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The bankruptcy of Hamas

April 18th, 2006

The latest terror attack in Israel, and its endorsement by the Hamas party, points up the fact that Hamas is as morally and politically bankrupt as its government will soon be financially bankrupt. This kind of crime cannot be excused or condoned, no matter what the other side has done (for the same reason, I hope that Israel will not retaliate in kind). Considered in terms of its political implications, it only reinforces the logic behind the newly-elected Israeli government’s policies, and the destination to which they point: an imposed settlement based on the wall that is now largely complete, followed by a complete closure of the resulting border. This won’t be a fair or just settlement, but it’s hard to see who will object, given that Hamas opposes any settlement and refuses to negotiate.

More fundamentally, the strategy of terror attacks against Israel has been a disaster for the Palestinian people, particularly over the last decade. Hamas was the leading party pushing Palestinians to reject the Oslo peace process. It’s already clear that no better chance will ever arise for a settlement, and that the eventual outcome, after another decade or more of occupation, will be worse than that on offer from Barak and Clinton.

The only real hope is that the cutoff of funds from the EU and US will bring the unreality of Hamas’ position home to the point where the movement is discredited. Hamas has been promised $50 million by Iran, and Qatar and other states may follow suit, but that won’t last for more than a month or two and it’s unlikely to be followed by more, given that Iran has its own problems.

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  1. Michael H.
    April 19th, 2006 at 18:12 | #1

    On the question of sanctions agianst a Hamas led Govt, I don’t see it as a matter of obligations but about goals. The goal in this action, past whacking Hamas, is obscure. Isolating Hamas may cause the financial collapse of the PA, but the only people this will hurt are ordinary Palestinians who aren’t getting paid and so find themselves in even greater hardship than usual. As I argued earlier, this is more likely to increase Hamas’ popularity than to harm it. The difficult realities and responsibilities of Govt(as they are) are likely to have a much greater salutory effect on Hamas than any US led sanctions.

    And do we want a Hamas that is part of the political process, seeking to implement its goals politically and accepting of democratic processes, or a Hamas again on the outside engaged in violent struggle. Lebanon provides some clues. Hizballah has joined the Govt and now has to consider it position as part of the ruling coalition and seek to serve its constituency via the political process.

  2. jquiggin
    April 19th, 2006 at 20:22 | #2

    Hal9000 – the obvious question is which was better, to accept an inadequately detailed offer, and hope that moral suasion would produce a reasonable outcome, or to reject the offer, with the predictable result of extending the occupation by many years and the likelihood, now a near-certainty, of a worse outcome at the end.

    As regards compensation and return rights, we have the shibboleth problem. If Arafat had asked for, say, $10000 per person as settlement of return claims, he would almost certainly have had the money the next day. But he was unable to do that, essentially because of the pressure from Hamas and other rejectionists not to abandon the shibboleth (maybe he wouldn’t have been able to do it in any case).

    Michael H. The problem is that Hamas is not seeking to implement its goals politically, or at least is seeking to do so while continuing to endorse violent struggle/terrorism. It’s Hamas that has to make the choice here. No doubt this will take the form of the kind of weasel words that we’ve seen from Sinn Fein and others in a similar position (and from Arafat for that matter when he was alive) but they’ll have to produce a form of words that dissociates them from terrorism and expresses a desire for a permanent peace with Israel.

  3. Hal9000
    April 19th, 2006 at 21:18 | #3

    Well yes in parts, Prof Q. The situation in 1999 was that the Palestinians had believed at Oslo that they had made the crucial concession by recognising Israel. However Israel had used the Oslo agreement to expand its colonial project by several orders of magnitude, and to intensify the occupation through carving out settlers-only roads, imposing checkpoints etc.

    As had been seen earlier with the creative interpretation of UNSC 242′s lack of a definite article (meaningless in the original Russian), they had every reason to suspect foul play. During the negotiations at Camp David and Taba the Israelis refused to produce maps showing their position. As I’m sure any town planner could tell you, percentage figures about land are meaningless unless you can show what it would mean on the ground. For example, the 91 percent of the West Bank allegedly on offer (bearing in mind the Palestinians had already conceded 78 percent of their birthright – as they saw it) was meaningless if it meant their nation would have been multisected by roads reserved to Israel.

    I’m not saying the Palestinians don’t need to recognise reality, but I don’t think that we should focus on concessions about recent and unconscionable Israeli thefts, while ignoring the necessity for Israel to give them up in exchange for peace. The record shows that Israel consistently moves the goal posts without ever stating its final position. Perhaps that should be the minimum requirement. After all, noone is threatening Israel’s right to exist. Israel is daily and hourly threatening Palestine, and Palestinians.

  4. observa
    April 19th, 2006 at 21:19 | #4

    str,
    Essentially I have no beef with fanatical belief. If you believe that you’re the fastest runner in the world and that drives you to obtain an Olympic gold medal for the 100 metres, bully for your fanatacism. If you fanatically believe your God has spoken to you to become the best AFL footballer in the land and it drives you to win the Brownlow, so what? However….

