Coward Old Universe…

by Jeremy G.

Posts Tagged ‘Hamas’

The end of Palestine?

Posted by Jeremy Ghez on June 27, 2007

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Who’s fault is it? That’s an issue that has come up repeatedly. Bret Stephens probably provides the best answer in the Wall Street Journal today, but says little about the future. He only points out a fact that scares a whole lot of people: The very notion of Palestine might have died with Hamas’s coup two weeks ago.

If little is said about the future, it is most certainly because the West finds itself in a very unpleasant situation. First, the U.S., and George W. Bush, who advocated a profound change in Palestinian politics back in 2003, actively participated in Arafat’s estrangement, and was the first – and rightfully so – to denounce Hamas’s win in January 2006. So, back to square one and support for the PA? Strange situation, as Robert Satloff points out.

Next in line in this unpleasant situation is the European Union, who accepted the U.S.’s condemnation – and rightfully so – of Hamas, but must now face the monstrous dilemma it created: Choose between corruption and terrorism, knowing that the first nourishes the second. Voices are speaking out, including this one in France – although with a taint of distasteful moral relativism, as Israel, Iran and Hamas are treated on the very same level, but then again, this is the Quai d’Orsay talking… Now, Europe must deal with decades of inaction in the region. Lebanon, under Syrian rule, was the first issue to blow up in our faces. Palestine is second.

So… Where do we go from now? Historical irony let this period coincide with Blair’s departure from Downing Street. My intuition is that Blair‘s legacy will be openness to act on the international stage, and not accept historical fatalism – although some time will need to fly by before he is actually granted such legacy. It’s almost a shame that his departure coincides with Sarkozy’s arrival, as one would have liked to see how the two men’s international willingness – on the issues of Darfur and the European Construction for instance – would have been combined in practice.

But, in all likelihood, Blair will not disappear, and be named the Quartet‘s Ambassador in the Middle East. Perhaps this will be a way for the West to intervene directly in Palestine, and not let “fate” decide what occurs. And perhaps this will avoid today’s dilemma, because it is reasonable to believe that we – Palestinians included – do not need to choose between corruption and terrorism.

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Posted in International Willingness, Middle East, World Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

War in Gaza

Posted by Jeremy Ghez on June 19, 2007

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Two schools of thoughts compete to explain Hamas’ takeover of the Gaza Strip last week. On the one hand, many commentators and militants of the Palestinian cause indicate that the recent events were inevitable, given the state of the asphixiation – the recurrent “Gaza is an open-sky prison” argument. On the other, many more commentators in the West point out that given the nature of terrorist movement Hamas, it’s almost surprising that this military coup did not occur earlier.

Beyond this – yet again – classic split, there are two observations that must be made. 

Fouad Ajami sums up best the first observations:

The political maxim that people get the leaders they deserve must be reckoned too cruel to apply to the Palestinians. Before Hamas, for four decades, the vainglorious Yasir Arafat refused to tell his people the basic truths of their political life. Amid the debacles, he remained eerily joyous; he circled the globe, offering his people the false sense that they could be spared the consequences of terrible decisions.

In fact, there is a disturbing gap with regards to the way the Palestinian élite has been treated by the international community and the effective benefits the Palestinian population has drawn from international support.  The outbreak of violence between Fatah and Hamas last week was the result of a decade-long practice of corruption and disregard for fellow citizens on the part of the Palestinian Authority.  As resentment grew stronger, it became increasingly harder for the Palestinian authority to check the discontent.  The longer one prevents an abscess from bursting, the more painful it is when this actually occurs.  Hamas‘ victory in the January 2006 elections was just a first step.

The second lesson is fairly obvious one, but seems to be systematically forgotten throughout the Middle East and in Europe: Violent groups are a threat to everyone in the long run, even to those who harbor them.  Like Lebanon with Hezbollah, Palestine is paying the hard price for composing with Hamas and following the oldest – yet faulty – maxim in the book that the “enemy of my enemy is my friend”.  Leaving such groups as Hezbollah and Hamas develop just weakened the states that habored them, as well as the neighboring countries that allowed for this to happen – Egypt being first in line. 

By the way, from this perspective, the  “Gaza is an open-sky prison” argument is a fairly interesting one: Doesn’t it entail an equal responsability for both Israel and Egypt?  Such a reality has been poorly relayed recently, as no emphasis has been put on the very low level of help provided in general by Arab states to the Palestinians.  It is really hard in this context to believe that the Palestinian people has what it deserves.

Posted in Israel, Palestine, World Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »