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Name: Antony Loewenstein
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Sunday, January 29, 2006

The truth lies behind

While some in the Australian mainstream media seem to naively believe that the Hamas win in the Palestinian elections was a great surprise - read Amira Hass to discover why so many Palestinians voted for the militants - veteran Israeli commentator Aluf Benn articulates an official, yet revealing, view:

"The Israelis warned the Americans that that unsupervised Arab democracy will bring the Muslim Brotherhood to power, not pro-Western liberals. But Washington refused to listen and insisted on holding the elections on schedule. The new reality requires both Washington and Jerusalem to re-evaluate the situation, before the Hamas effect hits Amman and Cairo. In any case, it will be hard to turn back democratic change and resume the comfortable relations with the old dictatorships.

"Israel will have to formulate a new foreign policy and strive for peace between nations, not merely with their rulers. And that will be much more complicated."

Putting aside the fact that the Americans and Israelis seem to believe they have right to "supervise" Arab democracy - Robert Fisk recently said that, "The Arab world, which is principally what we're talking about, would love some of this shiny beautiful democracy which we possess and enjoy. They would love some of it. They would like some freedom. But many of them would like freedom from us - from our armies, from our influence. And that's the problem, you see. What Arabs want is justice as much as democracy. They want freedom from us, in many cases. And they're not going to get that" - the rise of Hamas signals a radical shift in the Middle East conflict.

Although one Hamas official has already signalled that Islamic law would be a source for legislation in the occupied territories - Gideon Levy rightly says that a "secular, moderate and uncorrupt movement would have been preferable" - last week's election result certainly offers the Israelis and Americans a lesson: force will never work. The Israelis may have assassinated any number of Hamas "terrorists", and yet such moves only led to a stronger resistance movement.

Besides, Israel once funded and supported Hamas. Read this UPI report from 2002:

"Israel and Hamas may currently be locked in deadly combat, but, according to several current and former U.S. intelligence officials, beginning in the late 1970s, Tel Aviv gave direct and indirect financial aid to Hamas over a period of years.

"Israel ‘aided Hamas directly – the Israelis wanted to use it as a counterbalance to the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization),’ said Tony Cordesman, Middle East analyst for the Center for Strategic Studies.

"Israel's support for Hamas ‘was a direct attempt to divide and dilute support for a strong, secular PLO by using a competing religious alternative,’ said a former senior CIA official."

The future path of the Middle East peace process is certainly in question, but to suggest, as many Western commentators seem to believe, that the election of Hamas has ruined any chances of peace, conveniently forgets the fact that the PLO and Israel were not moving in that direction for years.

28 Comments:

Blogger weekbyweek said...

If (I repeat IF) Israel provided what amounted to as seed-funding to Hamas, could Hamas now not be accurately accused as being hypocrits and duplicitous, given their hatred of Israel?

Sunday, January 29, 2006 5:31:00 pm  
Blogger CraigS said...

last week's election result certainly offers the Israelis and Americans a lesson: force will never work.

Wouldn't Hamas conclude that force worked quite well..?

Sunday, January 29, 2006 7:06:00 pm  
Blogger Angela M said...

Antony,

As an anti-Zionist, do you support the part of the Hamas charter that calls for the elimination of the state of Israel?

Sunday, January 29, 2006 9:33:00 pm  
Blogger Progressive Atheist said...

The Israelis warned the Americans that that unsupervised Arab democracy will bring the Muslim Brotherhood to power, not pro-Western liberals.

I take this to mean that the Americans forgot to fix the elections, just as they did in Iraq.

I also find it interesting that Israel "used" Islamic fundamentalism to counter Palestinian secularism. This appears to be the strategy that America is currently using in Iraq. They have manipulated the Iraqi constitution so that it favours the Shiite fundamentalists there, at the expense of the secular Sunnis. Perhaps the Americans learned from their recent constitutional misadventure in Iraq and tried to favour the more secular but corrupt Fatah in Palestine.

We can only hope that the sudden transition to government will change the outlook of Hamas. Time will tell.

