Extremists and Moderates

Politicians, media and public opinion in the west have a static view of what is extremism and what is moderation. They have decided that Hamas is an extremist organization and that everybody in Israel is coinsidered as 'moderate'. Meanwhile, nobody is talking about the success of the extremist russian party Israel Beiteinu (Israel our Home) who will likely join the next Israeli government.
Since its election, Hamas has been sending positive messages to the international community but the international community rushed to condemn and cut ties and aid. Nobody condemned nor will condemn the presence in the Knesset and the likely presence in the next government of Israeli extremists who advocate the expulsion of all Israeli arabs from Israel. These Israelis extremists came recently from Russia to settle illegaly on Palestinian land with the blessing of the Israeli political elite and the international community, by the only virtue and right that they are Jews, a right refused to palestinians living outside the territories.

And it is symptomatic, in my opinion, that Olmert is determined to include Israel Beiteinu in his government because he already decided that he is not going to talk to Hamas.


Gert said...

"And it is symptomatic, in my opinion, that Olmert is determined to include Israel Beiteinu in his government because he already decided that he is not going to talk to Hamas."

Perhaps. But Olmert is a tactician. We'll have to see how the Government formation pans out.

Personally I'm convinced Hamas must recognise Israel's right to exist although it would be fair to include a number of caveats and conditions in such a declaration. Without such recognition, no progress is possible. Their fear of getting nothing in return is understandable but right now they aren't getting anything either. When the PLO made such a move, at least some progress was made. It would also make it easier for European Governments and the EU to apply pressure on Israel.

The recent statements Hamas have made are a step in the right direction but their words remain too ambiguous for the Israeli general public to understand. Reading their statements is about as easy as reading tealeaves.

The "final solution" of unilaterally defined borders must be avoided at all cost, I believe it would throw the conflict into a renewed phase of intensified violence and counter-violence for possibly decades.

Sophia said...


If Hamas is still ambiguous about the recognition of Israel it is because the Fatah got nothing from it. When the time for real negociations and real concessions on the Israeli side came, Barak marched backward and Sharon took over to break the will of the palestinians by Making their lives miserable, identifying them with terrorrits and 'putting the peace process in Formaldehyde'. This last charcterisation was that of his FM Dov Weissglass who declared to haaretz that that was the purpose of the Gaza withdrawal; to silence mounting international pressure and the peace quartet efforts to bring about Justice and Peace in israel and Palestine.
The palestinians are a very secular society and they elected Hamas because they know that they got nothing to loose.
I firmly believe that the concessiosn must come from the poerful, from the other side, from the Israeli side. Sophists used to say (negatively) that Justice was made to protect the weak against the powerful.

Gert said...

There remains nonetheless a serious drawback to intransigence regarding the recognition issue: it makes it very easy for the Israelis to refuse negotiations and to keep hammering home the point "they want to destroy us". This is the kind of Israeli propaganda that's prominent in Western media and works like a treat with the American Israel Lobby.

In my view some kind of recognition, no matter how tentative and conditional, could take some wind out the anti-Palestine camp's sails.

Let me ask you: what is your solution?

Trying to somehow win this conflict militarily is a complete pipedream: Israel is unassailable, militarily speaking. Any such attempt would result in half the world coming to their rescue (even though they wouldn't need it).

International pressure? How long have we been waiting for this?

Any thoughts are welcome.

Sophia said...

he recognition issue is sometimes dependant on internal political factors. By 'internal' I mean not only Palestine but arab and muslim countries in this case.
It is really stupid on the part of the EU (I don'T mention the US because you don't have to count on them to help the palestinians) that they are restricting aid. Now Hamas will have to depend on arab and muslim countries and this complicates the recognition issue; some arab and muslim countries don't recognize Israel.
The west reaction to the democratic election of Hamas was very negative and instead of respecting the will of the palestinians in their choice of government and waiting to see what will come from Hamas, they started a cycle of menace, provocations, humiliations and escalation.
Don't forget that behind Hamas there are citizens fed up with the system. The cycle of menace, provocations,humiliation and escalation is not a good starting point. I already posted on this startegy specific to the US foreign policy:
Look in my archives, march 23, 2006, Tactics of escalation.

You are not dealing here only with few persons, you are dealing with public opinion. So if Hamas, in a way, sends a message that it is renouncing under pressure, that may affect their popularity and diminish their leadership inside thwe territories. It was the same in Iran. Ahmadi-Nejad was able to capitalize among the iranian electorate thanks to the provocations of the US telling Iran it cannot enrich Uranium for military purposes while iran was saying they had the right to enrich Uranium for civil purposes (they never decalred actually that they were going to make a nuclear bomb but somehow their declarations were twisted on CNN and major american news outlets). A desperate Iranian friend told me that Ahmadi-Nejad was elected by the poor and with the nuclear row his popularity grew among bourgeois Iranians.

What is my solution ? I think nobody has a solution. I think that Hamas should concentrate on nation-building. Rebuilding infrastructure, rescuing the economy, trying to find jobs for the unemployed. Do you know that Gaza has 60% of unemployement ? Do you know that since Israel erected the separation wall, many palestinians are severed from their sole income source, their orchards ?
But then again nation building will require money and the palestinian teritories are a prison. They don't have autonomy when it comes to generating money and buildibg their nation. I think Hamas shoud also renounce attacking Israeli civilians, but then again when you see the list of killings and provocations peretrated by the settlers and the Israeli army against palestinian civilians you wonder: are there many options left to these people in their struggle to regain their rights ? I think the only 'acceptable' option made open to them by Israel and the west is shut up and renounce, renounce the 1967 borders, renounce the right to return, renounce a viable nation, renounce hope !

I wish I could have a satisfactory solution but I don't. I still believe that the solution in that case, and as you said, given the overwhelming superiority of Israel militarily speaking, it is up to the powerful to give justice but clearly they don't want to and clearly they are working in the other direction, creating more injustice every day.

On daily life in Gaza and on the humiliations, I recommend some of the links you can find in my side bar (Leila el-Haddad, palestinian bloggers, Gush-Shalom).
Also some truths and misunderstandings posted on hamas today on the Angry Arab blog, it is in my links.

Sophia said...

I think a beginning of a solution could be a Marshall plan for the palestinian territories without regards to nay guarantees from the Hamas or whatever. The freezing of the settlements and The rsuming of israeli-Palestinain negociations under international tutelage in which the EU should play the first role.

Once the palsestinains have a guarantee on their lives, their meals and the education and employement of their children, believe me, renoouncing violence, the recognition of israel and Peace will be around the corner.

It is simply not fair to ask people who are deprived to start doing concessions as a condition for what ? What the international community and Israel are offering palestinians in exchange of recognition and peace ? Are there any concrete offers agreed upon ?

Gert said...

Thanks for both insightful comments.

You're quite right on the vast majority of your points.

As regards such a Marshall plan, this remains an option that is unlikely to materialise, given the US stance and the fact that Europe is unlikely to want to upset its ally.

These people are slowly being strangled and we're just looking on, largely powerless...

Gert said...

Thanks also for the link. I will return the favour soon.

Since March 29th 2006