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Name: Antony Loewenstein
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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Getting real

Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz, January 22:

"Alas, ‘the elections in the Palestinian Authority were supposed to be part of the democratic process, but they are not. There is no democracy in the world that would allow a terrorist organization to participate in elections,’ cried the new foreign minister, Tzipi Livni.

There is no basis, of course, for this emotion. Even the United States agreed to allow people suspected of terror activity to participate in its two new 'democracies' - Iraq and Afghanistan - if only in the hope that it might help the governments in these states win some sort of legitimacy. The U.S. also expressed quiet satisfaction about Hezbollah's participation in Lebanon's government for the first time. The administration believes that, in this way, an organization defined as terrorist might demonstrate greater political responsibility.

Livni, therefore, can calm down and turn her attention to several other non-democratic matters that are happening in the PA areas - the checkpoints, the felling of trees, the theft of land. Hamas' participation in the parliamentary elections is the least of her worries."

For more on the Palestinian elections, read here, here, here and here.

UPDATE: Veteran Israeli peace activist, journalist and politician Uri Avnery adds his voice of reason to the debate:

"Hamas's presence in the next Palestinian government is not a reason to reject peace negotiations. On the contrary, it is a compelling reason for starting them at long last. It would mean that we negotiate with the entire Palestinian spectrum (excluding only the small Islamic Jihad organization). If Hamas joins the government on the basis of Mahmoud Abbas' peace policy, it is manifestly ripe for negotiations, with or without arms, based on a hudnah (truce).

"Thirty years ago, when I started secret contacts with the Palestine Liberation Organization leadership, I was almost the only person in Israel in favour of negotiating with the organization that was at the time officially designated as "terrorist". It took almost 20 years for the Israeli government to come round to my point of view. Now we are starting again from the same point."


Blogger Wombat said...

Pretty hipocrtical of the US to lay down the law abotu terrorist organisations entering the mainstream of politics when Al Qaeda supporters have won seats in the "democratic" Iraq election.

Gota love Uri Avnery. Such wisdom.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006 12:38:00 pm  
Blogger Ibrahamav said...

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006 1:43:00 pm  
Blogger Ibrahamav said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006 3:28:00 pm  
Blogger violet said...

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006 10:44:00 pm  
Blogger violet said...

his particular post of yours Antony makes me feel very very sick. Sometimes your point of view is so shocking it gives me goose bumps and makes me want to puke.

Hamas is a terrorist organisation that will not lay down it's arms and demands the destruction of the state of Israel and its population.

How can anybody defend this?


Tuesday, January 24, 2006 10:51:00 pm  
Blogger Edward Mariyani-Squire said...

"If Hamas joins the government on the basis of Mahmoud Abbas' peace policy, it is manifestly ripe for negotiations, with or without arms, based on a hudnah (truce)."

This is very similar to the line of Sydney lawyer, Irfan Yusuf, on his blog Planet Irf:

"Including HAMAS in government will give the organisation a much-needed injection of the harsh realities of administration and government. It is hoped that in government, HAMAS will recognise the need to compromise, to aim for the possible rather than the rhetorically popular but unachievable. Carping and sending other people’s children to their deaths is easy. Balancing competing interests and making tough decisions that can even hurt your supporters is very hard."

Tuesday, January 24, 2006 11:05:00 pm  
Blogger Ibrahamav said...

"It is hoped that in government, HAMAS will recognise the need to compromise" It is also hoped that pigs will fly.

"Negotiation is not a taboo," Mahmoud Zahar told reporters in Gaza City. "Negotiations are a means. If Israel has anything to offer on the issues of halting attacks, withdrawal, releasing prisoners ... then 1,000 means can be found."

Israeli officials have dismissed such changes as cosmetic campaign ploys and point to earlier statements by Hamas leaders that the party's extremist goals have not changed.

Indeed, later on Monday night, before crowds of thousands of core supporters, Zahar and other Hamas candidates said they would never give up their insistence on the destruction of Israel and the right to armed struggle.

"We are entering the legislative council to make it a project of resistance," he told a cheering crowd Monday night in the Zeitoun neighborhood, according to press accounts.

Referring to the ruling Fatah party, which controls the Palestinian Authority, Zahar added, "Do you want to abandon the program of sacrifice and jihad for the program of fancy cars and big salaries?"

Wednesday, January 25, 2006 12:28:00 am  
Blogger neoleftychick said...

Israel should treat Hamas in exactly the same way Jordan treated the PLO.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006 1:31:00 am  
Blogger Edward Mariyani-Squire said...

Ibrahamav said...
"It is hoped that in government, HAMAS will recognise the need to compromise" It is also hoped that pigs will fly.

And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
- Matthew 14:31

Wednesday, January 25, 2006 2:03:00 am  
Blogger Wombat said...

neoleftychick said...