Sunday, January 29, 2006 9:48:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

I most certainly do not support the eradication of Israel. The Hamas charter is worrying in many ways.
I support, ideally, a bi-national state with all peoples living together. In the interim, a two-state solution is the best option, but until the Zionists learn that expansion and oppression is completely contradictory to a free and open Palestine, we have a serious problem.

Sunday, January 29, 2006 10:24:00 pm  
Blogger James Waterton said...

"I most certainly do not support the eradication of Israel."

"I support, ideally, a bi-national state with all peoples living together."

So in practice - "ideally" - you support the eradication of Israel. Do you honestly think that the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza would live with the current day Israeli jews in a country that incorporated Israel and Palestine called Israel?

Sunday, January 29, 2006 10:51:00 pm  
Blogger Angela M said...

Excuse the confusion, but if a bi-national state were to replace Israel, wouldn't Israel effectively be eradicated? Or have I misunderstood?

As for a bi-national state, Jews would be a minority - I'm not sure if it would be now or some time soon. Historically, Jews living under Shari'a law have been considered dhimmis, or second-class citizens, and don't have the same rights as Muslims - this is written in the Qur'an. I'd be interested to know how a workable bi-national state could happen. Your thoughts on this?

I'd also be interested to hear what in particular worries you about the Hamas charter.

Sunday, January 29, 2006 10:56:00 pm  
Blogger Melanie said...

73% of Palestinians vote for a party whose charter calls to kill Jews, and you support a bi-national state.
Antony, do you honestly believe that a bi-national state is realistic?
When most Jews don't want it and most Palestinians don't want it (unless it is Jewless), why do you feel you know what's best.

Sunday, January 29, 2006 11:42:00 pm  
Blogger David Heidelberg said...

You really all miss the point. The increased vote for Hamas wasn't for the 'eliminate Israel' charter - It was because Fatah was notoriously corrupt, and Hamas' charity arm provided food, medicine and shelter, whilst Fatah members drove around in new Audis.

Certainly not defending Hamas, merely pointing out the reasons for the result.

Monday, January 30, 2006 12:39:00 am  
Blogger Edward Mariyani-Squire said...

A.L. said...
"I most certainly do not support the eradication of Israel." "I support, ideally, a bi-national state with all peoples living together."

James Waterton said...
"So in practice - "ideally" - you support the eradication of Israel."

It depends what you mean by Israel. According to some (and A.L. seems to fall into this category), in the ideal case, Israel can still be Israel without it being a race-based or religion-based state. The theologian and Zionist Martin Buber argued on the other hand, that on his definition of "Israel" (which, contrary to the secular view, was partly religious in nature), Israel does not currently exist; it will only come into existence when Palestinians are treated as equals, irrespective of the demographics.

"Do you honestly think that the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza would live with the current day Israeli jews in a country that incorporated Israel and Palestine called Israel?"

Since you are now in fact leaving aside the ideal case, so one should not attempt to slide this together with real politik of this moment in time.

Now, would the Occupied Palestinians want to live side by side as equals with Israeli Jews in a Greater Israel? The option is not on the table, and I don't think anyone has ever asked the Occupied Palestinians the question (in part, I suspect, because nobody really cares what they think), but for argument's sake, let's say they would definitely not at this very moment in time. That is hardly an argument for the status quo. That argument could have been - and indeed was - used in South Africa as a means of maintaining the apartheid regime: 'yes, yes, we want justice for the blacks, but because of their justifiable hatred of the whites, they will massacre them, so to avoid that we must maintain the current power-structure.' And there was a skerrick of truth to that in the heat of any particular moment, but to universalise present hatred (on all sides) not only serves vested interests in the long-run, but is built on a lie (as South Africa shows, as the aftermath of Rwanda shows, and as East Timor now shows).

Now, that answer assumes you are talking about the issue of co-habitation. If all you were referring to was the label of the country, then who knows? - and frankly, this is fairly minor when put up against the issue of prolonged human suffering and injustice.