  5. observa
    April 19th, 2006 at 21:26 | #5

    How shall I put it to you str? Think of Mother Theresa and Osama and then all of us who fit well inside that spectrum of fanatical belief.

  6. Hal9000
    April 19th, 2006 at 21:37 | #6

    Oh, and BTW, I reiterate that what the Palestinians (and the Saudi plan) have already agreed to is the UNSC 242 solution – withdrawal to the 1967 Green Line and recognition of that as the border. It seems to me the Israelis need to justify why they need more, not the Palestinians.

  7. Terje Petersen
    April 19th, 2006 at 21:41 | #7

    JQ said:-

    Hal9000 – the obvious question is which was better, to accept an inadequately detailed offer, and hope that moral suasion would produce a reasonable outcome, or to reject the offer, with the predictable result of extending the occupation by many years and the likelihood, now a near-certainty, of a worse outcome at the end.

    The offer made at Camp David was not rejected. It was subject to further discussions that following an election in Israel and other complications never eventuated. It is wrong to say that Arafat rejected the offer. It is correct to say that he did not accept it when it was on the table. Had discussions resumed as originally planned it is quite feasable that Arafat would have accepted the offer.

    JQ also said:-

    I don’t accept the argument that the fact of democratic elections obliges foreign countries to provide or continue aid.

    Which I agree with. It is trade sanctions against the people of Palestine that I would object to. The cutting of aid just means Hamas will need to build a tax base (ie promote economic growth).

    Regards,
    Terje.

  8. rabee
    April 19th, 2006 at 22:26 | #8

    John, The right of return is both for male and female decedents of 1948 refugees.

  9. observa
    April 19th, 2006 at 22:40 | #9

    “Oh, and BTW, I reiterate that what the Palestinians (and the Saudi plan) have already agreed to is the UNSC 242 solution – withdrawal to the 1967 Green Line and recognition of that as the border.”

    You don’t say? That wasn’t their preferred position when Nasser pissed off the UN and a million Arab troops were poised on Israel’s pre-67 borders to adjust them to zero. Changed their minds now have they? Sheesh! You might care to give a wee smidgin of credit to Israel for all the post 6 Day War land they did give back in the interests of peace since. Pretty sporting of them under the circumstances.

    “I’m not saying the Palestinians don’t need to recognise reality, but I don’t think that we should focus on concessions about recent and unconscionable Israeli thefts, while ignoring the necessity for Israel to give them up in exchange for peace. The record shows that Israel consistently moves the goal posts without ever stating its final position. Perhaps that should be the minimum requirement. After all, noone is threatening Israel’s right to exist.”

    Hamas, Osama, AmenJihad, ………..Bwahahahahahaha! I think even Professor Quiggin finds it repugnant to be aligned with the anti-Israel mob now. In case you haven’t noticed Hal9000, militant Islam has that effect on all rational infidels after a while. It’s called the survival instinct in case you’ve forgotten.

  10. Katz
    April 19th, 2006 at 23:17 | #10

    Successive Palestinian leaderships have been like the proverbial donkey that starved equidistant between two bales of hay.

    Too often they were tempted with the military solution to the problem of the existence of Israel. The prospects of military success were always illusory, but now they are forelorn. Yet Hamas clings to them.

    Equally, a negotiated settlement always founders on the outrage Palestinians feel at being betrayed and driven into exile. Acceptance of a settlement that concedes homeland and holy places is a death sentence for its signatories.

    No Palestinian leadership has ever found a way of effectively pressuring Israel into concessions acceptable to Israel which are simultaneously acceptable to ordinary Palestinians.

    Israel has grown stronger and more intransigent. Ordinary Palestinians have grown more radical and more desperate.

    The intemperate actions of Palestinians serve only to strengthen Israel.

    But is there any evidence that a Palestinian Gandhi may be more effective at uniting Palestinians in a subtle challenge to Israeli claims beyond the 1948 boundaries, and/or on Israeli property laws that confiscated Palestinians’ title within the 1948 boundaries?

    Could such a Gandhi figure rekindle world sympathy for the Palestinians?

    I doubt it.

    Despair seems appropriate.

  11. Michael H.
    April 19th, 2006 at 23:52 | #11

    JQ,

    I think that there have been significant moves from Hamas; 12 months of a unilateral ceasefire and now the usual contradictory statements, some suggesting the possibility of accepting the 2 state solution, others that suicide bombings wil no longer be used. This is pretty typical of organisation like Hamas moving into the political arena. It’s usually a to-and-froing, slow and infuriating (at least for external observers) process. But keep in mind that Hamas have been leading the PA for all of 6 weeks. I think these need to be acknowledged and encouraged rather than scorned.

    I agree with Hal9000s general sentiments. It seems perverse for such intense focus to be on Palestinian renunciation of violence when the much greater violence of the Israel occupation (40 years next year) is rarely subject to similiar scrutiny.

