The Shotgun Blog
Thursday, January 26, 2006
Dark Days or Much Needed Light Shed on the Situation?
Hamas has won a clear victory in the Palestinian elections:
Hours after unofficial results indicated Hamas' clear victory in the Palestinian elections, Hamas supporters poured into the Palestinian parliament amid clashes with Fatah loyalists.
The Hamas supporters then raised the Hamas flag over the building.
My initial reaction is horror. And yes, it's horrifying. However, since democratic elections let us know what the people want, it is now clear what the majority of Palestinians want. So I hope Israel keeps that barrier up, and maybe makes it longer. And I hope the rest of the world gets a clue (but I won't hold my breath).
This should make the Israeli elections even more interesting and vital -- for voters, candidates and those of us watching.
Cross-posted at Wonkitties.
TrackBack URL for this entry:
Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Dark Days or Much Needed Light Shed on the Situation?:
A useful analysis, "Hamas Without Veils":
Posted by: Mark Collins | 2006-01-26 3:21:51 PM
To my understanding, the Hamas vote was a rejection of the long-standing corruption of Arafat's Fatah party - an extreme corruption about which we have all heard for many years. I think it is a mistake to conclude that it is also a vote against Israel.
I'll even bet that Hamas will work with Israel towards a two-state solution, as long as Israel does the same, i.e., moves itself and its settlers out of the West Bank.
I don't see any other option; Hamas can't work to the benefit of its people if it subjected them only to more attacks and occuption. Therefore, it has to work, via negotiations, towards establishing the Palestinian state.
Posted by: ET | 2006-01-26 3:25:09 PM
ET (an appropriate nick yes?)
What is the color of the sky on your planet?
Posted by: ET | 2006-01-26 3:34:41 PM
Isn't the Hamas victory, a victory for a "forward Strategy of Freedom"?
"During this time of change in world history, the President said that the advance of freedom is the calling of our times. Promoting democracy and freedom in the Middle East will be a massive and difficult undertaking, but it is worthy of America's effort and sacrifice. As long as freedom and democracy do not flourish in the Middle East, that region will remain stagnant, resentful, and violent -- and serve as an exporter of violence and terror to free nations."
Posted by: DJ | 2006-01-26 3:41:26 PM
In reply to jcmin, in Calgary, who is trying to confuse people by using my initials of ET to sign his own post - I stand by my analysis.
The election was democratic and the West has to acknowledge democracy. And, it has to acknowledge that in large part, the vote was a vote against corruption.
Then, one has to consider that a governing party cannot operate in the same manner as a marginal militant group with only one focus, and only one agenda. The two are not identical. As a governing party, Hamas is now accountable to the Palestinians for their economic well-being. That is an enormous task and has nothing to do with that Hamas one-agenda of militancy.
I'll still predict that Hamas, which now has the responsibility of the daily welfare of Palestinians, cannot operate in its old terrorist mode. it must consider economic well-being, it must consider health, education, trade, and so on. It's a different world than the one-agenda of militancy against occupation.
Posted by: ET | 2006-01-26 3:43:12 PM
ET; my apologies. I didn't want to steal your nick (Preview before post yes?).
IMHO while you have made a cogent point based on what a rational person (or persons) would do, it is not clear at all that the personages that make up Hamas are entirely rational.
Indeed, infused with religous fervour and backed no doubt by promises from Iran and Syria, it is entirely likely that they will be wildly overconfident of their abilities and become openly hostile.
This of course would be a good thing because then they can and will be destroyed.
Israel is already vilified widely, so I don't think the spectre of vilification is much of a restraint. In fact, international law would be on the side of Israel.
To the premise of the original posting, dark days are ahead, but with clarity shed on the situation.
Posted by: Artemis | 2006-01-26 3:52:11 PM
In reply to Artemis - I still think that dark days are NOT ahead.
First- the corruption of the Fatah party had to be dealt with, and it wasn't able to do it, itself, despite all its best intentions.
Second, I think that despite all the fervour and Band of Terrorist Brotherhood, no government in the ME could attack Israel and emerge, as an intact nation. I'm saying they won't do it; as Mark Collin's post, with its attachment notes, it's far easier to operate on the emotional highs of a marginal group, rabid, violent..than to operate as a government with a population in the millions who depend on you, not for suicide attacks, but for their daily health and welfare.
So-Iran can try to incite the US/Israel to attack it..and thus try to stave off any desires for democracy in its people, but, they won't actually themselves attack Israel. And, Hamas now has to be responsible for water, food, trade, industry, jobs...etc, etc..and the luxury of only carrying out suicide attacks - is not an option.
So- I still say that democracy in the Middle East is exactly the right path; that Bush is right on that perspective; and that - it will happen. They have no choice; an industrial society has to be democratic.
Posted by: ET | 2006-01-26 3:59:58 PM
If such is the case, that, in fact this is victory against corruption, then why the message from the State Department:
"The United States pressured Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to exclude Hamas from his Cabinet despite signs the militant group made a strong showing in a parliamentary election on Wednesday.
The United States, which encouraged Palestinians to hold the election and pressed Israel to allow the vote as part of its drive to promote democracy in the Middle East, said it will accept the results as a reflection of the will of the people.
But it also made clear Abbas should keep Hamas in opposition. The group is sworn to Israel’s destruction and is considered a terrorist organization by Washington.
“In terms of who is seated in the Palestinian legislative council, that will be based on these elections,” State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters. But the choice of a Cabinet and its policies is a matter for the Palestinian officials, he said."
Democracy if necessary, but not necessarily democracy.
Posted by: DJ | 2006-01-26 4:04:53 PM
ET; Democracy in the ME is the right path; but I disagree that they have "no choice". They have many choices and many of them will lead to chaos and destruction and only a few to progress as we would see it.
The history of the ME is full of bad choices, religous fervour and incompetence
In a rational world with our Western world view you are right. But here we disagree.
The world-view of the palestinian is as different from ours as night is from day and it is IMHO dangerous to ascribe our perspective to theirs.
LGF also has a thread going on this very issue.
Posted by: Artemis | 2006-01-26 4:10:37 PM
I don't have a lot of time to read all of the comemnts, so maybe I'm misunderstanding your point. The US has said it will not deal with Hamas (whether it holds power or not) until it renounces its policy to 'wipe Israel from the map' and to stop its attacks.
From what I understand, if it did that, then the US would recognize its role (similar to the IRA in the past).
Ed the Hun
Posted by: EdtheHun | 2006-01-26 4:26:39 PM
DJ - I didn't say the election was a victory against corruption; I said it was an election against corruption, the corruption of the Fatah party.
And, a party that is elected to govern does not have the luxury of involving its people in a suicidal war; that is the option only of a marginal group operating as an emotive single-issue group. A party that governs has to provide its people - and the majority want a peaceful life - with the everyday necessities of that life.
I disagree that the Palestinian worldview is that different from ours; yes, they are tribal and kin-based, but, they still want, for the most part, peace in their lives. It is only a marginal set that remains attracted to the emotive highs of violence and 'death for the cause'.
I don't think that Hamas has any choice other than to govern by providing its people with the necessities of life; it has to abandon the luxury of violence.
Posted by: ET | 2006-01-26 4:30:35 PM
ET; time will tell. It was said of Arafat that he never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity and I am afraid that Hamas will carry on this tradition.
It is also hard to believe that "for the most part they want peace in their lives". From the moment of birth, the PA has indulged in an education and agitprop campaign to convince the population that Israel is the enemy and it must be destroyed. Hamas is one of the children of this unrelenting propaganda campaign. In the schools, on the radio and on TV, the Pals have had an steady diet of hate and vilification.
These are now people who fervently believe in the cause and are ready to die for it. This is not a marginal set. I would suspect that the maraginal set would be those who would like peace and who are prepared to live side by side with Israel.
If Hamas moves quickly to stop the campaign of hate then you will have been proved to be right.
However, as I said before, it is dangerous for us to assume this will happen.
Posted by: Artemis | 2006-01-26 4:39:33 PM
Palestinians are not a nation but people who were transplanted there by Ottomans than UK took over after the Turks. So I wonder if they can achieve any kind of democracy.
There are causes for corruption. Those people have a gangster mentality and are fanatics. If they were nor brought under Koran thinking, there could be a chance of assuming responsibility.
I have kind of a feeling they will make believe they want peace. But knowing their advisors(Iran, Syria), it would be only to gain time in order to wage war on Israel. These people are hypocrites: they think and say one thing and they do another.
Posted by: Rémi houle | 2006-01-26 4:50:49 PM
Forget any progress towards peace coming from this!
This is a bunch of younger thugs replacing a bunch of tired old thugs.
All the same background and all the same motivation.
Well maybe this generation is more solidly indoctrinated in hate!
These people have very clear vision. That being that Israel has to go no matter what and anyone who gets in the way is going to get some too!
Only question you need to ask is "What am I going to do about it?"
Posted by: PGP | 2006-01-26 5:21:08 PM
Hamas are known as having only one, militant. agenda...to us. In Palestine, they are also known for helping out the people with social services. That likely accounts for some of their success. Nothing's simple.
Posted by: lwestin | 2006-01-26 5:30:34 PM
I agree, but the US (and now Canada) won't recognize their legitimacy until Hamas renounces violence and the 'destruction' of Israel.
Hamas had better hope that the US doesn't stop sending them money, since it will pretty hard to support a socialist program without American $ to pay.
Ed the Hun
Posted by: EdtheHun | 2006-01-26 5:37:47 PM
"So- I still say that democracy in the Middle East is exactly the right path; that Bush is right on that perspective; and that - it will happen. They have no choice; an industrial society has to be democratic."
No? What about the hopeless suicide march they've been on for the last 60 years? Seems to me they've consistently made the choice to take that road. Oh wait; it's the settlements, stupid. Right. Except Israel offered on more than one occasion over the last decade to ship out of at least part of them (80% and half of Jerusalem in the camp David offer) and they were answered with an Intifada.
Sharon, after a hard-line career, finally went dove like most of his predecessors and began to work with post-Arafat Fatah, to start abandoning settlements, in Gaza, at least. And Palestinians answer how? To build from that, even if it wasn’t perfect? No, to go back to the starting line and bet on a horse that has NEVER wavered, even a bit, from its mandate to annihilate Israel. Yup, sounds like they have no choice but peace from here on in. It's curious to me that whenever the Palestinians are faced with a real chance for peace (Oslo, camp David, Gaza), they do everything they can to turn around and start all over.
But we all know it’s far from a coincidence. My heart truly goes out to the Palestinians, but until they realize they are pawns- not israel’s – but Iran, Syria’s and Arabia’s, who use them to deflect attention off of their own despotic theocracies- they will never have peace.
Posted by: Stopthetrain | 2006-01-26 7:17:12 PM
"Hamas are known as having only one, militant. agenda...to us. In Palestine, they are also known for helping out the people with social services. That likely accounts for some of their success. Nothing's simple."
Please, apologists have been pointing out similar 'nuances' on behalf of Mussolini, stalin, castro etc. for decades. They are all monsters. I don't give a F-- how many roads and bridges they paved; schools they built for indoctrination; free bread they asked people to line up for. They, and Hamas can burn. There are better saviours.
Posted by: Stopthetrain | 2006-01-26 7:25:37 PM
Democracy may be the best form of government we know, but democracy remains only a tool. In itself, it can never make a people or culture civilized to the extent that they value life and the rule of law. In order for it to work in the middle east, there would have to be a total change of culture. These are the people who celebrate death not life. Furthermore we forget that democracy is not compatible with Islam according to the Muslims themeselves.
If the Arabs (there is no such thing as palestian)ever decide to transform their societies and bring them into this century, then there can be a chance for peace.
Posted by: Alain | 2006-01-26 11:38:09 PM
There never was a peace movement from the Arabs. They were being disengenous and negotiating in bad faith.
This election is good news. It clarifies the Arab position in such a way as to make France and Germany's morally relativistic posturing impossible.
Now it is impossible to spout that cycle of violence crap. We know that one side wants peace and the Arabs want to kill every jew in Isreal and drive them into the sea. They've wanted that since the beginning and their goals have never waivered. It's time the Eurotrash accepted that their friends are terrorists and acted accordingly. No more pretend peace treaties and games.
Posted by: Warwick | 2006-01-27 8:08:07 AM
Any thought of peace in the region w/o a fundamental re-education of the Palestinian public from Kindergarten on up is absurd. Given the wholesale indoctrination of venomous hatred towards not only the Zionist State but towards the Jewish People that these people are subjected to from infancy, there has, in fact, never been a real "Peace Process". I would rather refer to it (as Shimon Peres pronounces it in his heavy European accent) as having been a "Piss Process" whereby the Palestinian leadership has consistently pissed away opportunities for peace, and, in recent years, Israel has engaged in pissing away the security of its people. The recent election results have chillingly exposed the utter futility of the dialogue imposed upon Israel over the years by both outsiders and insiders. As to the charitable works attributed to Hamas - does any clear headed, unbiased person really believe they are anything more than a means of subjugating the Palestinian people to the essential Hamas cause of the eradication of the Jewish State ?
Posted by: HARRY | 2006-01-27 8:22:08 AM
The only good thing is that Hamas hides nothing. Their intent towards Israel is completely evil and they are proud to put that forward, to this very second of this very day.
Thinking that further empowering Hamas will moderate them is truly hysterical! Too sad to be funny. Without a basis in truth or reality from any point in history to again, this very second.
To be clear, the ideological cousins of Hamas, the Baathists, the PLO, and Arabic iSLAM in general are the Nazis. Stating a policy of a Judenrien Middle East, which the ?alestinians do, as evidenced by the profound lack of a geopolitical entity called Israel on any map (past or projected) is as Nazi as the Nazis got.
Hamas must be destroyed now.
Posted by: wharold | 2006-01-27 1:06:00 PM
"Any thought of peace in the region w/o a fundamental re-education of the Palestinian public from Kindergarten on up is absurd."
Exactly. And this area is where I must lay some blame on the west, and with the U.S. in particular. We know that UN and NGOs running around Palestine turn a blind eye, and in some cases, actively participate in the indoctrination of school children into the spiraled death cult, so it's not like I expct anything out of them.
But in fairness, the U.S. as Israel's only real ally, has failed in this respect. Any talk of peace over the last two decades should have been contingent, not just on the principal that the Palestinians put down their AK47s and explosive belts (which they never did), but that the authority also stop this intellectual rape of children. You can't have one without the other.
Posted by: Stopthetrain | 2006-01-27 1:30:33 PM
I will probably be alone in my perspective, but I think that the Hamas win is a step in the right direction for both a two-state solution and peace.
I'm ignoring the rhetoric because I consider it rhetoric. Remember the Liberal rhetoric about Harper and the CPC government, which asserted that IF the CP wins, THEN, our soldiers will die in Iran, mothers will be unable to abort their children (?!), the earth will collapse in pollution and Canada will dissolve into...
I'll ignore the Israeli settler's rhetoric also, which asserts that the entire land in that area is theirs because 'God said so'.
I reject the assertion that 'There cannot be a Palestinian state because there are no such people as Palestinians'. That's trivial; at one time, there were no such people as Canadians and there is now, a Canadian state. Ditto for all the other nation-states in the world.
My point is that what we are now seeing, is that a militant group is now being established as a governing group. I think that it is a grave error to assume that a militant group is equivalent to a governing group - as many of you are doing. The two modes of reality are not the same.
As a brief note- Fatah was also at one time a militant group; it has been unable to govern, however, because its infrastructure is completely corrupt. The vote - and it was a democratic vote and has to be recognized as such - was against this useless Fatah government, which has achieved NOTHING since its inception, other than the corrupt wealth of its leaders. I think the Palestinians were correct to kick them out.
Now - Hamas. Again, a militant group is not and cannot act the same way, if it is to be a governing group. A militant group has the luxury of absolutely no responsibility for the well-being of the population. It has nothing to do with water, food, roads, employment, health, interactions with other countries, interactions with Israel. Nothing. It has only ONE agenda - which is a guerrilla warfare. That's it. Its ideology will be simple- kill the Others and get rid of them. Rather similar to the Settlers.
But - as a governing group, its focus is NOT on Israel, but on the Palestinians - who require water, food, housing, hospitals, employment..and links to other nations. And - none of this will be accomplished if they continue to act only as a militant group. Therefore - they have to face reality. And so does Israel. Israel exists and is not going to disappear. Equally, Palestine exists and is not going to disappear.
Therefore - I consider that the enforced switch of the militant Hamas to a governing Hamas will force them to drop the violence and antagonism and establish the Palestinian state.
I think that the world reaction, including that of Israel and the US (Bush) is correct; they are effectively saying - "It's a democratic election and Hamas won; we acknowledge that, BUT, we will not deal with you if you act in a state of war. We will only deal with you if you abandon your old identity of violence - and move into a new identity of governing a country and people'. This clear statement by the West - is a step in moving Hamas along the path from a militant to a governing group. ....and effectively ending its era as that former group.
I think that nothing would have been changed, without moving Hamas from that militant state to a governing state. So far - Fatah had, even with Abbas, achieved nothing. AND, what existed with Fatah - was a corrupt and weak government, aligned with a Hamas that was focused only on militant violence! Now- what I see happening, is that Fatah has been removed from the picture, and Hamas is being forced into a situation where it has to govern - and that governance cannot include (as the West has made clear) militancy.
So- I think it's a step towards the two-state era and peace.
Posted by: ET | 2006-01-27 1:32:04 PM
"militant group?" Do you work for the Star or the BBC?
"I'm ignoring the rhetoric because I consider it rhetoric. Remember the Liberal rhetoric about Harper and the CPC government, which asserted that IF the CP wins .." Wow, comparing the talking points of terrorists with Canadian politicians, even if they are Liberals. Nice work. One big Diff: Hamas actually backs up what they say. Or are babies’ limbs strewn across the street as a result of a nail-filled pipe bombs not enough ‘rhetoric’ for you? I’m no fan of the settlers, but they don’t travel over to the other side and start mowing people down. Furthermore, they don't make up the Israeli gov't.
BTW, Osama’s rhetoric was dismissed for the better part of the 90s – even though he did bomb a few embassies and a US Destroyer. Then Sept 11 happened. More rhetoric, I guess. You want to give Hamas the benefit of the doubt? Fine. I just wish you’d wait at least until they agree to strike phrases like the following from their charter:
From article 7 :
”The Islamic Resistance Movement aspires to implement Allah's promise, whatever time that may take. The Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him salvation, has said: "The Day of Judgment will not come about until the Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them), until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: Oh Muslim! Oh Abdullah!, there is a Jew behind me, come on and kill him. Only the Gharqad tree would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews."
Sorry, more rhetoric. Good thing Hamas hasn’t actually acted on any of this stuff., eh?
So wouldn’t it be a relatively simple gesture to denounce this? Wouldn’t that be the most basic of starts to signify that the world can in fact work with Hamas, as you claim is possible? What does it say about whom we’re dealing with when they can’t even offer rhetoric about denouncing their “rhetoric.”
You try to justify your optimism by hinting that Hamas is a better option for Palestinians than the crooked Fatah party. Hey, being Canadian, I have no tolerance for thieves in the legislature. But how interesting, that you don’t find that a group of sociopathic thugs have the stomach to blow up women at bus stops, but stuffing their own pockets is a no-no? That aside, why are the two only options so absolute with you? Hey, here’s an idea. Why not treat this peace thing a little more seriously, and create a party that is actually interested in dealing with Israel and fully committed in writing, both English and Arabic in a two state solution? Ya think?
You go on to suggest that Hamas will be thrown into the peace process whether they like it or not, because governing is tougher sledding than just murdering innocents (oops, sorry, I meant guerilla warfare). I assume you’re aware that Hamas and Hezbolla both have “humanitarian” wings where they are involved in such things as “water, food, roads, employment, health.” But guess what? They still find the time to blow themselves up for Allah too. I don’t think there'll be any problems in continuing the balancing act -- All in a days work. Arafat and his cronies got rich off that game. And what happens if they don’t deliver on the humanitarian front? Will the Palestinians rise up and overthrow them. Well, they didn’t have the balls to do it to Arafat, and I don’t think Hamas is simply going to pack up and go home if they can’t deliver.
I could go on, but I’m tired, and I haven’t seen my wife naked in a week. So, I’ll ask you one last question. What exactly has Hamas shown you; what have they done to somehow convince who I think is a pretty intelligent person on so many other issues, that all the machine guns, the flag burring, the pledges to continue the jihad and suicide bombing campaign is only rhetoric? I’m not asking why you agree with whatever media pundit who says Hamas is the right agent for peace, I’m asking what convinced you that we’d be wrong to simply take them at their word?
Like I said, you’re someone to be respected around here. And you’re one of the few posters who I don’t gloss over. But on this issue, it’s clear you don’t have as firm a sense of history -- the moral relativism you apply to the conflict is also misguided (and quite frankly, a liberal device)-- as you should.
Posted by: Stopthetrain | 2006-01-27 9:30:59 PM
In reply to Stopthetrain, I stand by my analysis. I am most certainly not a moral relativist and always critique such an illogical and basically amoral perspective. But, I am a pragmatist.
Essentially, what you have at the base of the situation in Israel-Palestine, is two opposite world views. Israel, for almost a generation, has not recognized a 'Palestinian State'. Its view of the Palestinians was that they were, in reality, Jordanians, and ought to be moved into and completely absorbed by Jordan. Jordan rejected this view. Israel also rejected the right of Palestinians to the land, stating that it was, in total, including the West Bank and Gaza, all their land, because 'God gave it' to them.
You have a completely similar perspective on the Palestinian side. Just change the nouns. They too refused to recognize a state, in this case, an Israeli one, and they too, concluded that all Israelis should be 'pushed out'. In this case, the push was to the sea rather than Jordan. And they too considered that the land was all theirs - and for the same reason - 'God'.
Given this 'bottom line view' - completely beyond any reasoning or empirical capacity to deal with - what is the result? There can be only one result. 'Might' wins the debate. Therefore, Israel, with its military and economic power, occupied the lands originally set aside after the war for a Palestinian state.
A generation of occupation, with its economic degradation and poverty, its political emptiness, and the agenda of the far right party in Israel to attain all the land and which has always rejected a Palestinian state (and which has maintained a strong control of political intention in Israel) cannot be met with passive acceptance. So, a resistance develops, a 'people's army' of stones and home-made bombs and then, suicide bombs.