"Israel should treat Hamas in exactly the same way Jordan treated the PLO."

The definition of insanity. Doing the ame thing over and over and expecting a different outcome.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006 2:05:00 am  
Blogger Ibrahamav said...

Seems Jordan is still going strong and the PLO stays away. Must have worked.

Your definition of insanity is insane. Most great things occured by doing the same thing over and over again but changing one tiny aspect each time.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006 5:58:00 am  
Blogger RHRoss said...


Israel's first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion, directed the terrorist war to drive out the British and the Palestinians to create the State of Israel. He also worked to create civil war in Lebanon .... it's all in the history books ... to further the aims of Israel.

How can anyone defend this?

Well, they did. One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.

How come terrorism is okay to found the State of Israel but not okay to found the State of Palestine?

As to Hamas, the reason for its popularity is that it is an 'on the ground' movement that has achieved a great deal for the Palestinians in terms of health care, support, education and maintenance of some social function.

Fatah failed the Palestinians miserably and Hamas have done the hard work and made a difference.

As to their stated aim to get rid of Israel .... well, given that they consider Israel to be illegal ... understandable. Australian Aborigines, American Indians, New Zealand Maoris wanted pretty much the same thing of their coloniser/occupiers.

But, Hamas has also said it is prepared to talk to the Israelis and to negotiate. Generally that gets ignored because if Israel had someone to talk to then, well, they would not have an excuse to not talk.

First it was Arafat they could not deal with. Then he was dead, probably poisoned by Israel and I suspect they are regretting that. Then Abu Mazen but they said he was not much good either. Now it looks like Hamas will come out on top in the elections, as they should, and Israel is saying they can't talk to them.

What gives Israel the right to dictate to the Palestinians who should represent them? Stupid question I know. Arrogance and a refusal to accept that the Palestinians have a right to be heard.

The other thing, and anyone who has spent time in such places knows this, in Arab culture (Indians and many Asian are the same and by the way so are the Israelis), it is important to preserve 'face' by taking a hard line.

In other words, there is what you say you will do or what you want and what you really will do and what you really want.... very different things quite often.

It's what unions and corporations call the 'ambit claim'. Sure Hamas would like to see Israel disappear but do they really, truly think it will happen? No. Do they think they could destroy it? No.

Does Israel want to keep all the land it has taken from the Palestinians since the Six-Day war? Sure it does. Does it think it can? Maybe but probably not.

Would Israel like the Palestinians to disappear? Sure. Do they think they will? No. Could they destroy them? Absolutely, in military terms, but in terms of any future for the State of Israel they would destroy themselves in the process because the world would not stand for it.

Slaughtering Palestinians, as some of the Israeli nutters suggest, would simply lead to more international guilt which this time would see the Israelis pushed back, maybe beyond the 47 borders, and the Palestinians given even more of a State than they might otherwise have.

So you see, there is no way out. Israel has to talkk to the Palestinians eventually. Even if it is led by Hamas.

That is the reality on the ground.

It's all about negotiation.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006 6:06:00 am  
Blogger Ibrahamav said...

There is no need to defend the fake facts you report.

"As to their stated aim to get rid of Israel .... well, given that they consider Israel to be illegal ... understandable. Australian Aborigines, American Indians, New Zealand Maoris wanted pretty much the same thing of their coloniser/occupiers."

Let us know about all of the suicide missions completed by the Australian Aborigines, American Indians, and New Zealand Maoris.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006 6:32:00 am  
Blogger RHRoss said...


The indigenous peoples of the Americas and Australasia did not possess explosives. Perhaps if they had they would have used them in this way to fight against oppression and occupation.

They certainly found other ways to kill, both soldiers and civilians, which is what the Palestinians do isn't it?

It's what the Zionists did too and they certainly had explosives and used them against British soldiers and Palestinian civilians.

Does it make it worse that the Palestinians kill themselves at the same time?

Or is it braver to sacrifice your own life in the battle against occupation?

I am a pacifist so I reject all violence but for those who aren't like yourself, does it take more courage to set a bomb to blow up soldiers and civilians as the zionists did or to blow yourself up as the bomb as Palestinians have done?

But you probably don't want to answer that.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006 6:52:00 am  
Blogger Ibrahamav said...

They do now. They are still displaced. Most are still in the courts getting justice.

There are few factual stories of Jews (and the vast, vast, vast, majoity of zionists in the region were Jews... and of course, all Jews who identify themselves as such, religiously, are zionists. So using the term zionist other than jew is disingenuous. I guess we can call all of the arabs in the area, since few identified themselves as palestinians, as islamofascists, would equivilize the termanology)committing deliberate acts of terror against women and childre.

And I mean factual, not made up stories designed to scare easily frightened arabs into fleeing. remember, most who fled did so without ever seeing a Jew.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006 8:18:00 am  
Blogger Ibrahamav said...

