Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Desecration of Democracy

What does it take to get Israel to just begin recognizing some Palestinian human rights?

1. Carry out democratic elections
2. Determine a government according to the election outcome
3. THEN isolate this government in one part of the country
4. Set an illegal embargo on the people there
5. Freeze the government’s bank accounts
6. Isolate the government internationally

The result will be:

1. The return of all stolen taxes belonging to Palestinians
2. An easing of roadblocks and security measures
3. Lifting of the illegally imposed economic embargo
4. International funding for a new non-democratically determined government
5. Normalization of relations between international governments and the non-democratically determined government
6. The legalizing of private American trade (the world’s largest economy) with Palestinians (previously this deed could result in incarceration)
7. The releasing of a political prisoner (with four life sentences) to strengthen the non-democratically determined government

To try and bolster this two-faced US foreign policy position in the Middle East, the US Secretary of State said Monday:

"Through its actions, Hamas sought to divide the Palestinian nation, we reject that. It is the position of the United States that there is one Palestinian people and there should be one Palestinian state."

In reality is it not Israel and the US that are dividing the Palestinians by politically immobilizing their elected leaders?

On Tuesday White House spokesman Tony Snow was reported saying,

"What's important is, you have to have a partner who is committed to peace, and we believe that President Abbas is. And therefore we are committed to working with this new emergency government.”

A source in the prime minister's entourage in the US explained,

"We want to make Hamas a pariah and prevent it joining the international game."

Hamas' violent takeover of the Gaza Strip last week resulted in two governments: the Hamas leadership headed by deposed Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza and a new emergency cabinet led by the Western-backed economist Salam Fayyad in the West Bank. Both are calling the other the perpetrators of a coup.

What are the sources of this division?

A fear overtook the Gaza Strip after Hamas took control of institutions this past week, which are rightfully theirs to control. The US and Israel’s anticipated and proclaimed reaction to the latest round of events (a democratically elected government taking over government institutions) is causing fear and uncertainty concerning Gazans future plight. Few outside of Gaza realize that the Gaza Strip can hardly be more isolated, or sink into a worse economic depression, save starvation, than it has in the past two years.

Many in Gaza consider the emergency government to be legitimate, for the sole reason that the world, not the majority of Palestinians, actually recognizes the new political entity (in the last parliamentary elections the new prime minister’s party received 2.4% of vote).

The colonial tactic of Conquer and Divide is being put to use on the Palestinians yet once again; initially in the Gaza Strip between Fatah and Hamas and now between the West Bank and Gaza.

This image, developed by Hamas (recalling the American deck of cards of their most wanted in Iraq), paints a vivid picture of the deep seeded divisions in Palestinian society.
Why was Hamas so determined to wipe out this “collaborative cell in Fatah”? To just touch on this question brings to the surface the deck’s Ace, a Dahlan funded hit man called Sameech Almadhoun, nicknamed “Almaleoun” (the cursed one) by many Hamas supporters. In the past weeks Hamas systematically executed his companions and leaders and finally Sameech himself after this small group of fighters wreaked havoc in their neighborhood in the Northern Gaza Strip.

Palestinians are more divided and polarized than ever which can be seen in their reaction to last week’s events. Each side is pointing out the ultimate blame in the other. Haaretz reported this account from a Fatah member who had fled Gaza,

"Hamas believes that nothing will stop them from rising to power. Everything is legitimate: to kill, burn, torture. Three people from National Security were decapitated with a knife, the way they do in Iraq. They cut off the legs of Samih al-Madhun [a senior Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades figure] after they killed him. They are animals."

My neighbor Ayman, a Hamas supporter, was kidnapped by Sameech one week before the latter was executed. Ayman was beaten and taken to the beach to be shot. His oldest brother, himself a Fatah activist, saved his life by calling the perpetrators and pleading for his younger brother’s life, many others were not as fortunate.

“Civil War” has often been uttered prematurely in the media, yet last week’s kidnappings, lootings and murders now taking place on a tit-for-tat basis between West Bank Fatah men and Hamas activists in Gaza demonstrate this new reality. Sameech and his companions were used to sow division between Palestinians.

Part of a Conquer and Divide strategy is timing. Why did Israel wait until this moment to consider Mahmoud Abbas a “partner committed to peace” when his positions have hardly changed since his election over two years ago? Why is Israel only now considering freeing Marwan Al-Barghouthi, a convicted Fatah activist? Why only now release the frozen government taxes ($570 million) that the Palestinians have desperately needed since Israel started withholding them in March of last year?

