Jan 5, 2009

Some Back Story on Recent Palestinian History

I have been beset with some very annoying nerve and eye problems over the past week--probably eyestrain—that have limited my time severely on the computer and in my library.

Tonight I am trying a foray onto the computer once again. So I apologize that I have been unable to post some more in the debate on Best of Bloggers that has apparently been touched off by my first post. I am also sorry about some of the virulence that has appeared. Unfortunately, in this political climate, the virulence will out. I am for peace above all, and will continue writing letters to my foolish representatives and continuing to demonstrate here in the area, probably tomorrow and certainly Wednesday as part of a silent candle light vigil in front of the Israeli consulate.

Let me try to refer you to some interesting pieces of background and commentary.

First, let me recall Josh's original entry which I responded to in my first post. In that, Josh suggested that Israel was acting by using the tail-end of George Bush's presidency to cover their actions. With the recent revelations in Ha'aretz that UN Ambassador Khalilzad has been explicitly instructed by the State Department to "torpedo" any Arab bloc resolutions calling for a cease fire, it appears not only that Israel is using Bush, but that the Bush administration in its last days is allowing Israel to continue its aggression. It is the same pattern shown in Lebanon in 2007; the world cries out for a cease fire and the US and the UK did nothing for days but buy time for Israel to strike all over Lebanon, not just in the south.

Josh also suggested that Israel wanted to "clean the slate" and that Obama might well respond negatively to actions carried out by Israel after he takes office. I still hold to that bet with Josh. I don't think the Obama policy will bring the "Change We Can Believe In" to the Middle east. Obama has commented on the Mumbai attacks and on other domestic issues, but he has been hiding behind the catchphrase that there is only one President. His silence, I am afraid, is becoming, in a classic way, complicity.

You may find Gareth Porter's post on the history of the PLO and Hamas since the 2006 election to be of interest. I post it here because we need to keep the background in mind as we are witnessing this continuing onslaught of the Israeli Army into Gaza.

Briefly, Porter reminds us, that Hamas' victory in the Palestinian elections in January of 2006 was met immediately with resistance by the United States, and that rather than trying to work with the government we got, regime change was our tactic. The article is especially interesting because it brings up once again a hot potato of news (that broke in Vanity Fair) that Hamas took over the Gaza strip after it discovered US, Israeli (and probably Egyptian) support for a coup against Hamas. Discovery of that led to Hamas' violent takeover of the Gaza strip and also for Mahmoud Abbas's unconstitutional dissolution of the government.

But that is just history. I have been rereading Gandhi recently, and think of his famous saying, "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind." If in fact you agree with the forces for peace, ceasefire, and negotiation at this point, you will find Norman Solomon's take on this Gandhian saying logical and laudable: "What about a hundred eyes for an eye?" Solomon's piece starts with a reference back to one of my heroes, I.F. Stone, at the time of the 1967 war:

Israelis and Arabs "feel that only force can assure justice," I. F. Stone noted soon after the Six-Day War in 1967. And he wrote: "A certain moral imbecility marks all ethnocentric movements. The Others are always either less than human, and thus their interests may be ignored, or more than human and therefore so dangerous that it is right to destroy them."

In this regard, you may find the analysis of Paul Woodward at War in Context also relevant and stimulating:

Once this is over, will the residents of Sderot be able to slumber peacefully knowing that they live on the doorstep of anarchy?

And when Hamas has finished counting its dead, will those in its ranks who until recently were voices of pragmatism, favoring political engagement, be capable of or even willing to try and make themselves heard?

Let us wish very hard and work very hard for the patience to convince our new American leaders to step in for once, as peacemakers, demand an end to the violence, insist on real negotiations, and begin by insisting that both Hamas and Israel take seriously the Arab State's proposal that has been on the table since 2002, and spurned by Israel and Hamas both.

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