    However Hal, as strange as it seems, I beleive that it is up to the Palestinians to make the overtures for peace, to convince Israelis that their goal is peaceful co-existence. It’s often the victim who needs to be the first to reach out.

  12. observa
    April 20th, 2006 at 00:04 | #12

    “It seems perverse for such intense focus to be on Palestinian renunciation of violence”… “It’s often the victim who needs to be the first to reach out.”
    Garbage!
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,251-2134917,00.html

  13. derrida derider
    April 20th, 2006 at 00:13 | #13

    Yet more futile argument on Israel/Palestine. I’d just add one thing – the “carefully targeted precision strikes” of the IDF have, as a matter of record, killed about three times the number of civilans as have died in those inexcusable terrorist bombings.

  14. Hal9000
    April 20th, 2006 at 07:03 | #14

    Katz is probably right on the despair front.

    I don’t think it’s too much to ask, though, that we don’t keep treating Israeli spin as fact. With the Road Map as with Oslo, Israel manages to make most in the west believe it is the party complying, while in fact never acting in good faith. At Oslo and with the Road Map, promises to halt and reverse the settlement program are revealed on the ground as an intensified settlement program. The decade between Oslo and the commencement of the second intifada with its horrific suicide bombings was used by Israel to roll out most of the settlements and roads that presage the bantustan future they’ve always had in mind for the Palestinians – although some in the Israeli government favour out and out ethnic cleansing.

    As Gideon Levy noted in Haaretz, the Israeli national dream (shibboleth?) has always been to have the cake (all the land between the Jordan and the Mediterranean) and eat it too (racially pure). Although this goal is in plain view and well on the way to implementation, it never gets discussed. Meanwhile the non-existent military threat to Israel’s existence gets a daily airing.

    The instantaneous withdrawal from the Sinai in 1956 when Eisenhower actually threatened Israel suggests Israel is willing to cooperate if ever the US were to apply pressure. This however seems most unlikely.

    Observa – my survival instinct tells me the most glaringly obvious injustice and cause of conflict in the middle east should be addressed sooner rather than later, or as I imagine you would prefer, never. And I’m not anti-Israel – my position is the same as B’tselem and Gush Shalom – 1967 borders. The alternative is that Israel gets to become a 21st version of Hendrik Woerwoerd’s dream, which in the long run will be a real threat to Israel’s existence.

  15. Majorajam
    April 20th, 2006 at 08:01 | #15

    Hey observa, I’ve got an intifada story for you. Ever here about the West Bank settler who, whilst stepping on a 10 year old Palestinean boy’s throat beat him to death with the butt of a pistol? He got six month’s community service.

    Btw, this business that “the right of return is unacceptable” is difficult to stomach. Israel recruits Jews with homes and lives wherever they live but who’ve never set foot in Israel to take up Israeli citizenship. Meanwhile, it’s too much to ask to allow the guys at the bottom of hill who’s homes were expropriated militarily and with nowhere else to go to return to their former homelands. Oh, and by the way, here’s some raw sewage for your crops.

    Amazing that the Palestineans harbor resentment for Jews, isn’t it?

  16. Michael H.
    April 20th, 2006 at 08:07 | #16

    observa, which bit is garbage? the perversity, or the fact that it the victims, the Palestinians, who probably have to make the running.

    I’m not aying that Palestinian vioence isn’t real, just that the violence of occupation seems to be often overloooked. And that is what a military occupation is – violence, daily systemic violence against the entire civilian population. Occupations don’t run on flowers and group hugs.

  17. wilful
    April 20th, 2006 at 09:21 | #17

    people really need to learn some history and leave islam out of this. Up until the mid-80s, the palestinian movement was decidedly secular. Only with the rise of Hamas has islam been a mainstream thread in palestinian politics.

  18. Chris C
    April 20th, 2006 at 09:38 | #18

    Much commentary here condemns the Palestinians for resorting to violence to regain what was lost to them.

    Well, the simple fact is that the Palestinians did not engage in significant attacks against civilians until the second intifida in the late 1990s.

    That is over 50 years since 1948.

    The Palestinians did not conduct the wars of 67 or 73 – other Arab states with their own agendas did.

    During that whole period, the Palestinians suffered continued expropriation, and an increasingly brutal occupation.

    The Palestinians were one again the losers from Jordan’s occupation of the West Bank and its subsequent defeat by Israel.

    So all this hoping for a Palestinian Gandhi is 50 years too late – the West has had its chance to enforce its own UN resolutions on Israel and restore some justice to the Palestinians.

    I do not condone violence against civilians by anone, but I am really not surprised by the Palestinians eventual resort to it. What shocks me is that the world makes a distinction between it and Israel’s much greater killing of Palestinan civilians, ostensibly as ‘collateral damage’.

    The indiscriminate killing of civilians is as morally indefensible as their deliberate targetting as far as I am concerned.