The entrenched ideologies of both sides (no Palestinian state; no Israeli state) become entrenched..but..slowly...pragmatism sets in, and people on both sides start to accept the only solution - a two-state reality. But, how does one move out of a generation of rejection of such a reality? During that generation, both sides have educated their youth in hostilities to the other side. During that generation Israel has instead of occupying the Palestinian land, it has settled it - illegally. So?
And, during that generation, the Palestinian political scene, a political-infrastructure-without-a-state to govern, moved (like the UN) into corruption.
And, during that generation, a non-political group, Hamas, developed, focusing on only one agenda - resistance and aggression against the occupation.
Then, as I said, the majority of the population on both sides began to realize that the scenario of One Or The Other survives - wouldn't work. It simply wasn't going to happen. Neither the Palestinians nor the Israelis were going to disappear - into Jordan or the sea or anywhere else. The two state solution was the only answer.
The next steps are difficult. You have, on both sides, militants and hard-liners, which have to move to a peripheral role (they'll never disappear totally, on either side). And, you have the settlements in the occupied land. Very difficult.
The US steps in with its 'road-map', which is meant to focus attention and provide a template for the future. Neither side is going to, after a generation, accept it immediately, for that would be politically disastrous after a generation of rejection of the two-state solution. But, they start to work towards it.
Sharon takes his 'out of Gaza' step - the easy first step, because Gaza is, economically, almost unviable. With Arafat gone, (and his commitment to no solution), the Fatah party can begin to work towards a two-state solution, but, its infrastructure is so corrupt, that it can achieve little. And - Hamas remains, unfettered and free, as the Voice of Freedom.
As I said, Hamas, as a non-political group, with only one agenda, war, is free; it has no obligations other than to make war. Can you operate a country with one set of your population geared to only one agenda - war against the neighbour? A permanent vigilante group of militants? No. Fatah couldn't control Hamas.
Then, Hamas, for some reason, moved from the militant actions to the political. That's quite stunning in itself. A group whose only agenda is to fight the enemy - moves into politics????
It won the election, and I maintain that it won because the Palestinians are not only tired of the singular focus of the Fatah party (enriching its own corrupt members) but want an end to the occupation, an end to the fighting, an end to the endless war. Moving Hamas into the political infrastructure was, I maintain, the right thing. It moves that group out of the militant and into the political - and politicians must talk, they must negotiate and they must be responsible to the needs of the people.
What are the needs of the people? The same as elsewhere. Food, water, shelter, health, education, jobs...None of this is obtainable without an economy, and an economy rests on a state, on property. Therefore, Hamas must govern, with a focus on these needs, and a focus on establishing the state of Palestine - peacefully.
The US and the West moved quickly and correctly, in informing Hamas that they were now a political group. Not a militant group - and therefore, their agenda had to change from their former 'Down with Israel' to a two-state reality.
Imagine what it would have been like if the far right in Israel, committed to the entire land, and to no Palestine and all Palestinians moved to Jordan - imagine what it would be like if these and the settlers, who can be very violent, had become the government of Israel. It would be equally disturbing.
My point is that Hamas, which has moved itself, by intent, into the political realm, will itself realize that the militant era is over, and it must establish a government that is focused on the needs of Palestinians. Israel, for its part, must deal with them. If it refuses to deal with this government - it is rejecting democracy.
I also reject Israel's insistence that Hamas openly state its rejection of violence against Israel before Israel will interact with it. Allow that rejection of violence to be made, after Hamas and the Palestinians feel that they are accepted by Israel in negotiations and talks. Don't be heavy-handed at the first.
My view is that the two state solution is the best, is inevitable - and compromises have to be made by both sides - and especially by Israel and its desire for the West Bank settlements.
But, it won't help anyone to reject Hamas because 'they are a terrorist group'. You have to allow them to, themselves, reject war and violence, and to, themselves, move into the political scenario instead. If you view them only as militants, then, you will keep them there. And that means - you will keep violence in the ME.
Posted by: ET | 2006-01-28 7:56:29 AM
Posted by: lwestin | 2006-01-28 8:32:46 AM
Margaret Macmillan’s Paris 1919 indicates the problem with Germany was that it wasn’t clearly conquered after WWI. The winners sort of walked away and didn’t smash the Germans. Therefore the German citizens never got the feeling that they lost. One thing led to another through the boom and bust, inflationary 1920’s and this allowed Hitler to get elected in 1933 and so on. Perhaps we have the same problem of not delineating winners from losers in the Middle East?
The Islamofascists are not conquered yet. We need to make them feel conquered. Until we clearly conquer Islamofascism democracy in the Middle East will not unfold the way we want it to yet.
The questions I have are: does Hamas looks like Hitler in 1933?
Will Hamas assume a political role and drop it’s military focus so that it can give the Palestinian people their basic economic and security needs?
It took centuries for the Middle East to become totally screwed up we aren’t going to get out of this mess quickly. Does the Western world have the stomach to keep fighting insurgencies or will the MSM keep reporting our failures versus success in Iraq and we give up as Bin Laden predicted we would?
I have a lot more questions than answers , I guess I’ll have to keep watching the CBC for the answers.
Posted by: nomdenet | 2006-01-28 9:37:17 AM
I don't equate the Palestinian militants with Al Qaeda terrorists. In my view, they have completely different origins and different agendas.
As far as I am concerned, Al Qaeda has never given a damn about the Palestinians or the Palestine/Israel situation. It will refer to them, sometimes, in its rants - much as Martin used abortion as a rhetorical tactic - but, IF Al Qaeda had cared about the Palestinians, then, it would have focused its attacks against Israel, and would have referred to the Palestinians at least two or more decades ago.