Monday, January 30, 2006 12:51:00 am  
Blogger Wombat said...

Progressive Atheist said...

"I take this to mean that the Americans forgot to fix the elections, just as they did in Iraq."

You back to many horses and sooner or later, it will catch up on you. The US indirectly supported Hammas when Israel did, via Saudi Arabia, in the 70's and 80's.

"I also find it interesting that Israel "used" Islamic fundamentalism to counter Palestinian secularism."

Or hwo the US used to fund the mujahadeen in Afghanistan against the Societs.

"Perhaps the Americans learned from their recent constitutional misadventure in Iraq and tried to favour the more secular but corrupt Fatah in Palestine."

The US just doesn't seem to learn it's lesson of blowback.

Monday, January 30, 2006 12:53:00 am  
Blogger psydoc said...

Ant, your silence speaks volumes. You can sling shit endlessly, but lack the real courage of a professional journalist to set the record straight.

Monday, January 30, 2006 6:38:00 am  
Blogger Wombat said...

Psydoc,

Your comment is typical of right wing posters who demand that Al march to the beat of their drum and deem is as cowardice when they aren't immediately attended to.

Could it be that right wing ideology appeals to those with an unjustifiably inflated sense of self importance?

Monday, January 30, 2006 9:50:00 am  
Blogger Wombat said...

BTW Psydoc,

What is it you are demanding of AL, to set the record straight?

Monday, January 30, 2006 9:52:00 am  
Blogger orang said...

This rubbish thrown about by the Zionist fan club (Motto: Say it often and say it loud and they will believe) is getting a new lease of life with the Hamas election. Whatever their charter supposedly says, they are also on record as saying things like; (sourced from Wikipedia)

"Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin stated that the group could accept a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip."....

"On March 22, 2004, Yassin - now an old man, restricted to a wheel-chair due to his life-long paralysis - was assassinated in an Israeli missile strike. "

(Now why would he be assassinated when he's making peace-like statements? - beats me)


"On January 26, 2004, senior Hamas official Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi offered a 10-year truce, or hudna, in return for a complete withdrawal by Israel from the territories captured in the Six Day War, and the establishment of a Palestinian state."
.....
"On April 17, 2004, Rantissi was also assassinated in an airstrike by the Israel Defense Forces,.. "


I guess we ran out of partners for peace eh?

Monday, January 30, 2006 11:46:00 am  
Blogger smiths said...

absolutely spot on orang, those assassinations dont make sense unless israels interest was in the continuation of hostilities and demonization of the palestinians,
they love the chaos as long as they hold the reins,
and iraq is a good parralell,
the looting at the beginning was forseen and allowed to occur, the message was approved lawlessness,
the ransacking of iraqi culture was allowed, increase frustration and hopelessness,
the violence of one muslim against another incited,
just what were those two SAS men doing dressed as arabs with a car load of bombs,
divide and conquer

Monday, January 30, 2006 12:59:00 pm  
Blogger Wombat said...

Smiths

"just what were those two SAS men doing dressed as arabs with a car load of bombs, divide and conquer"

A very pertinent question. Relations between Basra and the UK miltary have never recovered since that episode and certainyl cast some serious quesrions as to how much of the violence attributed the the Iraqi insurgents agsint their own is not the work of such clandetine activity.

Monday, January 30, 2006 2:03:00 pm  
Blogger David Heidelberg said...

Well Captain (psydoc) - I noticed your comments at tim blair's, bragging about your trolling behaviour here.

It's interesting that you demand Antony's immediate response. I say this, because as a blair sycophant, you seem to forget that blair not only does not participate in discussions with his contributors, as Antony often does, but also refuses to allow dissenting comments on his site.

Monday, January 30, 2006 4:30:00 pm  
Blogger Viva Peace said...

antony

I am confused by what people mean by a "bi-national secular state." Maybe I am being naive but surely "state" and "bi-national" are contradictory?

Also what do people mean by a "secular" state. I have started reading Noam Chomsky and he often talks about a "bi-national secular state." What does this mean? How is it different from the current situation?

Monday, January 30, 2006 6:21:00 pm  
Blogger orang said...

David Heidelberg said...
"Well Captain (psydoc) - I noticed your comments at tim blair's, bragging about your trolling behaviour here."

You mean he's a SPtBYRD?
(Small Penis tim Blair Yapping Running Dog)

Only at Blair's would he be able to brag.

Monday, January 30, 2006 8:19:00 pm  
Blogger Angela M said...

Antony,
What's your take on why the Third Way - the party of Salman Fayyad and Hanan Ashrawi which campaigned on an anti-corruption platform, but one which does NOT advocate the destruction of the State of Israel - only got 2 of 130 seats, compared to Hamas's 76?

Monday, January 30, 2006 10:14:00 pm  
Blogger James Waterton said...

'yes, yes, we want justice for the blacks, but because of their justifiable hatred of the whites, they will massacre them, so to avoid that we must maintain the current power-structure.'

Who was making that argument? I doubt the Afrikaaners in power were. Anyway, sure, nothing is static. However some problems are more intractable than others, and we're talking about some rather insurmountable cultural differences that, in my analysis, are unlikely to erode with time. Due to the cultural traits of many Muslim Palestinians, I strongly doubt they will ever agree to live in an entity called Israel, even if relations between Palestinians and Israelis improves and even if they're guaranteed equal rights. In my estimation, a two state solution is the only acceptable outcome for both sides now and into the future.

Thus, I think it's extremely difficult to say "I support the continued existence of Israel and I support a one state solution." Keeping those two balls in the air isn't possible now and in the future, by my reckoning. You may not agree, but there you go. Anyway, that was the topic at hand, and that's what I was commenting on. Perceived injustices etc I wasn't.

Monday, January 30, 2006 11:52:00 pm  
Blogger Wombat said...

"Only at Blair's would he be able to brag."

I wonder if we took a poll how many Tim Blariistes would say they believed Iran had nukes. Psydoc seems to think it's a given.

Once again, ideology trumps logic, reason and evidence.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006 1:57:00 am  
Blogger psydoc said...

David, Adamm01 and Orang, there is a very real reason that the record needs to be set straight. It is because Ant is actually part of the story. He has nothing to add to the middle east debate other than his empty polemics. Why should his views be preferred over others? Does he actually have any qualifications? Does he only selectively present material here? Who does he actually represent? Real journalists would answer such questions.

It must be very comforting for Ant that the most erudite response in his defense comes from a sycopANT who needs to refer to my penis size.

He does have a case to answer just as he puts those under close scrutiny whom he believes to act unethically.

The Macquarie University episode is an indictment on tertiary education.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006 6:17:00 am  
Blogger Wombat said...

I love this one:

"Real journalists would answer such questions."

What real journaalist are you referring to Psydoc? Tim Blair? What journalists have come clean about their own complicity in selling the war to the public, and continuing to give free passes to governments who lie repeartedly and get away with their authority unblemished?

Who are these jouiranlists that don't repeat government BS as if it were fact. Do tell.

You continue to maintain that AL owes somethign to you and the public, without ever explaining what that means. It's a shame you don't hold those with real power to the same accountability.

You really are a hypocrite Psydoc.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006 9:55:00 am  
Blogger psydoc said...

I am sorry, I don't know what a "jouiranlists" is.

Journalists however usually make others the subject of their enquiry. Not so with Ant and hence the onus on him to come clean.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006 11:11:00 am  
Blogger Wombat said...

I take that as an admission that you are at a loss for an example of the lofty expectations you have laid out for AL.

"Journalists however usually make others the subject of their enquiry."

Which journalists are you referring to? Go on. Don't be scared.

Now if you will only come clean with an explanation as to what it is you want AL to come clean about.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006 12:34:00 pm  
Blogger Progressive Atheist said...

Why should his views be preferred over others?

Postmodern relativism!

Tuesday, January 31, 2006 1:19:00 pm  

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