    And the hypocrisy of dismissing the Palestinians’ right of return whilst accepting Israel’s is again one-sided and disgusting – particularly given that most of the beneficiaries are descendants of Khazars who have no connection to the land.

    Further, the fact that a convert to Judaism can exercise a right to Israeli citizenship, but that a Palestinian whose family has lived there for hundreds of years cannot makes recent analaogies with South Africa completely appropriate.

  19. still working it out
    April 20th, 2006 at 09:44 | #19

    I really get tired of the double standards on this.

    Why isn’t Israel asked to renounce “transfer” (ie ethnic cleansing) and prove its committment by not allowing advocates of it into the Israeli cabinet?

    Why isn’t giving up a policy of political assination with indiscriminate civilian casualites a pre-requisite for Israel recieving continued foreign aid from the US?

    I also get tired of people who believe that if the Palestinians would just give up violence things would suddenly start getting better. Are you blind to the cynicism with which the Netanyahu government used the Oslo process? The Palestinians have a choice between violent resistance and meekly accepting a status as semi-citizens of a semi-state. I don’t believe the violence will get them anywhere, but why anyone would advocate they negotiate and then sign off on their own Apartheid style imprisonment is beyond me.

  20. Chris C
    April 20th, 2006 at 09:51 | #20

    And now, with Olmert’s proposed annexation of the Jordan Valley, any potential Palestinian “state” is completely encircled, like most of the original Bantustans, making the analogy with apartheid complete.

  21. Katz
    April 20th, 2006 at 10:02 | #21

    More hands have been wrung over the rights and wrongs of actors in the Palestinian tragedy than over virtually any other issue.

    Everyone has her pet concern and pet stimulus for outrage.

    The issue is a just peace.

    Peace will be achieved only if one or both of the parties in the conflict relinquish some long-held and fervently espoused positions.

    As I mentioned Gandhi, Chris C, I presume the following comment was addressed to me:

    “So all this hoping for a Palestinian Gandhi is 50 years too late – the West has had its chance to enforce its own UN resolutions on Israel and restore some justice to the Palestinians.”

    Attentive reading of my comment should reveal that I neither hope for nor expect the emergence of a Palestinian Gandhi.

    Enforcement of those UN resolutions also seems to be a forelorn hope until the US changes its stance on Israel. And I don’t see that happening any time soon. The GWOT has made a US change of heart less likely. Even if the US were to retreat into isolationism, I predict that the Israel lobby in the US is powerful enough to have Israel considered a special case for US support and intervention.

    It is noteworthy that an unjust peace may involve ethnic cleansing of Palestinians by Israel. This seems highly unlikely. The humanitarian impulse is strong within Israeli society. And the US electorate may well be outraged as well.

    Thus, no unjust peace and no just peace seems likely.

    Hence despair.

  22. Michael H.
    April 20th, 2006 at 10:34 | #22

    “I also get tired of people who believe that if the Palestinians would just give up violence things would suddenly start getting better.”

    swio, I understand the frustration, but you’re wrong. A purely non-violent approach would make the situation for Palestinians less-worse. I’m not saying that the settlements would disappear and the occupation end, or even that Israeli violence would stop – it won’t. But Israel would find it far more difficult to hind behind ‘terror’ as the all purpose justification for any and all acts.

    Palestinians have learnt an important lesson; making Israelis pay a price is the only way to get their attention. When the situation was mostly quiet in the OTs in the 70′s and early 80′s, the Palestinians weren’t on the radar, there was no real Israeli ‘peace camp’, no thought of leaving the OTs.

    Unfortunately they leant the wrong lesson – that it should be a price in blood. Israel is acutely sensitive to its international reputation. This is were Palestinians can ‘hurt’ Israel and where it should be made to pay such a high price that it finally submits to a just solution. There are small Palestinian groups who are doing exactly this, but they hardly get any attention over the media preference for the ‘if it bleeds it leads’ style of news.

    There is hope here, but that doesn’t exclude regular immersion in the ocean of despair.

  23. Chris C
    April 20th, 2006 at 11:03 | #23

    Unfortunately for both Palestinians and Israelis, Michael H, you are wrong. Non-violence failed to achieve anything for the Palestinians for over 40 years, except more colonies and more Israeli brutality.

    Israel actually cares nothing for its international reputation – and why should it when it is obstinately defended by the US every time.

    Israel has flaunted UN resolutions and international law since its existence, carried on a brutal occupation, annexed the OT and maintained Jerusalem as its capital despite complete international non-recognition, and established an apartheid state.

    What evidence have you that Israel cares one jot about its international reputation?

  24. Chris C
    April 20th, 2006 at 11:09 | #24

    As a follow-up to my last, the Palestinians learned exactly the right lesson from the last half-century:

    That Israel has become a predominantly racist nation that does not recognise the Palestinian’s humanity, and that only responds to brute force.

    When previous societies have regressed to this state (South Africa, Nazi Germany) the world has rightly been outraged and intervened.

