June 18, 2007
The "West" Thinks Palestinians Are Dumb
The internal Palestinian struggle between the Hamas, the elected government party, and the U.S. supported gangs of Mohammed Dahlan was won by Hamas. Hamas now controls the Gaza strip with 1.5 million inhabitants. Dahlan's mercenary fighters were simply not motivated to risk anything for the few dollars they were offered. Their leaders fled.
The corrupt Fatah of Mahmoud Abbas, which lost the 2006 election, used the opportunity to throw out the legal Hamas led unity government and installed a "technocrat" government under the new Prime Minister and western darling Salam Fayyad. Fayyad is a U.S. educated former World Bank and IMF functionary. In the 2006 election he led the Third Way party and won 2.4% of the votes. That is certainly a mark of his popularity level with the Palestinian people.
Now the "West", i.e. the U.S., Israel and the EU are promissing to prop up the Pétain like Abbas and his administration in the West Bank. At the same time Israel blocks all shipment from and to the Gaza strip except some water, food and energy.
The western press frames the West Bank as Fatah territory and the Gaza strip as Hamas territory. This obfuscates the fact that Hamas had won the election in all metropolitan centers in Gaza and in the West Bank. There certainly is majority support for Hamas in the West Bank too. Most of Hamas voters were secular. Hamas will therefore abstain from implementing any non-secular measures. Unlike written in the portraits in the major western press, Hamas is a political movement, not a religious one.
Giving "aid" to the West Bank and Abbas while further isolating Gaza is now supposed to "teach" the Palestinians that subjecting to the western will can result in something "positive", while objecting to it is punished by life in an isolated Ghetto. The "West" seems to think that after having received and resisted such lessons for 60 years, the Palestinians will have to "understand" it this time.
The U.S. and the EU are urging Israel to give additional support to Abbas by removing some of the 240 road blocks in the West Bank and by releasing withheld tax money owned by the Palestinians. Having watched Israeli politics for a while, I doubt that any of this will happen in more than symbolic doses.
Instead the pressure on Gaza will intensify even more with water and energy deliveries to be stopped every once a while at will and for trumped up doubtable reasons. Pressure on the Palestinians in the West Bank may get lifted a tiny, tiny bit, only to be reapplied as soon as another pretext can be found.
If this was not understood before, it is now more than evident that Abbas is just a puppet controlled by the "West" and working against the interest of his people. He will fail to gain anything relevant to them. The Palestinians are certainly not dumb. They can see everyday that Abbas does not deliver for them. Even if he now will get some money, his Fatah government will only return to its usual incompetence and corruption and little will reach the people.
The "West" seems top believe the Palestinians are dumb. They are not. Within a month or a year the Abbas government will fall.
If by then Hamas still exists, it will replace him. If Hamas, through Israeli "targeted killings", is headless by then, new upcoming salafist Islamic movements will take over and the West Bank and Gaza will turn into an anarchic hell. This would give a pretext for Israel to further colonize and ethically clense the West Bank and reoccupy Gaza.
This is in the Israeli interest. Israel will continue to suppress the Palestinians. It will take more land. It will not negotiate for any peace treaty or lift of the occupation. It will talk nice about looking for a "serious partner for peace" while bribing or killing any likely partner that may come up.
Israel has no reason to change this policy. It has worked remarkably well for 40 years and is very profitable. As long as there is no outer pressure on Israel to change its "national interest", a serious economic boycott or the like, there will be no change in that policy.
If the continued pressure will radicalize the Palestinian people, what measures to change the Israeli interest, directly or indirectly, might they take?
