.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}
Miscellaneous thoughts and ramblings
Saturday, January 28, 2006
Democracy, Palestinian Style
What a great week for a cynic like me! The world is stunned and appalled by the Hamas victory at the ballot box. Here are some points that deserve note.

Europe with a united voice expressed dismay at the Hamas victory and insisted that Hamas end its call for the destruction of Israel. That's extraordinary. Just a year and a half ago Arafat was having every European leader hug him and demand that Israel show "restraint" in its self-defense.

Bush made a reasonable point when he said that we will not accept any ruling party that (1) calls for the destruction of our ally, Israel and (2) has an armed wing. The second part cracked me up, because it should go without saying. But of course, Fatah, the brain-child of Arafat has an armed wing too, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, and we've been dealing with them all along. Can you imagine if the Democrats and the Republicans and the Greens and Peace & Freedom and the Libertarians all had "armed wings" composed of poorly trained goons who periodically fought it out in the streets? What sort of society runs itself like that? Answer: Arab society. In all other Arab countries, the leader of the strongest faction simply routed out the rest by force, killed all their supporters and established himself as the Supreme Leader.

In fact, those armed wings are fighting it out in the streets now, which makes sense. Why listen to the ballot box when each party has 5,000 armed men? Whoever loses will inevitably decide they want a "recount" at the dangerous end of their AK47.

Which brings me to the poorly trained armed goons. What kind of firearm training do these morons get? Which class starts with "Now remember, if you win the election, shoot off 50 rounds or so up in the air"? I've only taken a couple of handgun safety classes, and I can inform our less-knowledgeable readers with assurance that firing weapons into the air violates several very basic firearm safety rules (yes, even if you win an election). The other thing that makes me think that these guys are either incompetent or don't really have their hearts in the fight is that Fatah and Hamas goons will shoot at each other all day with a result of only 3 wounded. That's the kind of fighting that lost you the Six Day War, fellas.

Overall, I'm optimistic. Gaza seems ripe for a long overdue civil war without an Israeli soldier anywhere in sight.

Of course, some Americans and Europeans never learn and are already trying to figure out ways to allow negotiations with Hamas, but they're in the minority. Interestingly the peace-at-any-cost gang (including, I think, our State Dept) is still propping up Abbas and wants to continue dialogue with the PLO/Fatah even with Hamas in power. That's funny. For decades people complained that Arafat and the PLO were unrepentant terrorists with whom negotiations would be self-defeating. The peace-at-any-cost gang always answered "Yes, he may have a checkered past, but he is the only one who truly represents the Palestinian people." What's our excuse now for dealing with Abbas and Fatah? They're clearly not the representatives of the Palestinian people anymore. They're just the first terrorist organization to lose an election.
I don't see this as a negative development. The main difference between Fatah and Hamas is that Hamas is more honest about their overall goals.

It's like a breath of fresh air.
I just hope that the various indignant Western leaders — notably European leaders — will follow through on their threat to withhold funding from the Palestinian Authority unless Hamas changes its tune.

I think there's a historic opportunity here, to force Hamas at least a step or two down the path of legitimacy.

I also think this is the first time that Sharon's leadership has been really missed. I wonder how he would have responded to the election results?
" firing weapons into the air violates several very basic firearm safety rules (yes, even if you win an election). "

you crack me up.

Psychotoddler: You're right. It's all good.

Q: It's interesting. Condy's already talking about withholding aid and asking the UN and Europe to do the same. Re Sharon: He's surprised me too many times. I have no idea what he would have done.

Birdwoman: Hee hee. I'm glad I entertain. But, really. These guys crack me up. They use their automatic rifles the way my four year old girl uses a plastic tiara and wand. They're not precise tools; they're costume.
I think its a neutral development, with a possibility it could turn into something positive. At least Hamas (like Sharon) would actually be able to "deliver" on promises. They are not, however, at a point where they can be considered a legitimate negotiating partner. It took the PLO 25 years to get to that point, and I think the election results just sped up the timetable for Hamas. Responsibility for running a state and pragmatism will moderate their rhetoric and professed goals. If not, nothing lost and nothing gained from Israel's point of view. Disengagement continues in the meantime (and makes Sharon seem wiser and more clairvoyant everyday).

Since most of the Western World, including the Bush Administration was caught with their pants down by the results, I wonder how they are going to react when the Islamic fundamentalists we rescued from Saddam are elected in Iraq....
Wanderer: You have a more positive view of the PLO than I. I think it was a mistake to deal with the PLO (even more so now that they’re not even in power) and that as Daniel Pipes says the differences between the PLO and Hamas are only tactical. They have the same goals.

In Iraq, any fundamentalists who are elected still need to deal with Kurds and Shiite opposition and still have to be accountable at the next election. If not, we’re still there with all the tanks and most of the guns. I don’t know if Hamas will ever allow another election for the Palestinians.
Wanderer: the PLO never reached the point of becoming a legitimate negotiating partner. When Arafat was offered practically all he wanted he turned it down and started the latest intifada in an effort to divert attention from his inaction.
I never thought the PLO was anything special, but they were a partner. Since the PA was established the appropriate partner should be whomever it is that heads the PA. Despite the Hamas victory, it still is Abu Mazen, who is from Fatah/PLO.

As has been said before, you don't get to choose your enemy, and therefore, if you would like to resolve your differences peacefully, you negotiate with whomever that enemy happens to be.

Having said that, in order to negotiate with Hamas they would have to change their charter and stated goals to allow for a meaningful dialogue In any case, their charter should probably be seen more as an opening bid negotiation tactic than a realistic goal they think they can actually achieve. Palestinians within the territories tend to be more realistic in general about the fact that Israel is here to stay.
Post a Comment

<< Home

Powered by Blogger