Hamas Wins Big

Posted January 28, 2006


             While everyone is entitled to be surprised at the scale of Hamas’ victory in the recent Palestinian election, it was not totally unexpected. Firstly, anytime you have a party in power for twelve years, there’ll be a throw-the-bums-out mentality. In this case especially so since the inability to hold elections maintained the same people in the legislature for ten years.

             Then you have the corruption bugaboo; nothing unusual there either. Malfeasance in government is present, if not rife, nearly everywhere. Ineptitude in the provision of services also figures prominently, but one can hardly expect exemplary operations from a government of a country under a brutal military occupation.

             The predictable Israeli response was that they now have no one to negotiate with. This is highly disingenuous, to say the least, since there have been no peace talks for quite some time. Talking would be futile anyway since Israel will never agree to a fair deal for the Palestinians – absent extreme pressure from the US, which is unthinkable at the present time – and the Palestinians will never accept anything less.

             Nor should they. They had already agreed as part of the Oslo Accords to accept 22% of a land that was once all theirs, but that wasn’t enough for Israel. Those of you who have kept up with this political morass remember hearing, ad infinitum, about the 95% offered by Israel that they gave up in deference to starting another intefada. The problem with that was the 5% the Israelis insisted upon keeping included corridors that divided the West Bank into three cantons. This would have required Palestinians to go through Israeli checkpoints to go from one village to the next. It included no international borders, allowing Israel to maintain a stranglehold on Palestinian commerce and movement anytime it wished.

             It also enabled Israel to keep its largest settlement blocs, on some of the best land. Just the word ‘settlement’ is a misnomer. The word conjures up images of a few houses in a remote primitive place, an outpost, if you will, whereas the reality is modern cities of up to 30,000 people. They are plush green cities using precious water resources that have been usurped from the Palestinians.

             There was no mention of compensating Palestinian refugees or the right of any of them to return to their homes; as if not dealing with their plight will somehow make them go away. Jews are still fighting for compensation for Holocaust crimes but the Palestinians are told their loss is history and they should just get over it. The more fanatical Israelis, and they make up a good percentage of the population, talk about deporting them to Jordan or some other place.

             Neither is there any intention whatever on the part of Israel to share Jerusalem as the capital of both nations. All in all it was a deal which no self-respecting Palestinian could accept.

             Why would Israel, to this day, be building housing in the West Bank if it ever intended to return the land to its rightful polity? They’ve spent billions, with the help of the US, on Jewish expansion in the West Bank in the past few years. You don’t buy a house today that you expect to bulldoze in a year or two, or ever, if fairness is included in your worldview. You especially don’t do that to a people you hope to come to an amicable agreement with.

             I heard a knowledgeable supporter of Hamas on BBC make a great and essential distinction between destroying the state of Israel and destroying the Jewish people. He said that Jews had always been in Palestine and always would be there and the Palestinians had no problem sharing their land with them. His problem was with the Jewish state.

             I totally agree. It’s a country founded on conquest and determined, to this day, to increase its territory by force and in defiance of every international norm – a rogue state in every sense of the word. It has a policy towards its conquered population of abuse, humiliation and even starvation – very large numbers of Palestinian children are malnourished. Their object is either to get them to flee, as if they had any place to go, or to grind them into submission until they’re willing to accept permanent underling status.

             It’s a theocracy where you can’t take a bus during the Sabbath. (Of course, if you have a car you can drive which only magnifies the hypocrisy and absurdity.) It doesn’t matter if you’re a Christian or atheist, your life is guided by the rabbis. While not every nation which is ruled by the clergy or where it has undue influence is a total human rights disaster, theocracy is wrong in its essence. No thinking democrat can justify religious interference in daily life. The American colonists knew that more than two centuries ago, and it’s no less true today. It is a socially backward step that has no place in a future-oriented mindset.

             Twenty percent of Israel’s population is Arab and they do vote and have many rights, but touting Israel as a democracy because Arabs vote is equivalent to lauding the democracy of the segregated south. Blacks were always kept separate but never treated equally. The same is true of Israel today. As in segregated America, Arab schools receive far less per capita than Jewish schools.

             The only fair solution, the only enlightened alternative, is two states, one nation. One strictly secular nation where all are treated equally and have equal rights to live anywhere. Two states where each group holds a great majority and can substantially run its own show. Just think, in that scenario Jews could live anywhere in the West Bank. Why do they have to own and rule, why can’t they share? It would be a country where people of all faiths and nationalities could also feel at home.

             That is just the solution we foisted upon Bosnia. Why would it be so important for Serbs, Croats and Muslims, considering the great animosity they feel for each other, to be forced to coexist in one state, but Palestine gets permanently divided.

             Howard Dean was raked over the coals a while back for suggesting the US should be ‘even handed’ in dealing with the Middle-East conflict. Can you imagine an ethical person actually trying to justify being unequally handed, in unfairly favoring one party over the other? Wouldn’t that be prima facie evidence of a wrong attitude? And yet the discourse in America is so skewed as to be unfathomable to a fairly-minded person.

             Well, there are a lot of crazies running the world, especially prominent among them the religious fanatics, so I don’t expect reasonable discourse or a fair settlement to be a possibility in today’s climate.

In the future? Unquestionably one Palestine/Israel with all peoples living as neighbors in peace.