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Saturday, February 04, 2006

Collective action required

Leading Jewish dissenter Shraga Elam argues that the Hamas win in the Palestinian elections will in fact worsen the situation for Palestinians:

"The sweeping electoral victory of Hamas is primarily a triumph for the Israeli government and a big defeat for Palestinian interests. The international pressure on the Palestinians is growing. If Hamas will not make substantial and painful concessions it risks a massive cut in the financial international support and further escalation in the Israeli anti-Palestinian measures.

"If Hamas commits to such concessions, it will not only betray its voters, but the Israeli government will demand more. Now, for example, Israel demands that Hamas recognize Israel and declare and end to armed struggle before substantial economic aid will be rendered. If Hamas fulfils these conditions, it will be confronted with others like the impossible demand to renounce the Right of Return for the Palestinian refugees.

"Even if Hamas does comply, the Israeli government will claim that Hamas is not to be trusted as it is a terror organization swallowing chalk but still remaining a wolf. Besides, Hamas will then have problems controlling Palestinian militants and chaos will break out.

"The Palestinian political leverage against the Israeli government is now even smaller than what the Fatah-led PA had, and this leverage was for sure not very extensive.

"This is a direct result of the fact that the Israeli government holds the Palestinians as hostages and can use the latter’s economical and military vulnerability as a deadly means of pressure."

Elam rightly slams suicide bombings as a "military, economic and political disaster for the Palestinians." His solution to the conflict is "new methods of effective non-violent struggle against the occupation, and deepening cooperation with the Israeli peace movements. This is the time to create ANC-like common movements that will address issues like racism or oppression. Like the people of South Africa, it has to be realized that a separatist nationalism means catastrophe and therefore has to be abandoned. The vision of one secular and democratic state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea is the only viable and desirable alternative to the existing state of apartheid and to further terrible escalation."

His bi-national state solution is perhaps the best long-term answer. In the meantime, however, I still believe - and polls confirm - that a majority of Palestinians and Israelis want two-states, side-by-side. It is this, therefore, that activists should be working towards at present.


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