Thursday, January 26, 2006


So Hamas win the Palestinian elections, no great surprise there for anyone actually watching what’s been going on over there. Basically their support stems not from the Palestinians being a bunch of crazed fundamentalists intent on Hollywood villain-esque badness but from two things- firstly Hamas actually spend most of their time providing welfare for the Palestinian people, they were set up as a charity to help some of the most impoverished people around, that and the fact they are perceived as non corrupt compared to some of the Fatah command who grew fat while Palestinians waited in vain for their state to actually be created in the late nineties. The second reason is that Hamas do not compromise, they have yet to be embarrassed as Fatah and the Palestinian government has been in constantly trusting the Israelis to abide by the rules they have agreed. every time the Israelis reneged on a deal or blew up a Police station it made Fatah look weak- they could not even protect their own police, let alone the civilians of the West Bank and Gaza. Hamas in contrast strikes bake, it may not be the most ethical way to conduct a war but they really have no other choice- the only weapon they have is a ready supply of desperate young people who frankly don't care if they blew up innocent women or children so long as they are Israeli. As they have said, they would use F15's if they had them to target Israel, but as it is they use what they can get.

Whether Hamas will go the way of Fatah- initial support souring under the pressure of international isolation and Israeli attack is an interesting question. they will lose support amongst their voters if they try to turn Palestine into an Islamic state, there are still plenty secularist out there and its puritanism is not why people are voting for them.

It was inevitable that a party like Hamas would take over in Palestine, just as it was Sharon would take over in Israel. The constant friction between the two states lead inevitably to battle of extremes, as statesmen on both sides would whip up hatred to further their political agendas. It is as well fulfilling Sharon's dream of having an extremist government in Nablus, giving the Israelis carte blanche to crush completely the Palestinian people. They have the narrative now that the world swallows- that Hamas are unreconstructed terrorist, little better than Al Qaida. The logic then follows that if they are elected then the whole population are terror supporters. That makes it OK to wipe them off the map. I greatly fear that this will be the near future for palestine- that like in the 70's palestinians will be considered nothing but faceless terrorists with their own grievances ignored. I can only put my hope that labour win the next Israeli elections and that they make some serious moves towards working with whichever government is in office next door.

The thing now though it that Hamas is no longer a terrorist entity, it is a legitimate government. Therefore anything it does can no longer be terror, if a country commits an act of terror- say bombing a house in Pakistan for whatever reason it is an act of war. An attack by one state upon another is always an act of war, though many may quibble on this point. Though the face is now isreal and the US should have to deal with them as Government democratically elected by the people- which will be something of a headache to the Bush spin doctors. It also makes a mockery of Israel claim to be the only democracy in the middle east, especially considering Israel’s attempts to disenfranchise the voters of East Jerusalem.

But that is always the story- lies and injustice and lives ruined by western imperialism and Israeli intransience. The worst thing, as always, is that the truth will be distorted- you will not find Bush praising the voters of Palestine for exercising their democratic rights as he did for Iraq. As kissinger said in relation to Chile in the 1970's- they were not about to stand back and let a country be ruined by the short sightedness of its own people. In other words democracy is only acceptable if they elect the right people. Venuzualans were wrong to elect Chavez, as were Haitians to elect Aristide. You can't have it both ways though- you have to accept that if you bring democracy to a country then the people will elect who they want. In Palestine this would be the people most hated by Israel and the US- if only because of that fact.


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