On Monday Haaretz’s Akiva Eldar wrote,

If Ariel Sharon were able to hear the news from the Gaza Strip and West Bank, he would call his loyal aide, Dov Weissglas, and say with a big laugh: "We did it, Dubi." Sharon is in a coma, but his plan is alive and kicking. Everyone is now talking about the state of Hamastan. In his house, they called it a bantustan, after the South African protectorates designed to perpetuate apartheid.

Just as in the Palestinian territories, blacks and colored people in South Africa were given limited autonomy in the country's least fertile areas. Those who remained outside these isolated enclaves, which were disconnected from each other, received the status of foreign workers, without civil rights. A few years ago, Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema told Israeli friends that shortly before he was elected prime minister, Sharon told him that the bantustan plan was the most suitable solution to our conflict.

Although Mahmoud Abbas and his new US backed government have finally received international status and the economic blockade is being lifted on Palestinians, the Palestinian cause seems to have been buried beneath the ruble. With internal division more than ever in the limelight, the source of all this mess, the atrocities carried out against Palestinians dating back to the early 20th Century, solidified in 1948 and ongoing land theft, colonial expansion and disregard of Palestinian human rights are forgotten amidst the chaos.

The Palestinians are more divided than ever, distracted by wrongs carried out against each other.

The plot of Conquer and Divide is a great smokescreen covering up the desecration of democracy and another attempt to lay to rest the Palestinian cause.

20 comments:

Solomon2 said...

Democracy entails responsibility. Palestinians chose Hamas, an entity that desires destruction of its neighbor and every peace agreement with it as their representative. Why shouldn't collective punishment be an appropriate response? Discover why democracies rarely go to war with each other: because mutual sufferring strips people of their illusions and they can then press their yearnings for peace upon their representatives.

the atrocities carried out against Palestinians dating back to the early 20th Century, solidified in 1948 and ongoing land theft, colonial expansion and disregard of Palestinian human rights are forgotten amidst the chaos.

They aren't forgotten. But what Israel has done to Palestinian Arabs is a small thing compared to what Arabs have done to Palestinian Arabs, and tiny in comparison to the suffering Jews experience at Arab hands - it's just that there is a double standard in acknowledging this.

Unusually, over thirty years ago Abbas acknowledged that the surrounding Arab states were primarily responsible for the fate of the Palestinian Arabs. But nowadays it is easier to blame the Israelis who live "over there" than the Arab neighbor who lives next door and might kill you as a "collaborator" if you aren't agreeable, isn't it? Psychologists call this phenomenon "displacement".

The cause of Palestinians' troubles isn't an effort to "divide and conquer" by the West and Israel - at least, not any more, not since Oslo. Instead, it is the desire, the perceived need, of Arabs to reject Israel and the justice of the Zionism that founded it that is responsible for Arab suffering.

For the truth of the matter is that Israel's establishment was promised in a three-way bargain between Arabs, Jews, and Great Britain to join together to liberate the Middle East from the Ottoman Turks and simultaneously escape French influence. The Holocaust made establishing Israel a priority, but didn't change the substance of the bargain. The Palestinian Arabs didn't have to leave, but chose to rather than live with Jews as equals.

Basem said...

Hey P,

I feel so anxious about the situation in Palestine. I agree with you that the agreement of the US, Israel and the "international community" to resume supporting the "PA" is hypocritical, just as hypocritical as when the US decided to sanction the democratically elected Hamas. There is also something tragic about the fact that the US, due to its official ideology, cannot do other than what it is doing. But indeed, I find it funny that experts here in the US talk about how the West Bank should become a model of how moderate Arabs can succeed over extreme Arabs. Please! If the PA ruling less than 40% of the West Bank with Israel selfishly controlling virtually everything that happens in the West Bank is called success, I would really hate to see what failure looks like. The resumption of support to the PA will do nothing real to change the subjugated status of Palestinians vis a vis Israel, and that will indeed make Abbas look like a fool and puppet. Thanks for your excellent writing. Take care habeebi!

KGS said...

The owner of this blog is leaving out huge portions of the historical record in order to blame everyone else for the Palestinians' troubles.

Both the Palestinians and Israel signed the Oslo agreements that forbade any political party access into the political process in each entity, that supported violence (read=terror) and refused to accept the other.