    Unfortunately these days, such intervention is haphazard for various reasons ie intervention in Bosnia and Somalia, not in Darfur or Rwanda

  25. still working it out
    April 20th, 2006 at 11:25 | #25

    Chris C,

    Israel cares about its internation reputation enormously, but largely in a transactional manner. It is very dependent on international support. Obviously from the US, but implicitly from other countries too. If its reputation falls to the level of South Africa, for example, they could end up facing international economic sanctions which would be far more disastrous for them than it was for SA. Simple things like bans on direct flights from Europe to Israel would hurt it enormously.

    When it carried out the actions you describe it did so carefully weighing up the cost/benefit in terms of international opinion. Israel is unpopular, but not ostracised and that is something that Israel is very concious of and careful to not let detiorate.

  26. Katz
    April 20th, 2006 at 11:26 | #26

    Arab nationalist and Islamic regimes in the Middle East have used the Palestinians for their own international, domestic and cosmic purposes. Continued suffering of the Palestinians stimulates Arab and Islamic outrage at Israel and its major benefactor and away from the powers that be in Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt and elsewhere.

    These regimes have encouraged confrontation and rejectionism. Palestinians embrace the martyr’s crown thrust at them by their Arab and Islamic “friends”.

    Despair deepens.

  27. Chris C
    April 20th, 2006 at 11:35 | #27

    Katz,

    Agreed, but this focus on the surrounding countries ignores completely the elephant in the room – the ongoing, increasingly brutal occupation.

    Sure the Arab countries have thumbed their nose at the Palestinians, but frankly, it is not their problem exclusively. The expropriation of the Palesitinians is the WORLD’s problem.

    I understand you are just calling it as it is rather than taking a side, but I too am sick of all the hurdles placed on the Palestinians by the world before they will help them regain their universally-agreed (sans Israel, US) rights.

  28. still working it out
    April 20th, 2006 at 12:02 | #28

    Michael H,

    I agree with you in theory, but having thought about it long and hard I think that in practice it won’t work. If there was a strong Palestinian non-violence movement, and if it was able to put a halt to terrorist attacks then Israel really would be in a lot of trouble. Running over groups of women and children with bulldozers to build a Jew only road is only going to do one thing to Israel’s critical overseas support.

    But its not like Israel’s leaders are not aware of this either.

    When you look at previous successful modern non-violent movements such as the revolution to remove Milosovic in Serbia you start to realise that they are very difficult things to put together, and depend on very smart use of media resources. There are difficult practical problems like controlling your own violent extremist and to get large number’s of people to believe that putting their lives on the line will acheive something.

    I am pretty sure that if it looked like the Palestinians were going to get a non-violence movement going Israel would pull out all stops to end it quickly. And they have a lot of options. They could provoke terrorist organisations into breaking the ceasefire. We already saw that happen when they assinated leaders of Hamas during the “hudna” negotiations. They could release Palestinian advocates of terrorism from prison to counter the non-violent leaders. They could arrest the non-violent leaders which I believe they did during the 1980′s intifada. They could shutdown their broadcast stations and newspapers and fund their Palestinian opponents. They could plant provateurs in non-violent protests and make the protest violent. They could even run false flag terrorist attacks on Israel. On top of this the Palestinian territories are quite small with a population that is small enough for Israel to have enough intelligence resources to monitor the political situation there quite closely. The key thing here is that I believe that Israel’s leaders are smart enough, and cynical enough and well resourced enough to do all these things. Sharon openly said that Gaza was to be kept as, essentially, a violent prison to be a constant justification for denying Palestinians their own state. Netanyahu worked with Oslo process while seeking to end it. They are that cynical.

    When you look at Ghandi’s Indian indepedence movement and the Civil Rights movement in the US you realise that they were critically dependent on their opponents having some sort of moral restraint that would stop them doing all the above things, or at least stop them enough to allow the non-violent movement to be successful. I don’t think that Israel’s moral line is tight enough to allow a Palestinian non-violence movement to be successful.

    I’m not completely convinced that a non-violence movement would not improve things, but weighing it all up its hard to see how it could be successful.

  29. observa
    April 20th, 2006 at 12:07 | #29

    First the IRA and finally John Quiggin jumps ship here and still they don’t get it.

  30. Hal9000
    April 20th, 2006 at 12:57 | #30

    Somehow I think neither appeals to Israel’s concerns for international reputation nor non-violent action have much chance of success. The following from 19 May 2004 BBC news…

    “Israelis fire on crowds in Gaza

    “Dozens of injured were carried to hospital
    Israeli troops have opened fire during a protest by Palestinian demonstrators in the town of Rafah in southern Gaza.
    At least 10 people were killed and 60 injured, though some reports put the number of casualties higher.

    “The army expressed deep sorrow for the loss of innocent life, but said tanks and a helicopter had fired warning shots to stop crowds entering the area.