Posted by b on June 18, 2007 at 09:24 AM | Permalink
Amen, brother! Israel, with its proxy the U.S want the status quo. What did the "friendship" of Fatah to the U.S and Israel gain for the Palestinian people ? Nothing. Nada. Zip. It got Jewish settlers more
Palestinian land, more hardship for the Palestinian people, and lots of money in Swiss banks for Fatah
Posted by: Norm | Jun 18, 2007 9:54:57 AM | 1
Daniel Levy with about the same thoughts: What Next on Palestine: Time to Get Real
The situation is bleak, if predictable. The unity government arrangement was always a fragile one. The core group within both Fatah and Hamas who supported a national political accommodation between the factions were fighting a rearguard action against rejectionists from within their respective ranks from day one. The hopes for a functioning unity government were dealt a mortal blow when outside actors led by America and Israel, with the support also of certain Arab states and the complicity of Europe, all worked to undermine the government and strengthened those elements within Fatah striving to violently collapse the government.
Naturally, everyone is now looking for a way out and for a ray of hope in this desperate situation. That is a healthy human instinct, but the emerging plan articulated over the last days from many quarters and in danger of becoming entrenched, is a fantastical one – divorced from reality and far too similar to the previous failed policies that helped create this disaster. The emerging plan is known variously as promoting Fatahland, while punishing Hamastan, or West Bank first, or feed the West Bank/starve Gaza. There is no detailed elaboration of the plan yet, but its outline would look something like this:
Use the new reality as an opportunity to drive home the division between the West Bank-Fatahland and the Gaza-Hamastan.Visibly demonstrate to the Palestinians that Fatahland is a happy place with an advancing peace process, while Hamastan is a dark and hopeless place excluded from this march of peace. Ultimately, so the story goes, the Palestinians embrace the Fatah alternative. Hamas peacefully accepts the consequences or is militarily defeated and we all live happily ever after.
Round one of defeating Hamas militarily has failed. Round two should not be tried. Its results will likely be terror emanating from the West Bank or the emergence of an al-Qaedist alternative to Hamas. This is an important part of looking at things as a simplistic Fatah-Hamas dichotomy. There is a third way. It is about al-Qaeda wannabes and copy-cats and they are likely to be the big winners if wise-heads fail to prevail.
Posted by: b | Jun 18, 2007 11:59:36 AM | 2
Akiva Eldar, very senior Israeli commentator, writes in Haaretz:
If Ariel Sharon were able to hear the news from the Gaza Strip and West Bank, he would call his loyal aide, Dov Weissglas, and say with a big laugh: "We did it, Dubi." Sharon is in a coma, but his plan is alive and kicking. Everyone is now talking about the state of Hamastan. In his house, they called it a bantustan, after the South African protectorates designed to perpetuate apartheid.
Just as in the Palestinian territories, blacks and colored people in South Africa were given limited autonomy in the country's least fertile areas. Those who remained outside these isolated enclaves, which were disconnected from each other, received the status of foreign workers, without civil rights. A few years ago, Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema told Israeli friends that shortly before he was elected prime minister, Sharon told him that the bantustan plan was the most suitable solution to our conflict.
The right and the settlers feared that the disengagement from the entire Gaza Strip was no more than a down payment on a withdrawal from most of the West Bank. The left and the international community similarly believed that if the evacuation of Israeli soldiers and civilians from Gaza went well, the way would be paved for a two-state solution; but there were also some who feared that Sharon did not intend merely to sever Gaza from Israel, thereby erasing 1.4 million Arabs from the demographic balance, but also to drive a wedge between Gaza and the West Bank.
Exactly two years ago, in June 2005, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit warned Shimon Peres during a visit to Israel that if the disengagement were not accompanied by progress toward a solution in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip "would explode," in his words. The then vice premier told his guest that he agreed with every word, but took care to point out that his statements did not necessarily reflect the views of prime minister Sharon.
