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Friday, January 27, 2006

Hamas rises

The victory of Hamas in the Palestinian elections is, in the words of one Haaretz commentator, "one of the most important events in the history of the Middle East since the Six Day War." The Palestinian people have spoken and elected a party that they believe will be a viable alternative to the endemically corrupt Fatah. It should be noted that Hamas was not running on a platform of destroying Israel or wiping Jews from the face of the earth - its charter was barely even raised during the campaign - but rather, the corruption in the Palestinian Authority and its failure in improving the conditions of the Palestinian people.

Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Jewish group Tikkun, writes this:

"Just as the election of previously Israeli terrorists Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Shamir and Ariel Sharon set the backdrop for the possibility of peace negotiations with Israel's enemies in the past thirty years, the election of the murderous terrorists of Hamas may ultimately make it more likely that a peace agreement entered into by a Hamas dominated government would actually amount to something lasting and substantial.

"We at Tikkun have no sympathy for Hamas' terrorism, and we are distressed that the new government of the Palestinians will be a government collaborating with those whose hands are drenched in blood. But this does not distinguish them, for example, from Ariel Sharon's government or George Bush's government, which have both been responsible for the deaths of more innocent civilians than Hamas (though always excusing themselves because these deaths were 'only collateral damage'). So Israel and the U.S. ought to get off of their moral outrage at Hamas and recognize that this election provides them, in the long run, with opportunities to make peace with their enemies. But that will only happen if Israel and the U.S. stop using the lame excuse that they won't negotiate with terrorists, a position that would have led the U.S. to remain in Vietnam to this day, refusing to talk to Vietnamese terrorists."

World reaction has been swift and utterly predictable.

Grave concerns exist about the true intent of Hamas and only the most idealistic would ignore these warnings. For example, an Iranian-style repressive environment for the women of Palestine would be a major concern, as would a virulent Holocaust-denying environment. There is evidence that Hamas is already taking some responsibility for a less militant future, though only time will tell how effective that will be.

The democratic world, supposedly warmly embraced by neo-conservatives everywhere, must accept the Palestinian result. Hamas is now a legitimate political force.

Tikkun expresses my personal feelings pretty accurately:

"We at Tikkun are not so optimistic about Hamas - their legacy of violence is deeply troublesome. But then again, we tend to be very critical of anyone who relies on violence, including the Israeli government and the United States government, and also the gangsters now running Iran, China, the Soviet Union, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Sudan and the list goes on and on and on. It is without compromising our critique of these governments that we simultaneously support steps for peaceful accommodation rather than military escalations."

Israel's current path is leading to inevitable disaster, a walled-in, ghetto-style Zionism defined by occupation and oppression. The rise of Hamas may force Israel to negotiate with its former enemies and reach a long-lasting peace agreement. Of course, this may all be wishful thinking, but today's election result does nothing to challenge Israel's military, political and economic supremacy in the Middle East.


Blogger Iqbal Khaldun said...

Yes a tough one, this one. Hard to know what Hamas will do. Equally hard to know how Israel will react. For eg, will Israel be emboldened to assassinate PA officials now that they will also be labeled 'terrorist Hamas members'? Will Hamas's name be used as an excuse to freeze aid to Palestinians?

Israel's assassination of all of Hamas's most senior leaders means the organisation is very young and inexperienced. Fundamentally, I reject any organisation that is based on racial or religious exclusion and blind dogma. That would include Hamas. At the same time, Hamas is widely respected for sticking to the key principle of attaining meaningful Palestinian statehood. While fat cats in the PA under Fatah buy concrete from Egypt and sell it to Israel, which Israel in turn uses to build the separation wall, Hamas has continued to provide important community services, including medical services. Palestinians know this, and I suspect that is why so many voted for Hamas, even if they do not necessarily support Hamas's ideology. Yes Hamas have also helped turn bomb making and the indoctrination of would-be suicide bombers into a cottage industry. But how does this make them any more or less credible than Sharon's Likud or the IDF?

The real concern amongst the powerful in Israel and abroad is that Hamas will not continue the despotic middleman role that Fatah (or those affiliated with Fatah at the least) did so 'effectively'. There is a good chance Hamas will insist on meaningful self-determination for the Palestinian people. That is a threat to Israel, which has never compromised on its ultimate aim of creating a micro-empire encompassing the lands currently inhabited by the Palestinians. And it is a threat to the US's domination of the Middle East (oil) which in turn relies on concentrated military investment in regional allies (most of the governments of the region, whether Jewish, Arab or of some other origin).

Friday, January 27, 2006 2:30:00 pm  
Blogger orang said...

It's tough shit that the Israeli's, US and EU were quite content to have the Fatah well fed and toothless. That way they didn't have to go out and hunt. However, eventually even they had to come up with something, some kind of "progress" that an equitable solution was in the making. But the people know nothing was going to happen.
That's why they voted this way. Israel must be in ecstacy - "we have no parther for peace" - again. We can't believe how clever we are..)

Friday, January 27, 2006 7:02:00 pm  
Blogger Wombat said...

Spot on. After Sharon shook hands with Abbas, he renouced negotations with fatah in world record time.

Saturday, January 28, 2006 3:09:00 am  

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