising in Lebanon, which brought about Syria's withdrawal from Lebanon. Both these examples show the Tunisian revolution needs to be handled carefully. Ousting a repressive regime does not guarantee stability, civil liberties or a better government, but it does create a window of opportunity. International support is needed to make sure the revolution brings a democratic government that will carry out the desires of the Tunisian people.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu quickly described the revolution as an indication of the region's instability. His response is unfortunate, and shows he is stubbornly clinging to the status quo. Of all people, it is Netanyahu, who for years demanded that the Arabs institute democratic rule as a condition for a stable peace, who is now siding with autocracies in the name of stability.

The citizens of Tunisia, who were briefly brought closer to Israel by the Oslo Accords, deserve the best wishes of Israel's democracy-loving citizens. Instead of condemning the so-called Jasmine Revolution as a threat to regional stability, Israel's government must use the opportunity to convince the citizens of Tunisia and other Arab countries that it deserves their trust and that it intends to renounce the occupation and the settlements, just as France no longer occupies Algeria or Tunisia.