    “US President George W Bush called for restraint from both sides and said he had asked Israel for “clarification”. ”

    As Katz says, despair…

  31. Katz
    April 20th, 2006 at 12:58 | #31

    “I don’t think that Israel’s moral line is tight enough to allow a Palestinian non-violence movement to be successful.”

    It would certainly be more difficult to appeal to humanitarian impulses of Israelis now than fifteen years ago. Palestinian tactics are partially responsible for growing Israeli intransigence. The demography of Israel with the immigration of Oriental and Russian Jews has diluted the original stock of socialist zionists who were the habitual supporters of the now much diminished Israel Labor Party. New groups tend to be chauvinist or religious zealots.

    Overarching all of this is the fact that, unlike the British in India, Israelis have an enormous emotional attachment to “their” land. For the British in India home was somewhere else. For White segregationists in the US South desegregation meant they had to pee next to Blacks, not give up their homes.

  32. Simonjm
    April 20th, 2006 at 13:14 | #32

    Yes observa we just don’t get it that an oppressed people should accept occupation, oppression, injustice, often by those same hypocrites who justify invasion of Iraq on moral grounds freeing them from a oppression, human rights abuse etc etc.

    Shouldn’t expect too much from a crowd that turns a blind eye to human rights abuses by the US while condemning others for doing the same thing.

    Historians will likely look back once they are out of the cultural and political dominance of the US and the West & wonder at this hypocrisy especially coming from countries like the US and Australia that only came about by the theft of land and marginalization of the original inhabitants.

    In this light we have Israel doing the exact same thing occupy oppress, marginalize; make it untenable that it can be rolled back and claim moral superiority with some PR spin.

    Spare me your moral rationalizations and cultural bias some of us don’t by BS.

  33. Chris C
    April 20th, 2006 at 13:37 | #33

    SWIO,

    As Hal9000 points out with a fairly routine example of the IDFs conduct, I remain convinced that international opinion (ex-US) is irrelevant to Israel.

    Up until a few years ago, the EU, Russia, China, most of Africa and all Arab and Muslim countries regularly criticised Israel’s occupation, but the colonisation and occupied proceeded unabated.

    I would even suggest that at this point, complete economic sanctions and ostracism would have no impact EVEN if the US joined in.

  34. Chris C
    April 20th, 2006 at 13:42 | #34

    Observa,

    If you are suggesting from a realpolitik perspective that the worst elements of Israel have or will eventually win, I would agree with you – unfortunately they are in too powerful a position at this stage.

    However, this is a cause for sadness and despair, not smug satisfaction as you appear to have. Unfortunately the victims, both Israelis and Palestinians have been far too many.

    Besides which, you forget that the IRA only succeeded in getting where it did because of violence – it is a real shame it has to come to that, in any situation.

  35. still working it out
    April 20th, 2006 at 13:49 | #35

    The current situation is stalemated. But what Israel doesn’t really want to accept is that the Palestinians are not going anywhere. The only solutions for Israel are two real states or genocide.

    When the balance of power between the Arab states and Israel evens up the situation will change. There are several hundred million Arabs but only 6 million Israeli’s. It won’t take much Arab improvement for there to be economic, political and military parity. Eventually there will be a tipping point where the surrounding Arab states will be able to exert so much pressure that Israel will want the conflict over more than the Palestinians. Probably by then there will be so many Palestinians that they will be the ones calling for a single state solution, so long as its genuinely democratic. They could then change its name by referendum to Palestine and declare victory. Israeli’s will wish it had taken the two state solution when they had the chance.

  36. smiths
    April 20th, 2006 at 14:03 | #36

    observa,
    not to dispute the facts of the times story you cite,
    i really think you should ponder the sources a bit,
    times is owned by murdoch, murdoch is pro-war and very anti-arab,
    you will find plenty of stories like that one that mean nothing,
    another to watch out for at the moment is any paper owned by hollinger international,
    currently controlled by richard perle and henry kissinger

  37. April 20th, 2006 at 15:02 | #37

    Terje, (at reply no. 9), another possibility is both nations destroyed. That would certainly be far more convenient all round for the rest of the world.

    Majorajam, it is wrong to look at the Ulster situation through the lens of a colonialist analysis. Ulster protestants are not motivated by a wish to remain masters (over others) so much as inhabitants (displacing others).

    Terje, England never did actually invade Ireland. What happened was, various waves of consolidation and retrenchment followed each other, all stemming from a historical presence in Ireland that was actually inherited from the Normans.

    The first Normans in Ireland didn’t invade, they infiltrated, and then the King of England in his capacity of Duke of Normandy tried to control them (not the Irish). This wasn’t just from a motive of maintaining control, but to stop Ireland becoming a potential base for hostile operations in England. This control succeeded, but at the price of securing their control over the Irish.

    About the only military operation you can call an invasion of Ireland was under Cromwell, but that was directed against Royalist forces rather than against the Irish proper – although later operations after the landings were largely directed against Irish forces.