I also disagree with nomdenet that the roots of the Second World War was because Germany didn't feel 'decisively defeated' in the First. I think wars and economies are more complex than pyschological feelings.
And, as I said, Islamo-fascism has, in my view, nothing to do with Palestine. It is a development that is rooted in the dysfunctional infrastructure of a tribal economic and political mode - when its population has exponentially increased - far beyond the capacity of a tribal governance. It is a development that emerges, much like a cancer, when a system becomes unbalanced in its metabolism. Either the system moves and changes in a robust manner, or, it can degenerate into disease - Al Qaeda.
The imbalance... is the Infrastructure versus the Content. A plastic container can contain water at room temperature; it cannot contain molten steel. The metabolism of a paramecium cannot sustain the needs of a rabbit. And a tribal infrastructure cannot sustain or organize a massive population in the millions.
The transformation to industrialism, which requires democracy, heterogeneity, debate, dissent etc..is strongly resisted by one sector of Islam - Al Qaeda. They want to retain tribalism and as the population moves, itself, towards industrialism and democracy, their repressive measures increase. They attack industrialism moving into the ME (and attack the US as its chief origin); they attack democracy (and therefore the US). But - they cannot stop this movement - because, as I keep ranting on - a multimillion population cannot operate as a homogeneous rigid infrastructure. Think of a society almost as a biological entity; you can't have a simple metabolism and structure, if the content is a huge energy mass!
So, Al Qaeda is, in the long run, bound to lose. But, the problem in the ME was that their repressive maintenance of tribalism was enabled by the wealth income of oil..which enabled the tribal dictators to operate as military dictatorships and repress the people. That 'lid on the steaming pot' exploded against the West. And the West had to move, finally, to open the door to democracy.
With regard to the Palestinian/Israeli situation, this has nothing to do with a tribal governance over an increasing population that is moving into industrialism (which the Palestinians are not). It has to do with the need for a population (the Palestinians) for a government and an economy. Under occupation, they have neither. Very different.
Posted by: ET | 2006-01-28 10:19:26 AM
---"Israel, for almost a generation, has not recognized a 'Palestinian State'."
WRONG. Like I said, no grasp of history. I guess, you don't remember the terms of camp David -- Um, a palestinian state and half of Jerusalem.
Unfortunately you wasted a lot of time with the rest of your augment, because your premise is completely at odds with the facts. You can’t apply the hard-line philosophy of minority settlers to Israel proper, in the same way you can apply the stated mandate of the PLO -- and now -- HAMAS, the rulers of the territories and obviously the 60 percent of people who support that mandate.
---"A generation of occupation, with its economic degradation and poverty, its political emptiness, and the agenda of the far right party in Israel to attain all the land..”
Well, the far right party has only really been in power for the last 6 years, so it must have been something else that has instigated war for the last 60. Sure, occupation, doesn’t light a fire under an economy, but neither does stealing billions in "humanitarian" aid given by the UN and EU. Funny, how occupation is the culprit of poverty (and in general Palestinians aren’t as poor as you think. If you talked to Canadian-american Palestinians you’d know) but aid spent on French palaces and suicide bombers doesn’t it? How about using the money to set up business infrastructure and creat free markets? Hard to move goods with the checkpoints, you say? True, although there's nothing stopping them from having a functioning inner system for starters. And the fact of the matter is, if there was a modest break in violence over the last decade – say, for example, for six straight months without a mortar attack or suicide bombing – there would be no wall right now, and checkpoints would be as lax as they were in the mid ‘90s.
---“You have, on both sides, militants and hard-liners, which have to move to a peripheral role ... And, you have the settlements in the occupied land. Very difficult.”
You are almost obsessed with the argument that the settlements are one of two main obstacles to peace. Again, Barak offered to withdraw from 95% of the territories and compensate the Palestinians for at least part of the remaining 5% with Israeli territory. If settlements were the problem, why did the Palestinians reject the solution? They wanted the 100%? Fine, but then why not take the deal, and work on the rest in following negotiations. Why do they (as they always seem to do when peace gets a little too close), pick up their ball and go home? The other obstacle -- an end to violence and declaration for Israel's right to exist, has that ever been reciprocated by the Palestinians. Ever.
Even when the most hard-line of Israeli leaders, concedes settlements – his bedrock of support, what is the response? There were attacks from within Gaza in days. But Sharon, as you say, had the “easy first step.” No, the easy first step would be to cut a shift or two at the explosive belt factory.
---“Then, Hamas, for some reason, moved from the militant actions to the political. That's quite stunning in it. A group whose only agenda is to fight the enemy - moves into politics????:
Amazing. I guess you’re not familiar with how most of the ruling despots around the world started off? (Think contemporary Africa). Jeez, it’s really not that unique of a situation.
---"What are the needs of the people? The same as elsewhere. Food, water, shelter, health, education, jobs...None of this is obtainable without an economy, and an economy rests on a state, on property. Therefore, Hamas must govern, with a focus on these needs, and a focus on establishing the state of Palestine - peacefully.”
Right. But are those not the needs of all people and responsabilities of all states? And aren’t dictators all over abandoning their people’s basic needs for their own gains? What do you think is happening in N Korea and Cuba? What the F makes Hamas so special that they won't go down the same path? Because they HAVE to? No they don’t. Arafat was a killer who saw no need to take care of his people, and quite frankly, there's no evidence hamas will be different. In fact, the opposite is true.
I’m quite confused at your premise that just because you get handed the keys to the palace, you’re not going to loot it. Look around the world, man!
---"The US and the West moved quickly and correctly, in informing Hamas that they were now a political group. Not a militant group - and therefore, their agenda had to change from their former 'Down with Israel' to a two-state reality. Hamas, which has moved itself, by intent, into the political realm, will itself realize that the militant era is over, and it must establish a government that is focused on the needs of Palestinians.”