Israel's violation of the Agreement on Movement and Access, which was signed by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, strengthened suspicions that Sharon was plotting to sever Gaza from the West Bank. The order that the dogs could bark, but the caravans would not move between the Palestinian Authority's two sections had already been quietly issued by the end of 2005. That was a few months before Hamas' victory in the PA parliamentary elections provided the winning excuse for sealing off Gaza. Following the political upset in the territories, the severance policy became official. Israel imposed a sweeping ban on Gaza residents entering the West Bank, which even applied to students with no record of security offenses. Even as it was protesting the Hamas government's refusal to commit itself to previous agreements, Israel was disavowing the interim agreement (Oslo II) that it signed in Washington in September 1995, under which the West Bank and Gaza constitute a "single territorial unit."
Alongside the severance of Gaza from the West Bank, a policy now called "isolation," the Sharon-Peres government and the Olmert-Peres government that succeeded it carried out the bantustan program in the West Bank. The Jordan Valley was separated from the rest of the West Bank; the south was severed from the north; and all three areas were severed from East Jerusalem. The "two states for two peoples" plan gave way to a "five states for two peoples" plan: one contiguous state, surrounded by settlement blocs, for Israel, and four isolated enclaves for the Palestinians. This plan was implemented on the ground via the intrusive route of the separation fence, a network of roadblocks deep inside the West Bank, settlement expansion and arbitrary orders by military commanders. The cantonized map that these dictated left no chance for the road map or the "gestures" that Israel promised to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and the Americans.
But the hope that Hamas' thugs and Fatah's good-for-nothings will finish the work of that well-known righteous man, Sharon, and his flunkies in the government and army is no more than a warped delusion. Eight years of rioting and terror ended in the liquidation of South Africa's bantustans and their inclusion in a unified state governed by the black majority. This dream of Palestinian protectorates - Hamastan in Gaza and the Fatahland enclaves in the West Bank - is similarly the end of any solution based on dividing the land: Israel in agreed-upon borders based on the Green Line and Palestine on the other side. If we do not quickly wake up from this dream and rescue what remains of the two-state vision, we will truly be left with a choice between the plague - an apartheid regime - and the cholera: the Jewish state's replacement with a binational state between the Jordan River and the sea. Including the Gaza Strip.
Posted by: Bea | Jun 18, 2007 12:08:59 PM | 3
An important post up by Badger at Missing Links:
Economics for the 21st century
From today's Al-Quds al-Arabi:
"[We] learned from sources working for NGOs in Palestine yesterday that they have received from the USAID organization a request for them to present large-scale project proposals for financing [by USAID] in the West Bank on an accelerated basis. According to these sources, USAID ...requested, less than 12 hours after the appointment of Dr Salam Fayadh to form an emergency government, ideas for huge projects to be carried out in the West Bank, on condition that these projects be capable of showing quick results in the life of people in the West Bank and that they involve large numbers of Palestinian workers. The sources told [us] that these are [supposed to be] projects in which it will be apparent that there is large-scale American funding for improvements in the life of the people of the West Bank, and that this [American connection to the quick improvements] should be readily apparent to the eye and tangible on the ground...."
And lest there be any doubt, these NGO sources spelled out the political content of this:
"The sources said what is being asked of them is to convince the people of the West Bank that they are fortunate having the government of Fayadh and the decision of Abbas to form this government, in contrast to Hamas which controls Gaza. Concerning the possibility of carrying out any projects in the Gaza Strip, sources who asked not to be identified by name said they are being told it is not allowed to let even one dollar reach the Gaza Strip."
The sources said the USAID office in Tel Aviv will be busy with formulating details for this today and in the days to come. The reason these need to be projects with short-term tangible effects to influence the results of the elections Abbas and his handlers hope to call soon.
Hijacking of economic aid to serve the anti-Hamas agenda isn't new. In the document headed "Action Plan" (of US authorship, written sometime in February of this year) published in the Jordanian paper Al-Majd last month, there is an elaborate set of plans for enhancing the strength and reputation of the Abbas group at the expense of the elected Hamas government, and the scheme was exactly the same then as it is now....