Israel rejected the Kach party for those two reasons alone. Using the same Oslo documents and sound reasoning, the Hamas and any such party should be automatically rejected as well.

TG is guilty of ommission on such a grand scale, and anyone remotely aware of both the Oslo accords and the Road Map, would recognize the nonsense that "Israel should have recognized Hamas as a legal political party".

Crying victim is an easy route to take, but it doesn't bring the Palestinians any closer to recognizing the main problems in their society. They have only themselves to blame, squandering every opportunity presented to them at bettering their lot.

Their green houses that rest in tatters is proof of their disdain for the common, dull everyday routine of a country bulding its future.

Karin said...

kgs, whatever the history, and that depends on who you listen to, it is crucial that the future holds a peaceful coexistence for Israeli and Palestinian alike, where the human rights of all are upheld. Israel cannot enjoy peace and prosperity nor a good conscience while Palestinian brothers and sisters, equally children of Abraham and equally children of God, are oppressed and poverty-stricken as a reult of Israeli government policies and actions.

Gaza is making the news at the moment, so you are not forgotten in the UK.

Karin said...

Ten Measures of Beauty (Ten Measures of Sorrow)

A Song by Garth Hewitt

Ten measures of beauty God gave to the world,
Nine to Jerusalem, one to the rest-
Ten measures of sorrow God gave to the world,
Nine to Jerusalem, one to the rest-
So, pray for the peace - pray for the peace;
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
Pray for the peace - pray for the peace;
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

You can greet your friends with the word "Shalom,"
Or you can greet them with "Salaam,"
But peace itself will never come
Till there's justice for everyone.
And there can be no peace for the Jew
Till there's peace for the Palestinian, too.
There can be no peace for the Jew
Till there's peace for the Palestinian, too.
So pray for the peace. . .

May the justice of God fall down like fire,
And bring a home for the Palestinian.
May the mercy of God pour down like rain,
And protect the Jewish people.
And may the beautiful eyes of a holy God,
Who weeps for all His children,
Bring the healing hope for his wounded ones
For the Jew and the Palestinian.
So pray for the peace. . .

Garth Hewitt is a singer-songwriter from England who is concerned with justice in God's world.

Solomon2 said...

it is crucial that the future holds a peaceful coexistence for Israeli and Palestinian alike, where the human rights of all are upheld.

That place already exists. It's called Israel. Unfortunately, the desire of Palestinian refugees who refused to return to Israel was extermination, not human rights. Today's "refugees" are their descendants.

Israel cannot enjoy peace and prosperity nor a good conscience while Palestinian brothers and sisters...are oppressed and poverty-stricken as a reult of Israeli government policies and actions.

Billions of dollars of aid has been sent to the Palestinian Arabs, yet much of it has been mis-spent. Was it "Israeli policies and actions" that implanted the larceny we witness on TV into the hearts of Palestinians or their own twisted ideology and economic disincentives?

Karin said...

Solomon2, you obviously have your own ideas about what is true and real. I have come across other versions of the truth and reality of the situation for the Palestinians which differs from yours. Until you have lived among them and 'walked in their shoes' you cannot have a complete picture of what is true and real.

I'm not aware many Palestinians have ever been in a postion to return to Israel as in most cases their homes are lived in by Jews and many were made very afraid by the way they were driven from their homes in the first place.

Whether any money has been mispent by Palestinians or not the fact remains that Israel witholds taxes that belong to the Palestinian people, Israel prevents thousands of Palestinians from going to work on a daily basis, and many more from continuing their studies and sitting their exams, receiving vital medical care and living together as families.

Start to discover the truth by reading Ha'aretz instead of the Jerusalem post and then maybe visit somewhere like Hebron and talk to Palestinians there to discover what they suffer at the hands of the settlers on top of all that the government and army of Israel make them endure.

The truth shall set you free.

Solomon2 said...

Until you have lived among them and 'walked in their shoes' you cannot have a complete picture of what is true and real

Karin, you probably don't even realize how big a confession you've made. Sad.

I'm not aware many Palestinians have ever been in a postion to return -

Now you know.

Israel prevents -

I don't accept everything in your list. Surely by supplying food, water, and necessities to a population whose leaders bombard its citizens, Israel has shown more humanitarian compassion than any other nation on the planet. Whatever you're talking about is small stuff in comparison, relationships and activities that suffer from Israel's minimal efforts at defending itself from Arab terrorism.