Again, why do you believe that? You don’t answer my last question. That’s a pretty bold statement. What is it based on? What indication have you seen from these people that they will comply with these demand? Do you know something we don’t? Is there a moderate visionary in the party we don’t know about? Tell me? In the meantime, here’s more Hamas charter, which as far as I know is unchanged today…
... Israel will rise and will remain erect until Islam eliminates it...Peace initiatives, so-called peaceful solutions, and the international conferences to resolve the Palestinian problem, are contrary to the beliefs of the Islamic Resistance Movement. Their [the Zionists'] scheme has been laid out in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion...
The protocols is a nice touch, I must say. A little bit of research. Nice.
Posted by: Stopthetrain | 2006-01-28 11:29:53 AM
"With regard to the Palestinian/Israeli situation, this has nothing to do with a tribal governance over an increasing population that is moving into industrialism (which the Palestinians are not). It has to do with the need for a population (the Palestinians) for a government and an economy. Under occupation, they have neither. Very different."
But they could have, without occupation. If they wanted it.
Posted by: Stopthetrain | 2006-01-28 11:32:43 AM
Stopthetrain- I DO have a grasp of history. Please don't move into generalities about the personalities or intellectual capacities of other debaters in a debate; please just stick to the issues within the debate.
The Camp David offer did not go through; Israel does not recognize Palestine as a state. The Camp David offer did not go through for many reasons. There was Arafat's rejection because it would mean, for him, a loss of power; and, the rejection of the offer also, because it balkanized the proposed state of Palestine, keeping roads, resources etc, all within the control of Israel. That is hardly the infrastructure of a robust economy.
I am not obsessed with anything; I maintain that the occupation was, and remains, an obstacle to peace and to economic viability. By the way, how do you know whether/not I have contacts with Palestinians?
The fact that Israel settled those occupied lands is an act of rejecting the right of Palestinians to those lands - therefore, you can maintain that hard right settlers are a minority - but the government authorized expansive settlement is what is important.
I maintain my point - the occupation of the lands, coupled with the illegal settlement of those lands - deprived the Palestinians of an economy. I am not denying the corruption of Arafat's set; I've mentioned it many times. And I don't see how a people who are occupied can agree to Israel's 'right to exist' when Israel itself doesn't agree to their 'right to exist' and continues to settle their lands.
So what's your point about African despots? There is no similarity. You cannot set up a truism that All rebel leaders move into political power by winning a democratic election.
I guess we'll have to 'agree to disagree'. I don't think that you have the proof that Hamas will act just the same as Arafat. I'm not 'convinced' of my conclusion - in answer to your original question; I'm going by an analysis of soemthing quite different than personalities and people.
I, frankly, never analyze history by 'personalities'; that's what I call 'descriptive research' and I feel it's superficial. I use something quite different, based on research in physics, biology and social systems. It's energy dynamics...and relates to the basis of my research field - informational structures, networks and complex adaptive systems. I analyze societies as 'complex adaptive systems'..and have done so (and taught it) for many years. It's hard to explain in this type of post, but, the axioms deal with energy content (defined as raw material e.g, water, soil, climate, and population) and organizational infrastructure of this raw material.
So-my conclusion is that, the Palestinian/Israeli situation must resolve into a two-state solution. The rhetoric of both sides has been, for a generation, to deny the viability of both sides; I maintain that given this rhetoric, the 'solution' was Might. Israel 'won' because of its military and economic power. But, I maintain that the occupation and illegal settlements gravely harmed the situation..and that now..with that massively increased Palestinian population, it has to end - and a two-state solution has to develop. It has NOTHING to do with leaders, or people..who can only inhibit, or harm..or speed up the dynamics..but, cannot in the long run, change it.
Posted by: ET | 2006-01-28 12:20:24 PM
ET, are you saying that Palestinians will accept the existence of the state of Israel provided that Israel makes sufficient concessions?
Posted by: EBD | 2006-01-28 2:32:27 PM
Oh, man. “The Camp David offer did not go through.” You make it some sound it was some administrative oversight, or something.
“There was Arafat's rejection because it would mean, for him, a loss of power; and, the rejection of the offer also, because it balkanized the proposed state of Palestine, keeping roads, resources etc, all within the control of Israel. That is hardly the infrastructure of a robust economy.”
Are you kidding me? This from an academic? Like I said, the deal may not have been perfect for all Palestinians. But was walking away and launching the second Intifada an appropriate response? The deal included 2 main things – the two pillars of a peace settlement that you state are essential: removal of the settlements and a Palestinian state that Israel and the world would recognize. But no. Arafat – with the approval of the Palestinians, I may add, considering their enthusiasm for the barrage of violence and murder of innocents that followed in the ensuing months – walked away with NOTHING. And NOTHING is what Arafat wanted. Now, you want to come back to me by citing infrastructure and logistics problems inherent in the proposal as a justifiable response for what Arafat pulled, and the Palestinians carried out? Unreal.
You have written several times that Israel refuses to recognize a Palestinian state. This is simply a lie. Again, Israel offered a Palestine state of two occasions in front of the world. But the PLO, and Hamas never removed their stated pledge to destroy Israel form their mandates.
“So what's your point about African despots? There is no similarity. You cannot set up a truism that all rebel leaders move into political power by winning a democratic election.” Trusism? Now we’re talking like Chompsky. We both know that my reference to African despots was to point out that terrorists and criminals can indeed rise to political power,and remain terrorists and criminals, without magically, as you claim with no evidence Hamas will do, transform into statesmen and diplomats.