The reason these "huge projects" are only being launched now, and not at the time of the February Action Plan could well be this: At the earlier time, it was possibly seen as too difficult to wall off Fatah/Abbas bailiwick from that of Hamas. And on that line of thinking, the Gaza-WestBank split could be seen as representing a positive factor (planned or unplanned) in the overall American/Israeli scheme.
Posted by: Bea | Jun 18, 2007 2:15:46 PM | 4
"The Palestinians are certainly not dumb". Why not?. I think Palestinians are acting as idiots. If they believe in the values of the Homeland and Patriotic figth against their enemies, like all other morons in the world, they get what they plant and grow. Death and Desperation. The actual jews of Israel, at the same time have lose the Admiration and Respect of the honest people of the world. The same can be said for the north-american peole who believe in the force of the guns.
I think the opossite is true. Nobody as your own goverment can do more pain on you and your family. I see the Palestinian and Jews as dumb people, like childs fighting for a broken toy.
I dont know whar to do. Probably the best is do nothing.If the Jews Win at all, the world will lose the memory of past nazi attrocities , and the history, and the stories will change for the worst.
Again and again and again....
Posted by: curious | Jun 18, 2007 4:00:46 PM | 5
from a concert when another wall that was built came down.
better, imo, with Van Morrison.
But there is no comfort in that feeling.
Your lips move but I can't hear what youre saying.
When I was a child I had a fever.
My hands felt just like two balloons.
Now I got that feeling once again.
I can't explain, you would not understand.
This is not how I am.
Posted by: fauxreal | Jun 18, 2007 4:06:28 PM | 6
@curious - I didn't get that rant. Can you explain?
Posted by: b | Jun 18, 2007 4:21:49 PM | 7
let me take a shot b,
nationalism and/or tribalism causes pain and suffering to many people and the benefits are for a select few. The best the masses get out of it is a feeling of belonging and that is either important or else we have been taught that it is important.
if the Palestinians had not opposed their invaders, had they laid down and accepted their fate they would probably be better off even though their spirits would be low to none existent. Ghandi had pretty good luck with non violent resistance.
I disagree with curious's statement that the world will forget about Nazi atrocities. It is enough to watch and listen to US and European coverage of this whole sordid mess. Israel is blameless according to corporate media and are doing their best to protect themselves in face of crazy Islamic terrorists.
Posted by: dan of steele | Jun 18, 2007 4:42:26 PM | 8
I am sorry B. If you think is convenient, pls edit and erase my bad writed rant.
Posted by: curious | Jun 18, 2007 4:45:53 PM | 9
I am sorry B. If you think is convenient, pls edit and erase my bad writed rant.
Posted by: curious | Jun 18, 2007 4:46:50 PM | 10
@curious - this is certainly not about "convinious", I do value your comnments.
But are people "dumb" unless they give in to anyone that claims superiority?
I certainly have a different view on that. Again - I didn't get your comment. Please explain.
Posted by: b | Jun 18, 2007 5:01:13 PM | 11
This is a double edged sword for the Israelis, now they must talk to Abbas and Fatah. Expect a "suicide" attack emanating from the West Bank very shortly.
Posted by: Cloned Poster | Jun 18, 2007 5:27:06 PM | 12
Two excellent historical perspective pieces on this, one from an Israeli, the other from a Palestinian (apologies for the long excerpts but they help to set the developments of the past week in context):
Ilan Pappe: Towards a Geography of Peace: Whither Gaza?
The Gaza Strip is a little bit more than two percent of Palestine. This small detail is never mentioned whenever the Strip is in the news nor has it been mentioned in the present Western media coverage of the dramatic events unfolding in Gaza in the last few weeks. Indeed it is such a small part of the country that it never existed as a separate region in the past. Gaza's history before the Zionization of Palestine was not unique and it was always connected administratively and politically to the rest of Palestine. It was until 1948 for all intents and purposes an integral and natural part of the country. As one of Palestine’s principal land and sea gates to the world, it tended to develop a more flexible and cosmopolitan way of life; not dissimilar to other gateways societies in the Eastern Mediterranean in the modern era. This location near the sea and on the Via Maris to Egypt and Lebanon brought with it prosperity and stability until this life was disrupted and nearly destroyed by the Israeli ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948.