    England’s and Ireland’s fates were entangled from early on (think where and how the Irish got St. Patrick). It’s as useful to say that England had no business in Ireland as to say that Ireland had no business in England – the Irish helped the Welsh raid Hereford shortly before the Norman Conquest. Not that the English had any business in Hereford either, or indeed any part of England, if you trace it back far enough.

  38. observa
    April 20th, 2006 at 15:26 | #38
  39. Michael H.
    April 20th, 2006 at 15:27 | #39

    “Unfortunately for both Palestinians and Israelis, Michael H, you are wrong. Non-violence failed to achieve anything for the Palestinians for over 40 years, except more colonies and more Israeli brutality.
    Israel actually cares nothing for its international reputation – and why should it when it is obstinately defended by the US every time.
    Israel has flaunted UN resolutions and international law since its existence, carried on a brutal occupation, annexed the OT and maintained Jerusalem as its capital despite complete international non-recognition, and established an apartheid state.
    What evidence have you that Israel cares one jot about its international reputation? “

    Chris C, I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree. But even Palestinian proponents of a non-violent approach concede that they were too quick to give up when they failed to achieve their aims. And lets just be clear; a non-violent strategy isn’t just the absence of armed struggle and sitting back waiting for someone else to rescue you, it’s an active strategy of undermining the occupation at its weakest point and winning support amongst Israelis.

    swio is pretty much right on the matter of Israels concern for it’s reputation. The evidence is the huge resources (time, money and people) Israel puts into its’ information campaigns. Ask any journalist who’s been based in Jerusalem. They receive a steady stream of emails filling their inboxs deluging them with stories, explanations and facts and figures from the Israeli perspective. Need any fact about Israel and Israeli PR types will get it in an instant. Well-educated fluent English speaking spokespeople are on hand to answer questions and provide information. Tours and visits to sites of terrorist attacks and interviews with victims and their families can be arranged. And in the US, sponsored tours of Israel for members of Congress, students, opinion-makers etc, have long been routine.

    Israel learnt a lot from the outbreak of the first intifada. Images of soldiers shooting kids throwing rocks could be very damaging, leading to all sorts of unwanted pressures. And this is the main thrust of Israels concern for its image; not necessarily to just block the images, but to provide the Israeli narrative that contextualises these images in a way that serve Israeli interests. Tanks in the streets of Ramallah? – that is retaliation, a pin-point prevention, an anti-terror exercise, rooting out terrorist nests and ticking bombs. Terror, terror, terror, nevermind the daily terror for Palestinians. This is, in part, how Israel protects its reputation; set the terms of the debate. And Hamas etc have done all they can to make this a success. So in the word association game, if you say ‘Palestinian’, what is the first word most Americans think of?

    Israel has to engage in the battle of ideas because the Palestinian cause is a just one, one that naturally stirs the sympathy of most people who actually know what it is. Israel has to eclipse the Palestinian narrative – not a hard job, given the monumental incompetence on the Palestinian side in this regard.

  40. Michael H.
    April 20th, 2006 at 15:38 | #40

    swio,

    You give a pretty compelling list of the kind of actions Israel could use to subvert a non-violent movement. And what’s more I think they have already used them all, except one.

    There are two fairly simple, but I believe utterly compelling, reasons that the non-violent approach must be taken.

    1. It is the morally correct approach. The killing of innocent people on either side is unjustifiable. The Palestinians have a just cause best served by just means. I’m not saying that this ensures success, just that success or failure is irrelevent to the choice of means.
    But even if you don’t agree with this,
    2. The ‘balance of terror’; Israel is far superior. Resort to arms will guarantee death and misery for Palestinians.

  41. Herindoors
    April 20th, 2006 at 15:55 | #41

    On behalf of my late father I thank you for this thread. Dad, as a young British mounted military policeman spent a few years of WW11 in the British Mandated Territory of Palestine. Attached to the Palestinian Camel Corp., as an RSM, he and his men were treated with such courtesy and he grew to highly respect and regard Palestinian Muslims, avidly learning about their culture and their language – in his later life as a police officer in England he was one of very few who could speak Arabic. He would often tell us kids tales of the generosity and many kindnesses of desert Sheiks, farmers, shepherds and orchardists, when the Corps were out on patrol.

    Later, also of the times he was required to investigate the Zionist/terrorist Irgun, Stern and Haganah gangs terrible bloody attacks on Palestinian villages. They killed indiscriminately countless men, women and children, destroying their homes, animals and crops. They also killed British military policemen (some by garotting), and Dad lost quite a few friends and colleagues in the bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in 1946, much to his lasting grief.

    I believe we can all understand why postwar America, Briton and European politicians were so keen to get an Israel solution for the survivors of the Holocaust – nimbys all. Or indeed, why European Jewry wanted so much for a place of their own, and would then defy anyone in hanging on to it.

    But also surely no-one in their right mind would expect the Palestinians to just quietly give away their homes and country – for the sake of a neat holocaust survivor solution that was never of their making – and head off without a fight; no matter how long it takes.