Start to discover the truth by reading Ha'aretz -

Ha'aretz's stated policy is to eliminate anything degrading; you can't necessarily find out the truth from them if it is considered too psychologically painful for its intended readership. As Arabs, especially Muslims, react strongly to criticism, their pain threshhold is considered low and Ha'aretz adjusts accordingly.

Perhaps if Arabs showed greater tolerance for dissent among their own brethren truth would be more likely to come out; there is no Gaza or West Bank equivalent to Ha'aretz that I know of. But given a murderous civil conflict within and a drive to conquer directed without, free speech isn't happening. It seems you need only to accuse someone of being a "collaborator" for someone to be shot. It's tough for uncomfortable truths to prevail under such conditions, isn't it?

Karin said...

What sort of confession are you assuming I've made, I wonder?

Solomon2 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Solomon2 said...

That truth is something that comes in different "versions", rather than an objective reality to be discovered to the best of one's ability. See the movie "Rashomon" for further details.

Karin said...

I think it is either arrogant or naive to think any of us can comprehend the whole truth of a situation as complicated as the Is-Pal situation. Everyone will have their own version of the truth based on their personal experience and point of view: that is part of being human. All we can do is try to discover as many parts of the truth as we can - seeing the truth as a kind of jigsaw puzzle so we can't see the whole picture till we have all the pieces.

Solomon2 said...

Even more reason for you to see that movie, Karin.

KGS said...

Let me give ya hint Karin.

It's entirely illogical to morally equate blood thirsty terrorists that believe whole heartedly in "greater Palestine" (meaning all of Israel) with the democratic state of Israel that desperately wants to end the conflict, meaning two states side by side.

Thuggish rule does not find at its center of power the most trustworthy of types. That is a starting point in your quest for the "truth makers".

Joe said...

I'm not sure there is any equivilence being attempted, to be honest. When you're being shot, it makes little odds whether the person doing the shooting is Palestinian or Israeli or what his political views are on the future of the region.

The fact is that if you want peace you have to deal with the people you have to deal with - even if you find their views abhorrant. If you say that you want democracy, you have to put up with the people that democracy brings or stop saying it.

In a sense you are correct - it is interesting to see how many pro-Palestinian groups are stunned into silence by this violence.

It is the same kind of stunned silence that some of us felt when the Israeli army destroyed most of south Lebanon in their search for Hezbollah.

Violence is not the answer to any question - and I will not make moral judgements about how your disgusting violence matches up against someone else's disgusting violence.

Karin said...

Amen, Joe.

Solomon2, it seems the film you mentioned proves my point. according to wikipedia: The Rashomon effect is the effect of the subjectivity of perception on recollection, by which observers of an event are able to produce substantially different but equally plausible accounts of it. . .

. . . It is named for Kurosawa Akira's film Rashomon, in which a crime witnessed by four individuals is described in four mutually contradictory ways


Therefore we all need to listen to accounts from various parties if we really want to get anywhere near the truth. So I listen to all reasonable Palestinians and Jews as well as Westerners, some of whom I know well, who have visited the area and got to know the people. I sometimes even listen to what Jewish and Palestinian extremists say as it is they who have got everyone into the mess, so we need to understand why they have done that.

Solomon2 said...

No, karin, you don't get it. Using Wikipedia doesn't work - not for you, anyway. You're simply going to have to watch it, sorry!

Karin said...

Perhaps using wikipedia helps me avoid the spin. ;)

The Indian (Jain) story of the blind men and the elephant continues to hold true for me. Here's one version http://www.jainworld.com/literature/story25.htm

KGS said...

Joe:
"The fact is that if you want peace you have to deal with the people you have to deal with - even if you find their views abhorrant. If you say that you want democracy, you have to put up with the people that democracy brings or stop saying it."

You make peace only with your "former enemies", not with those who insist on remaining one. You cannot hope to reason with the unreasonable, your efforts will be dashed time and again. Just remember what the German National Socialists did to Chamberlain and to their former communist/socialist allie, Joe Stalin.

As for Southern Lebanon, acting in defence of itself, Israel acted in a more moral way than did any other state has acted under similar circumstances.

Your pacifism is admirable in a world where violence and treachery don't exist. The irony of pacifism is that the pacifist is an extint breed if left to stand on that principle alone.

Joe said...

I am not a pacifist. I just don't think that Israeli violence nor Palestinian violence is justified.

Actually, if you want peace, you always have to negotiate with your enemies.

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