In between 1948 and 1967, Gaza became a huge refugee camp restricted severely by the respective Israeli and Egyptian policies: both states disallowed any movement out of the Strip. Living conditions were already harsh then as the victims of the 1948 Israeli politics of dispossession doubled the number of the inhabitants who lived there for centuries. On the eve of the Israeli occupation in 1967, the catastrophic nature of this enforced demographic transformation was evident all over the Strip. This once pastoral coastal part of southern Palesine became within two decades one of the world's densest areas of habitation; without any adequate economic infrastructure to support it.
The first twenty years of Israeli occupation at least allowed some movement outside an area that was closed off as a war zone in the years 1948 to 1967. Tens of thousand of Palestinians were permitted to join the Israeli labor market as unskilled and underpaid workers. The price Israel demanded for this slavery market was a total surrender of any national struggle or agenda. When this was not complied with -- the 'gift' of laborers' movement was denied and abolished. All these years leading to the Oslo accord in 1993 were marked by an Israeli attempt to construct the Strip as an enclave, which the Peace Camp hoped would be either autonomous or part of Egypt and the Nationalist camp wished to include in the Greater Eretz Israel they dreamed of establishing instead of Palestine.
The Oslo agreement enabled the Israelis to reaffirm the Strip's status as a separate geo-political entity -- not just outside of Palestine as a whole, but also cut apart from the West Bank. Ostensibly, both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank were under the Palestinian Authority but any human movement between them depended on Israel's good will; a rare Israeli trait and which almost disappeared when Benjamin Netanyahu came to power in 1996. Moreover, Israel held, as it still does today, the water and electricity infrastructure. Since 1993 it used, or rather abused, this possession in order to ensure on the one hand the well-being of the Jewish settler community there and on the other in order to blackmail the Palestinian population into submission and surrender. The people of the Gaza Strip thus vacillated in the last sixty years between being internees, hostages or prisoners in an impossible human space.
It is within this historical context that we should view the violence raging today in Gaza and reject the reference to the events there as a campaign in the 'war against terror,' an instance of Islamic revivalism, a further proof for al-Qadia’s expansionism, a seditious Iranian penetration into this part of the world or another arena in the dreaded Clash of Civilizations (I picked here only few out of many frequent adjectives used in the Western media for describing the present crisis in Gaza)....
Karma Nabulsi: The People of Palestine Must Finally Be Allowed to Determine Their Own Fate
How did we get here? The institutions created in occupied Palestine in the 1990s were shaped to bring us to this very point of collapse. The Palestinian Authority, created through negotiations between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organisation in 1993, was not meant to last more than five years - just until the institutions of an independent state were built. Instead, its capacities were frozen and it was co-opted into performing the role of a security agency for the Israelis, who were still occupying Palestine by military force, and serving as a disbursement agency for the US and EU's funding of that occupation. The PA had not attained a single one of the freedoms it was meant to provide, including the most important one, the political liberty of a self-determining sovereign body.
Why did we get here? Once the exact nature of its purpose emerged, the Palestinians began to resist this form of external control. Israel then invaded the West Bank cities again and put President Yasser Arafat's compound under a two-year siege, which ended with his death. Under those conditions of siege the international "reform" process created a new institution of a prime minister's office and attempted to unify the security apparatus under it, rather than that of the president, whom they could no longer control. Mahmoud Abbas was the first prime minister, and the Israeli- and US-backed Fatah strongman, Mohammed Dahlan, was appointed head of security. After the death of Arafat, Abbas was nominated to the leadership of the PLO, and directly elected as the president of the PA.