“The fact that Israel settled those occupied lands is an act of rejecting the right of Palestinians to those lands .” Um, no. Actually Israel settled onto Egyptian and Jordanian territory – the latter of which was given to the palestinaians for their own state. Those two nations lost that land in wars that they launched. Israel then offered to give it back on more than one occasion, but Jordan was forced by the Arab League to reject it – creating, the “refugee” camps we refer to today.
And here in lies the real issue: The reason why a Palestinian Diaspora exists. The reason why Arafat answered serious propositions of peace with violence, and the reason why Hamas will do the same. Arafat, as will Hamas, is a subject of the more theocratic surrounding Arab nations, whose best interests are to keep the Palestinians exactly in the wrecked state they have been in for decades. That, sir, is a caveat that your research model of “physics, biology and social systems -- energy dynamics” doesn’t accommodate. How clever a response to my demand that you provide evidence that somewhere in Hamas’ character they is room for peace with Jews. Okay, screw ‘personality’. How about tracks records, then? How about a clear mandate to wipe Jews from the region. Only rhetoric, right? I guess, whatever the justification you can mold to fit in your theory 'complex adaptive systems.’
Like most academics, you seem to think that all solutions are found in the classroom, communicated by intellects like yourself. Sometimes the answers are not muddled with nuances. Sometimes the onus does rest on one side. And after all the concessions made by Israel over the years that didn’t bear fruit, and nothing ever returned by the Palestinians, the onus is on the latter. Now the onus is on Hamas. Today! Is it not? Will they renounce terrorism? Will they put down their arms in front of the world and open a dialogue with Israel right away, bouncing the onus back to Israel’s side? You say yes. Yes, you say with no light illuminating from Hamas.
But I’m done. You can have the last word, or three, if you want. Simply, we obviously both believe in a two-state solution. You’re optimistic that the bloodiest killers in the region can somehow be transformed into statesmen. I’m … well, sir, I’m actually the one who’s the pragmatist.
Posted by: Stopthetrain | 2006-01-28 2:37:45 PM
ET, are you saying that Palestinians will accept the existence of the state of Israel provided that Israel makes sufficient concessions?
More sufficient than 95% of the territories and half of the holy city, that is...
Posted by: Stopthetrain | 2006-01-28 2:39:11 PM
Well, Stopthetrain- as you say, we'll have to simply acknowledge our disagreements.
I am saying that the Palestinians will acknowledge the state of Israel, when Israel acknowledges the state of Palestine. To achieve this interaction, Palestine must be a state; i.e., it must have territory that it governs in a deeper economic sense than if those territories were merely municipalities (i.e., with the resources and air space controlled by Israel).
To have a territory, requires the abandonment by the Israelis of the illegal settlements in both Gaza and the West Bank and the acknowledgement of these territories, in depth (ie resources, water, etc) as Palestinian. As for Jerusalem - that's something else to be negotiated. I have no view on this.
I see no other option. Neither the Israeli people nor the Palestinian people, in the majority, want this situation to continue. That's pragmatics.
I don't agree with your view that 'the bloodiest killers' cannot establish a constructive and negotiated settlement. They really have no choice. The two peoples can continue the fight - and even Sharon, the Hawk, realized it was useless (he changed!) and thus, they can grind both peoples into poverty. Both peoples are, even now, heavily reliant on massive foreign aid.
Or, they can realize that it's over and they have to work up a FAIR two-state solution. That means a state of Palestine that owns its own resources (water, land, air)..and does not operate merely as self-governing municipalities. Both sides have to acknowledge the existence of the other. In my view, they have no choice.
Your view seems to be..well, I don't know where it leads. Nowhere, other than constant war, and, you seem to imply, a desire to simply wipe out the Palestinians as 'the only solution'. ???
Posted by: ET | 2006-01-28 3:07:40 PM
"Your view seems to be..well, I don't know where it leads. Nowhere, other than constant war, and, you seem to imply, a desire to simply wipe out the Palestinians as 'the only solution'. ???"
Well, I was going to give you the last word, until I read this last graph, so I'm changing my mind. Your last line is quite insulting actually, considering I've stated many times in the above arguments that there is no future without a two-state solution. I’ll reiterate my talking points, as succinctly as possible for you, so there is no misunderstanding, and further accusation that I support the grotesque phrase of a "final solution" for the Palestinians.
1. I want a free and secure Palestine along side Israel. But I feel after years of concessions by Israel (it's a bold lie, your claim that Israel does not support a Palestinian state -- Oslo, Camp David, so-called Road Map, and recently Gaza) the onus is now on Palestinians to stop bombing for a consecutive period of time (say, six straight months without an attack) and strike language from their written mandates that Israel does not have a right to exist. They were the first to raise their swords, it would be a bold message if the finally put them down. How could Israel refuse to step up withdrawal and approve a state after such a move – and really, a rather simple action.
2. I believe for this to realistically happen, the Palestinians will need a new agent to broker a peace deal. My argument with you is actually quite simple. It's not that a deal can't be reached, but that Hamas is not the right broker, and neither was the PLO. The Arab league must create a new party, a party truly dedicated to peace. Because, as I stated, there are puppet masters within this union, which have no interest in seeing a sovereign Palestinian state.
There are other solutions that aren’t as absolute as being a cheerleader for “constant war” or keeping your fingers crossed that a group of proven terrorists will have a change of heart. It’s that the moderate Arab nations and EU get more involved in helping create real statesmen for the Palestinians, not thugs. And that the more ruthless, theocratic Arab states have the strings cut off to their puppets.
3. If I'm wrong and Hamas is a true partner for peace, as you say, then let them show it. Let them say it, for the world to hear. It’s not a difficult gesture at this critical time.
That's it, ET. Far from the rhetoric of a ‘final solution.’
Posted by: Stopthetrain | 2006-01-29 11:46:09 AM
The comments to this entry are closed.