Sunday, January 29, 2006

The Hamas victory

Four things about the Hamas victory:

  1. What did people think was going to happen to Hamas? As long as there is an Israeli occupation, Hamas is going to be around. It isn't going to magically disappear. It could be around as an armed resistance movement, or it could be around as part of a formal political process. All resistance movements at some point have to make that transition, and surely it is better to make it sooner rather than later. As the expression goes, it's better to have them inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in. They've had a bit of a free ride up until now, allowing the Palestinian Authority to make all the difficult decisions while they sat back and posed as heroes. Now that they have to take responsibility for making difficult - some would say impossible - political decisions, they will lose some of their halo, and become just another political party. All this is part of the normalization of politics in the Palestine. As a bonus, the election of Hamas will finally put pressure on the Palestinian Authority to reform its own corruption. Isn't it the Americans who are always telling us about the virtues of competition?

  2. Needless to say, Israel and the United States have taken this opportunity to assert once again that they don't intend to negotiate with terrorists. As always, Israel has no 'negotiating partner'. This would be a much stronger argument if Olmert, just before the election which he assumed the PA was going to win, hadn't announced, with much fanfare, the continuation of Sharon's unilateral policies in the Occupied Territories. In other words, the election of Hamas has nothing to do with Israeli unilateralism, and Hamas just another Israelamerican excuse to avoid real negotiating. The funny thing about the Olmert speech is that it was universally spun as a concession by Israel to 'give up' land, rather than what it really was, an assertion that he would continue Sharon's policy of unilaterally seizing Palestinian land to which Israel has no legal claim.

  3. Bush is now looking even sillier than usual, with his hollow promises to bring 'democracy' to the Middle East. Israel obviously wanted an excuse to cancel these elections, and the Palestinian Authority would also have been glad for a delay, but Bush's need for another election to make up for the debacle of the results of the Iraqi election meant that the Americans, for once, forced Israel to allow the elections to proceed (although voting in Jerusalem was a joke, and one has to wonder whether the Israelis unintentionally threw the election to Hamas). Bush has now completely revealed his hand by insisting that the election doesn't count unless one particular side wins. Bush's view of democracy is very Humpty Dumpty:

    "'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less.'

    'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you CAN make words mean so many different things.'

    'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master - - that's all.'"

    Bush's 'democracy' has been proven to be a complete sham.

  4. Hamas is being described as a 'terrorist' group by all the media, which is completely misleading. They are an army of national liberation against a brutal and completely illegal Israeli occupation. The Palestinian people are completely entitled under international law to resist the occupation, and Hamas is the military heart of that resistance. Israel has absolutely no right to occupy the land of the Palestinian nation. Who is the real 'terrorist'?

Israel originally supported Hamas as a way to limit the power of Arafat, much like the CIA supported the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1950's in order to limit the political power of Nasser. Both these clever moves have backfired. The Muslim Brotherhood now manifests itself as al Qaeda, and Hamas has become one of the most successful national resistance movements in the world. Hamas forced the Israelis out of Gaza, and probably has kept the Palestinian people from being wiped off the map. The fact that Israel is again using the threat of Hamas as a way to avoid negotiating is irrelevant, as Israel would find any excuse to avoid negotiating. The resistance will continue until Israel does the only possible thing it can do, which is engage in a negotiated settlement acceptable to the Palestinian people leading to a full Palestinian state. The election of Hamas is a step in the right direction.