Arafat had followed the strategy of all successful liberation movements: a combination of resistance and negotiation until the conclusion of a comprehensive peace treaty. Abbas's strategy was of an entirely different order: no resistance in any form and a complete reliance on the good faith of the Israelis. After a year of achieving nothing - indeed Ariel Sharon refused to negotiate with him and Israeli colonisation was intensified - the Palestinian people's support for this humiliating policy of submission wore thin. Hamas, polling about 20% in previous years, suddenly won 43% of the vote in 2006.
This popular reaction was a response to the failure of Abbas's strategy as much as the failure of Fatah to present any plausible national programme whatsoever. The Palestinians thus sought representation that would at least reflect their condition of occupation and dispossession....
The US administration continued to treat Fatah as if it had won the election rather than lost it - funding, arming, and directly encouraging agents within it to reverse the outcome of that democratic election by force....
Posted by: Bea | Jun 18, 2007 7:01:52 PM | 13
This from NPR Radio today:
Rice said the White House will ask Congress to restructure $86 million in aid that had been designated for Abbas' security forces. She also said the U.S. plans to give $40 million to the United Nations to help Palestinians, particularly those in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
Compare this, in both tone and substance, to Bea’s information (post #4) via Badger’s link where: “…it is not allowed to let even one dollar reach the Gaza Strip."
Is this “benevolent” gift of $40 million for Palestinians in Gaza (thru the U.N. as proxy) just more Bush propaganda? What’s up here? Just asking.
Posted by: Rick | Jun 19, 2007 12:18:51 AM | 14
Rick, I'd say the key word in Rice's statement is "plans". The Bush regime had "plans" to spend huge amounts on AIDS prevention and treatment -- and somehow that never happened. Likewise with its "plans" for Millenium Challenge anti-poverty spending.
Between the talk for public consumption and the walk of implementation there's usually a pretty large gap, in any government. Under this regime, it's a freaking chasm.
Posted by: Nell | Jun 19, 2007 8:35:53 AM | 15
I agree - Rice's talk is probably just Bullcrap.
And even if it were to come to pass, for the enormous poverty and the number of people crammed in Gaza (One source on NPR said it was the most densely populated area on earth.), even 40 million ($ U.S.) dollars would not go far. Compare that amount to what the U.S. has given the Israelis.
Posted by: Rick | Jun 19, 2007 11:54:58 AM | 16
US aid to Israel:
Annual amounts since 1948, broken down by type, and total, as reported by the Jewish">http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/US-Israel/U.S._Assistance_to_Israel1.html">Jewish Virtual Library
Analysis and commentary by Miftah, a Palestinian think tank
The Bottom Line: As of 2006, the Israeli population was just over 7 million (of which 80%, or 5.3 million, were Jews, 20% Arabs, and 4% other). Between the years 1949 and 2006, the US has provided a total of nearly $97 billion in aid to Israel, which exceeds that given to all countries of sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean combined, with a total population of about 1.054 billion people. [Source: A paragraph from the Miftah analysis, updated to reflect 2006 figures, except for the other countries' total population, which dates from 1998.]
Posted by: | Jun 19, 2007 2:41:47 PM | 17
Oops that was mine in #17.
Posted by: Bea | Jun 19, 2007 2:45:38 PM | 18
The amount of aid that has been given to Israel is staggering. And when one considers how even the poor here in America are treated (remember Katrina?) it is more than sickening, it is criminal.
Posted by: Rick | Jun 19, 2007 7:44:48 PM | 19
It also makes even more ludicrous the notion that criticizing Israel is verboten. It's the equivalent of saying that we Americans must pour money into a foreign country and singlehandedly sustain it, but then have absolutely no right to speak up when that country abuses basic human rights and oppresses another people on a fairly massive scale. (Of course we are now doing far worse, so we no longer have any right to point the finger at Israel, but for the sake of argument, let's assume we do.) Truly it is mind boggling. How did we let ourselves get manipulated into this trap?
Posted by: Bea | Jun 19, 2007 11:13:53 PM | 20