Is it braver? No. because there are no consequences. That is why suicide is always the cowards way out.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006 8:19:00 am  
Blogger Wombat said...

No conceqeuences? In that case, why are the Israeli's so worried abotu being attacked by iran? What's the worst thing that can happen?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006 8:51:00 am  
Blogger RHRoss said...

My reference to zionists was to the zionist gangs active in the violent establishment of Israel.

I do not believe all Jews are zionists just as all Israelis are not.

There were also differences amongst Jews in the interpretations and the radicalism of zionism. The violent radicals gave it a bad name, as they do in any movement.

Many Jews were also opposed to Zionism because they did not believe in the establishment of an Israeli state which involved dispossession of the Palestinians.

British and American Jews at the time did not see a need for it given that they were free to practice their religion as citizens of other countries.

Without the Nazis there would be no Israel. It was only through the guilt which the international community felt that the Zionist movement was able to grow as it did and force the partition of Palestine through manipulation and lobbying.

But here is where we are at. The past, as I have said more than once is not what is important but the now.

And to suicide bombers being cowards. How do you come to that conclusion? Surely someone who plants a bomb that will kill and maim others and then runs away to safety is the coward?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006 9:59:00 am  
Blogger RHRoss said...

The Israelis want to be the only ones in the Middle East with nuclear capability.

Part of this may be paranoia but a lot of it is merely a desire for power.

There is however a modicum of insanity involved in it all given how small Israel is and how many neighbours it has because if Israel used nuclear weapons against them it would impact upon its own people and environment.

One can understand the Iranian accusation of hypocrisy given the fact that Pakistan, something of a wild card with a leader who took power in a military coup, has nuclear weapons, so does India and so do the North Koreans.... another wild card.

Why should America dictate who can and cannot have nuclear weapons. You can't have one rule for yourself and another for the rest. Fact is you cannot impose that rule anyway.

Why should Israel have nuclear weapons and not Iran? Who says the Iranians can't be trusted? Israel. It is Israel that has made a habit of bombing and attacking its neighbours not Iran.

But never let the facts get in the way of a good argument.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006 10:05:00 am  
Blogger Wombat said...


How may countries has Iran attacked or occupied in the last Century? Yet, the US and Israel, both of whm are occupiers and who have declared war on other countries are assumign the moral highground.

What's more, is that Iran is a signatory of the NPT, while Israel, a nn NPT sinatory is makign waves abotu bombing them, even though iran has met all it;s obligations under the NPT.

Kafkaeque indeed.

Mind you, I don't think it's a particularly good idea for Iran or anyone to have nukes. Those that have them have done so as a result of threats or a sykmboic token of national pride.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006 10:22:00 am  
Blogger RHRoss said...

i agree addamo in a nuclear free world.

but, following the US invasionof Iraq we will not get it. Iraq was invaded because it DID not have nuclear weapons. It didn't have anything much actually.

North Korea is not invaded because it does; the lesson is simple, get your nukes cos that way you won't be invaded.

Of course everyone wants them now. Sigh. It was all so tragically predictable.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006 11:25:00 am  
Blogger Wombat said...

What better evidence can there be that Iran does "not" have nukes?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006 12:25:00 pm  
Blogger Ibrahamav said...

It does not matter what Rhr believes. That is just a guess. It is a fact that all jews, who identify religiously as Jews, are zionists.

Iran is a country that has a history of supporting terrorism by third countries against its perceived enemies. It also has a history of legislative insanity.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006 4:22:00 pm  
Blogger neoleftychick said...

If Hamas wins these elections, the West will withdraw from its baby-sittying the Palestinians. We will withdraw all our aid.

Personally I think the welfare dependency of these people is their downfall. It is time to disband the UNRWA. These people need to start supporting themselves.

Israel would be more than justified in some heavy-handed unilateralism if the fools make the grave mistake of voting for Hamas.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006 8:30:00 pm  
Blogger RHRoss said...

I take it that means you also think the Israelis should start supporting themselves and the billions that the US sends to them every year should be cut off.

Good idea. Let's cut off all the money to both of them and they can sort it out together.

Although the fact is the Palestinians would probably do better since their aid is so minimal and the Israeli economy would fall in a heap because they cannot survive without American support.

Now, just who is 'welfare dependent' in this case? Yes, you are right, the Israelis.

Thursday, January 26, 2006 4:37:00 am  
Blogger Ibrahamav said...

The billions sent by the US to israel is mostly for arms and mostly spent in the US. Regardless, it is a drop in the GNP bucket for Isral.

For the Palestinians, the charity they receive via the American and European government is there gnp. They face bankruptcy without it.

Your conclusion, as always, is based on guesses and addamo.

Friday, January 27, 2006 8:27:00 am  

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