US, Israel Seek to Destabilize Hamas Regime

 

Posted February 17, 2006

 

†††††††††††† Or so the headline went. This was very quickly disowned by the US, but who could doubt for a second that theyíve been thinking in those very terms? Besides, this is nothing new. The US has been in the business of destabilizing democratically elected governments it doesnít like for a long time, starting in the fifties with Arbenz of Guatemala - which led to decades of civil war and tens of thousands of deaths - and Mossedegh of Iran - who was replaced by the hated, despotic Shah. The morass in Vietnam, Allende of Chile, Sihanouk of Cambodia, Nicaragua, El Salvador, the list goes on and on. Unsurprisingly enough, the toppled governments are always left leaning. Megalomaniacal right wing tyrants and other related types of depraved leaders, on the other hand, never seem to be a problem to the CIA. And more curious, and why I canít consider myself a Democrat, regardless of which party is in power the CIA continues on its merry destabilizing way.

This latest interjection is not a very good example of how to teach Arabs about democracy: If you donít like the peopleís choice you try to make it impossible for the winner to govern. This is how the theory goes. You make Palestinian lives miserable, they see the error in their ways, they kick out the guys you donít like and put others in their place who are more malleable to your geopolitical ends. Unfortunately, to think you can punish the Palestinian people enough to make them docile and submissive and amenable to an unfair deal is to be misguided if not delusional. As likely as seeing a hippo doing cartwheels.

Part of the plan for how you turn the screws on the Palestinians for voting for Hamas is you withhold customsí duties you collect on their behalf, since they have no international borders. That is not Israelís money, they have no right to withhold it. This immediately points out in sharp relief the impossibility of the Palestinians ever accepting a state with all of its borders controlled by Israel. Anytime the Israelis get peeved they can easily put the Palestinian economy in a stranglehold. Who could accept that?

Israelís response is entirely understandable: How could they give money to a government that wants to destroy it? That doesnít even recognize it? However, if you look at the facts on the ground, Hamas has maintained a cease fire for more than a year even while Israel has continued its targeted killings of Palestinians. Extra judicial killing is, by any reckoning, murder.

Moreover, any Palestinian who actually thought his country could destroy Israel would have to be dingbat delusional. By the same token any Israeli who actually was concerned about Hamasí ability to eliminate Israel would have to be paranoid delusional. Crude homemade rockets against helicopter gunships? A wealthy and powerful nation with a large army and the most advanced military hardware on earth against an impoverished people armed with handheld guns and suicide belts?

It would be like a gnat challenging a rhino. The most the gnat can do is bother and discomfit the rhino, and then not very much. Palestinians are under no illusions as to their capability of destroying Israel. However, one can understand how it gives them great pleasure to bother the rhino at every opportunity. This is to insure that the rhino can never experience peace until it brings to the negotiating table a fair, respectful and honest deal.

I would love it if the Palestinians could fight their battles non-violently. If you remember the first intefada, in the beginning stone throwing Arab youths were met with live bullets. During those times the kill ratio was 25 Arabs to 1 Jew. Would Israel have responded to non-violent resistance the way the British did in India? I canít say. Stones can hurt, so throwing them cannot be considered non-violent; however itís still a far cry from actually challenging the occupying power with a true insurrection. Israelís tactics later changed to rubber bullets and bone breaking. I mean, how biblical can you get? How Barbarian can you get?

Iíve heard representatives of Hamas interviewed on BBC radio. They expect or hope to compensate for loss of revenue from Israel with contributions from friendly Arab and Muslim nations. As for travel restrictions or more drastic measures like sieges or blockades, thereís really nothing Israel could do on that level to make Palestinians feel any worse than they do now. Israel has used every form of collective punishment short of deportation and genocide to try to convince its subjects to go along with the program. To no avail. Any additional punishment will only stiffen their resolve.

Itís all too easy, facile, to attribute Muslim radicalism simply to deficiencies in the religion, or the temperament of the people involved. Not saying they donít have the tendency to fly off the handle, which I attribute, at least partly, to the prohibition of sex, drugs and alcohol simultaneous with ingestion of large amounts of strong coffee; I too would be a raging bull under those circumstances.

However most people donít get angry without reason, and in this case the impact of Western policies and interventions is the only real bugaboo. If we hadnít installed the Shah with his evil ways, would the Islamic Revolution followed? The anger over the cartoons of Mohammed is a manifestation of an accumulation of real and perceived wrongs. No we canít control the media because we donít censor, but yes the cartoons were calculated to provoke a response, to inflame passions. The greatest of all inflamers of passion, of course, is Israel itself. It is a dagger in the side of almost every Arab and Muslim. It is a slowly twisting dagger that generates hostility, hatred and desire for revenge.

Itís theoretically possible that Israel could have won over the Palestinians after conquering their land if they had been scrupulous about being fair and serious about integrating them into the Israeli state. Their intention from the first was to keep the acquired territories, so in immediate terms the conquered people were as good as citizens.

Needless to say, they have been sorely mistreated. One only has to look at the Gaza strip where 8000 Jews lived on 40% of the land while 1 million Arabs lived on the other 60%, in one of the most crowded places on earth. How could a fair-minded person ever be able to justify such a situation? Yet, how long did it take, how many dead Jews did it take for Israel to realize that it couldnít forever rule over an unwilling people?

Now Israel is set to put the squeeze on the Palestinians while it unilaterally decides the borders and parameters of the separation of the two peoples. They will undoubtedly do it in a way that the Palestinians can never accept. They will have the land as long as they wish, but they will never have peace to go with it without a sea change in attitude.