    Observa wouldn’t hand over his castle without a fight believe me!! And judging by the way he writes, he wouldn’t resile from laying a few bombs along the way, even if it was only to make a point.

    Let us all remember, the Palestinians that remain in what is left of their homeland, which is less than 22% of what they had in early 1948, and had had landrights to for thousands of years, are being daily slit up a treat. For every Israeli killed (which I do not condone in any way), at least 3 Palestians are killed – many of them children. Except they get killed by arms-length gunship fired rockets; army snipers; spooked Israeli soldiers; and settlers (who are often seeking subsidised housing, and/or are believers in the old testament map of Judea and will brook no argument); or get crushed by falling masonary/homes etc. etc. But who cares, they are only the suspect Oriental ‘Other’, with whom, apparently it would be a good idea to do away with, otherwise they will only do away with ‘us’. What bollocks!

    What to do? Like many of you I despair, but at least here so many of you have given them a guensey. Thanks.

  42. Ros
    April 20th, 2006 at 16:36 | #42

    IHT April 20 reports.
    “The Jordanian government spokesman, Nasser Joudeh, told the Petra news agency that the Hamas weapons cache, which was found at an undisclosed site in Jordan, included rocket launchers, explosives and automatic weapons. Jordanian newspapers ran front-page photos of the weapons on Wednesday.

    “These activities contradict the positive commitment by the new Palestinian government not to use the Jordanian arena for any purposes that harm Jordan’s security or for meddling in its internal affairs,” Joudeh was quoted as saying Tuesday.

    Zahar planned to visit Jordan this week as part of his current tour of Arab states. He is seeking money for the Palestinian Authority government, which faces a worsening financial crisis since Hamas, a radical Islamic group, assumed power last month�

    Hamas needs money badly.The Arab League has offered enough dough for a month, a number of rich Arab states are holding back because of Hamas’s position. The only loud voice offering money is Iran and that is both yet to happen and causing anger amongst poor Iranians. Now they have really pissed off Jordan, and another opportunity for finance goes bad.

    So what would ending violence with Israel do? Generate jobs and income. Palestinian workers in Israel did provide a substantial stimulus to the Palestinian economy in the past.

    “Prior to the outbreak of the second intifada in 2000, 22 percent of employed Palestinians worked in Israel or in Israeli settlements. While these numbers dwindled during the intifada, the World Bank estimated that in 2005 a daily average of 44,800 Palestinians, primarily from the West Bank, worked in Israel: 7,400 held Israeli papers or foreign passports, 18,800 were legal workers, and 18,600 worked illegally. These numbers do not include East Jerusalem ID holders whose number has remained steady over the last five years. Taken together, these West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem workers constituted 10 percent of all employed Palestinians and earned 12 percent of Palestinian incomes. “

    And the World Bank has estimated that every additional 10,000 Palestinians allowed to work in Israel would generate $120 million for the Palestinian economy and increase the GNI by 2.5 percent. However since March the 11 Palestinians have been barred from entering Israel and the latest bombing should ensure a continuation of that policy. Now Israel is saying it will eliminate all Palestinian guest worker permits by 2007.

    Can see a lot of advantages for Palestinian people in the cessation of violence by terrorists against Israeli people.

  43. Glenn Condell
    April 20th, 2006 at 16:56 | #43

    Ros

    do you have shares in the IHT? Have you ever entertained an opinion not approved therein?

    ‘Can see a lot of advantages for Palestinian people in the cessation of violence by terrorists against Israeli people.’

    Can see a lot of advantages for Israeli people in the cessation of illegal occupation by settlers of Palestinian land.

    Which came first Ros, the occupation or the bombs? Which causes which Ros? Where, in light of this consideration, does primary responsibiity lie Ros?

    No checking in the IHT.

  44. April 20th, 2006 at 20:47 | #44

    This won’t be a fair or just settlement, but it’s hard to see who will object, given that Hamas opposes any settlement and refuses to negotiate.

    There really is no justice or fairness in the distribution of sovereignty or property. It is mostly historical or geographical luck or brute facts which determine where most borders are drawn. More contingency than equity.

    The best way to pre-empt conflict is to have a settled distribution from the outset and maintain some kind of proper due process to cope with change.

    Obviously the Israelis were the guilty party who upset the modern Middle Eastern settlement. Equally obviously the worthy party who most wanted to end the conflict once they had got what they wanted.

    Hamas refuse to accept the legitimacy of any bilateral or multilateral due process to resolve conflicting property and sovereignty claims. Israel refuse to acknowledge Hamas’ attempt to delegitimise the Israeli state. When an irresistable force meets and immovable object…

    Israel will not lose since it is the hegemonial regional military power. Therefore Israel will wage war and build walls until Hamas is exhausted. Plenty of Israeli smart bombs and plenty of Hamas suicide bombers.

    Sectarian geo-politics are not fair, they are fatal.

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