Thursday, June 21, 2007

Why this Coup D'etat?

Technically what took place in Gaza last week cannot be considered a coup, and yet practically it very much took the shape of a bloody coup d’etat.

Why is it that an elected government is required to carry out a coup?

After some days of reflection and hearing many, many accounts of what took place last week, I stick to my early conclusion that the Hamas routing of Fatah security forces in Gaza was politically warranted. But I don’t believe that the means justified the ends.

Sadly, the blood that was shed was the only option the opposition and the international community that backed it, left the democratically elected Hamas leadership to take on the role the people had chosen for it. Hamas’ takeover of Gaza’s rival security forces took on the form of a coup because they were not given rightful control of government institutions after winning the elections. This coup may have been the only option left for Hamas to attempt to earn some form of legitimacy and end the endless inter-factional fighting.

The vast majority of Gazans are living a much safer reality today than they were when two parties vied for authority over Gaza’s security forces. Yet, a minority still suffers, Fatah members fear Hamas searches of their homes, mother’s fear that their sons, who were employed by the former security forces, will be rounded up and punished. The same certainly filled the hearts of Hamas members and their families in the past; now the tables have turned. The reality is that in this society checks and balances are few and far between, largely relying on a familial network of who knows who.

While visiting Ireland yesterday, Jimmy Carter had this to say,

“This effort to divide Palestinians into two peoples now is a step in the wrong direction, all efforts of the international community should be to reconcile the two, but there's no effort from the outside to bring the two together."

"The United States and Israel decided to punish all the people in Palestine and did everything they could to deter a compromise between Hamas and Fatah."

Hamas was given few options and now has played into this strategy of division. Despite positive reports of last week’s events by a human rights group, Hamas ought to be held responsible for some of the brutal actions perpetrated. The bluff of the international community ought to be called; they fabricated this division and now seek to perpetuate it. Today, Abu Mazen accused Mishal of his attempted assassination, by airing a video recording that he claims proves his statements. Hamas for its part accused Dahlan, Abu Mazen’s National Security Advisor, of poisoning former president Yaser Arafat and attempting to assassinate Prime Minister Haniyeh.

In the course of this political power struggle, it is the common people that suffer.

Many rival media outlets were closed during the four days of fighting, the Fatah sponsored Palestine TV has been moved to Ramallah in the West Bank after Hamas closed their office in Gaza, the director fleeing for his life. As one of their anchors pointed out, their callers from Gaza are now their eyes on the street in Gaza.

The following words were spoken through streams of tears in a call to Palestine TV during last weeks fighting by an elderly woman from Beit Hanoun, Gaza,

Where are you Abu Mazen, where are you Ismail Haniyeh?
Curse political titles
Why do we Arabs fight each other?
We want to live, we want peace
This will be recorded in history
Where are you Muslims, shame on you
We don’t want political titles
What is this that is happening?
Ibrahim my son, this is my son, shame on you
Oh world, come and see what Beit Hanoun looks like
During the days of incursions we used to be able to fill out water Gerry cans, now we can’t even leave out homes
Shame on you, you that killed Abu Lou’ai and Ibrahim..


KGS said...

"The vast majority of Gazans are living a much safer reality today"

I doubt that the Christians in Gaza share your sentiments. Seeing their women being forced to dress as Muslims is not a step in the right direction.

I fail to see how a fantical religious supremacist movement could warrant any kudos, except if your a male hetrosexual Muslim.

Jim said...

Tubula gaza, this as you asked it, is the question of the moment: "Why is it that an elected government is required to carry out a coup?". . . to establish an authority which was presumed to be gained from what, by all accounts, was a patently fair and democratic election.

I would suggest that a second question for Americans and Europeans is now this: "Why is Fatah suddenly labeled as 'the good Palestinians' while Hamas continues as 'the terrorists'? For those of us in the U.S., the party line in the media remains that we are suppposed to reject Hamas because (a) "they do not recognize Israel" (without stating the obvious problem: which Israel in terms of boundaries is supposed to be recognized?) and (b) "they are not renouncing violence as an expedient political means" (without condoning the use of violence whatsoever, I don't believe that Hamas is alone in using this means).

So I echo Jimmy Carter's assertions and add my own that our American foreign policy of division is currently based on a predictably ethnocentric view of the world with all the fear and ignorance this entails. Will we ever find leaders (Israelis, Palestinians, Americans, Europeans) who will have the courage to transcend this narrow self-interest view of the world?

In an article this week in the U.S. based Time, Columnist Joe Klein asserts that, in the coming political season, Americans are in a serious mood, wanting courage from their candidates. He identifies courage in five directions, one of which is Foreign Policy and National Security where he comments thusly: "Belatedly, the (Bush) Administration has attempted to revive diplomacy in the Middle EAst. But diplomacy isn't a spigot you turn on and off; it is a tepid stream of meetings and consultations. It is not for those with attention-deficit disorder; it requires patient, intensive listening to oft-repeated positions and grievances, the eternal search for a comma that will appease both sides. For that reason alone (and I love this next phrase), it would be wonderful to have a President with lots of stamps in his or her passport or a President who speaks a foreign language fluently or has lived overseas. . . or has spent time in negotiations with foreign leaders"

Let us hope for this kind of experience and courage in our leaders be they Israeli, Palestinian, European, or American.